15 – 17 September: Karavan Press authors at Blown Away by Books

THURSDAY 15 SEPTEMBER

14.00 – 15.00 
So you want to write? How to start – how to continue: three writers give insight into their writing journeys and the genres they have explored

Lester Walbrugh – Elton Baatjies & Let It Fall Where It Will
Shameez Patel – The Last Feather 
Penny Haw – The Wilderness Between Us

Moderator: SarahBelle Selig

FRIDAY 16 SEPTEMBER

9.30 – 11.30 
Writing workshop with Cathy Park Kelly and Máire Fisher (Library Hall)

14.00 – 15.00 
What we know and what we learn – about ourselves, our families, our history

Sara-Jayne Makwala King – Mad Bad Love
Erika Bornman – Mission of Malice
Cathy Park Kelly – Boiling a Frog Slowly

Moderator: Karina Szczurek

16.00 – 17.00 
The stories we choose to tell – memoir, biography and the fictions between

Colleen Higgs – My Mother My Madness
Nancy Richards – The Skipper’s Daughter
Hedi Lampert – The Trouble With My Aunt

Moderator: Cathy Park Kelly

SATURDAY 17 SEPTEMBER

16.00 – 17.00 
Personal, social, political – stories that create the fabric of our country

Sindiwe Magona – Theatre Road
In Our Own Words: Nurses on the Front Line
Nick Dall and Matthew Blackman – Spoilt Ballots

Moderator: Tracey Farren

For the full programme, click here:

BLOWN AWAY BY BOOKS

Sunday Times Literary Awards longlists announced

The longlists for SA’s most prestigious annual literary awards for non-fiction and fiction – the Sunday Times Literary Awards – have been announced in partnership with Exclusive Books. Karavan Press has two titles on each list. Congratulations to all longlisted authors, and extra literary hugs to Karavan Press authors: Karen Jennings, Nick Mulgrew, Nancy Richards and Cathy Park Kelly!

FICTION PRIZE

FICTION LONGLIST

This is the 21st year of the Sunday Times fiction prize. The criteria stipulate that the winning novel should be one of “rare imagination and style … a tale so compelling as to become an enduring landmark of contemporary fiction”.

JUDGES

EKOW DUKER — CHAIR
Oil-field engineer turned banker turned writer, Ekow Duker grew up in Ghana, studied in the UK, the US and France and now lives and works in Joburg. His debut novels, White Wahala and Dying in New York, were published in 2014 and were followed in 2016 by The God Who Made Mistakes, and in 2019 by his fourth and most ambitious novel, Yellowbone.

KEVIN RITCHIE
Ritchie spent 27 years at what is today Independent Media, including editing the company’s smallest daily newspaper, the Diamond Fields Advertiser in Kimberley, and its flagship, The Star, in Joburg. He received several journalism awards during his career and wrote the two-volume Reporting the Courts – A Handbook for South African Journalists. He also co-authored The A-Z of South African Politics (Jacana 2019). After leaving journalism in 2018, Ritchie founded a media consultancy which provides communication services, training for journalists and communicators and coaching for editors and CEOs. He writes a syndicated weekly opinion column in the Saturday Star.

NOMBONISO GASA
Writer and political analyst, Gasa is a research fellow at the Centre for Law and Society and Adjunct Professor at the School of Public Law at the University of Cape Town. In the early ’90s, Gasa was part of the ANC’s Commission for the Women’s Emancipation of Women. Gasa has been published widely in newspapers and academic journals, including Women in South African History (HSRC), which she edited in 2007. She has sat in several public positions, including the Commission for Gender Equality, Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and Development Bank of Southern Africa. Gasa has a long history in politics, feminism and women’s rights activism extending to her teenage years which saw her arrested several times by the apartheid government.

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NON-FICTION PRIZE

NON-FICTION LONGLIST

The award will be bestowed on a book that presents “the illumination of truthfulness, especially those forms of it that are new, delicate, unfashionable and fly in the face of power”, and that demonstrates “compassion, elegance of writing, and intellectual and moral integrity”.

JUDGES

GRIFFIN SHEA — CHAIR
Shea is the founder of Bridge Books, an independent bookstore in downtown Johannesburg, and the author of a young adult novel, The Golden Rhino. Bridge Books focuses on African literature and on finding new ways of getting books to readers. The store’s non-profit African Book Trust is the lead partner in the Literary District project, a collaboration among booksellers, city agencies, businesses and other volunteers. Before opening Bridge Books, Griffin worked as a journalist for 15 years, mostly with the international news agency Agence France-Press (AFP).

NOMAVENDA MATHIANE
Mathiane has been a journalist for over 35 years. Her writing career began in 1975 as a reporter at the World Newspapers and she later joined Frontline magazine, where she specialised in writing about life in South African townships. Since then she has worked for most of the major South African newspapers. Her last journalist job was writing for Business Day as the legislature reporter. Mathiane has written three books: Beyond the Headlines, South Africa: Diary of Troubled Times and Eyes in the Night: An Untold Zulu Story. She currently teaches isiZulu at a private primary school.

BONGANI NGQULUNGA
Ngqulunga is with the University of Johannesburg where he currently serves as director of the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS). He is the author of The Man Who Founded the ANC: A Biography of Pixley ka IsakaSeme, which won multiple awards, including the Sunday Times Non-Fiction Award in 2018. Ngqulunga was educated at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and at Brown University in the US, where he obtained a doctoral degree.

Open Book Festival 2022

It was smaller, more intimate, but simply fabulous; and the new venue – Bertha House – with its beautiful spaces and light, is a great hit. The conversation were engaging and inspiring. Books were acquired, signed and eagerly dipped into. I think we all were feeling re-energised by these two days of listening to our literary heroes and discovering new voices.

It was fantastic to hear Joy Watson talk in public about her debut novel – The Other Me – for the first time and to see her signing copies of the book afterwards. And Nancy Richards told more beautiful stories about her memoir – or ‘mumoir’, as she call the memoir about her mum, The Skipper’s Daughter.

The festival offered a few workshops in the runup to the main event and Karavan Press authors Melissa A. Volker and Lester Walbrugh participated in the non-fiction and script writing workshops respectively.

Thank you to Vasti, Frankie, Mervyn and the entire Book Lounge team, all the sponsors, the Bertha House and all the amazing authors for these few days of literary magic!

We are all looking forward to the next one – pandemic etc. allowing – in September!

Karavan Press authors at the Adam Small Fees

Cathy Park Kelly, Nancy Richards and Karen Jennings will be participating in the Adam Small Literary Festival in Pniel this year.

SATURDAY, 26 FEBRUARY 2022 
PNIEL MUSEUM TEETUIN

13.45 – 14.15: Cathy Park – Boiling a Frog Slowly: A Memoir of Love Gone Wrong
14.15 – 14.45: Nancy Richards – The Skipper's Daughter
14.45 – 15.15: Karen Jennings – An Island: Longlisted for Booker Prize

Adam Small Fees

Nancy Richards reviews A HIBISCUS COAST by Nick Mulgrew

In my opinion, Nick Mulgrew is the most extraordinary young man of words. Quick bio run down: In 2014, in his early twenties, he founded uHlanga, a magazine of poetry from KwaZulu-Natal – the now award-winning uHlanga Press publishes poets more widely. Personally, he’s had the support of the German Sylt Foundation, the Swedish Literature Exchange, amongst others, and was a Mandela-Rhodes scholar. His work, mainly short fiction and features, has won lots of awards and accolades, including a Thomas Pringle and Nadine Gordimer Award. He’s written four books, was born in South Africa in 1990, raised both in Durban and Orewa, New Zealand, is currently doing his PhD at Dundee University and is based in Edinburgh. This is not to over-brag on his behalf, just to expand on his background which again, in my opinion, throws light on why this, his fourth book and first novel is also completely extraordinary. And absolutely original.

The story starts in South Africa – the opening line, ‘The neighbours were murdered at Christmas.’ lays the cards on the table, and then, through the person of 19-year-old Mary, makes its way across oceans to New Zealand. It’s no coincidence that there is a Hibiscus Coast in both countries.

On the imprint page, it says ‘This book is a work of fiction. Any descriptions…of actual persons, places, events or organisations are fictitious.’ I’m sure this is quite true, but the persons, places, events and organisations here are so meticulously described as to ring peels of bells – both in what a reader may have experienced or imagined. Whilst I’ve never been to New Zealand, the images, and dialogues especially, appear to have been born from close and processed observation. And research. Mulgrew acknowledges, together with the South Coast Herald archives, the National Library of New Zealand, the Auckland City Library, Takupuna Library and UCT Library as some of his sources. Interestingly, something of a graphic artist, young Mary spends a bit of time in libraries too.  He was also helped tremendously by ‘komiti members of Te Herenga Waka of Orewa’ – so those who know little of the indigenous culture of NZ are in for some lessons. Now I know what a ‘hangi’ is, and that it needs to get laid. In fact I think I learnt quite a bit about South African culture too – for better and worse.

But aside from the extraordinary insight that’s gone into this book, as well as lived experience and research, what I found to be so absolutely original is its construction. The text is ‘illustrated’ with what you might call ‘supporting documentation’ – affidavits, newsletters, newspaper cuttings, posters, flyers, even hand-written notes. It’s been conceived and laid out with such care, that it commands respect – as well as a place in the timeline of both countries. I’m sorry not to have given any details of the plot itself, but oty to discover. Finally, they say you can’t tell a book by its cover, but what you can tell from this one, is that it really IS absolutely original.

First published on the GBAS FB page.

Nancy Richards reviews CONJECTURES by James Leatt

If ever there were a time to be asking the big questions, it’s probably now. I mean – commercial Christmas, COVID, universal chaos, climate change crisis – you know. But let’s narrow it down and start at the top – Is there a God? And / or is it possible to be good without God, the ‘standover man’? Endless list really. But these and so very many more are the questions with which James Leatt has been living – for a very long time. In his 80s now, Leatt set out on the religious path as lay pastor for the Order of Christian Service aged just twenty. He recalls spending his twenty-first ‘preaching on a hot February day in a tent mission at a new housing estate in Retreat.’ His calling to the ministry was loud. But not impervious to question. ‘Doubt,’ he quotes a proverb, ‘is the beginning, not the end of wisdom.’

In this book, he charts for the reader his path over the decades of religion, faith, doubt and questions, all the while spilling out some contagiously quotable lines and thoughts from a lifetime of reading and thinking. He was captivated for instance by Durkheim’s view that ‘religion provides the glue that holds societies together.’ He quotes a Dutch Reformed Minister who said a mining disaster was ‘an act of a wrathful God calling a sinful nation to repentance.’ He talks about ‘theodicy’ (the vindication of divine providence in view of the existence of evil) and of a ‘crisis of credibility in religion’ … and more.

Interestingly however, he has not been sitting Buddah-like under a tree mulling over all this enlightenment doing nothing, he has led an exhaustively busy life teaching Social Ethics at UCT’s Graduate School of Business, becoming Deputy VC and Vice Principal at the same institute, later becoming VC and Principal at the then University of Natal. He was a founder member of the Independent Mediation Service of SA and Deputy Chair of the Institute for Democracy in SA (IDASA) – amongst other roles. But I tell all this, not to knock you dead with his CV, but to indicate that the path he has trodden has also wound its way through some hectic, challenging and revealing times here in South Africa. That he has emerged as a mild-mannered, silver-headed man still questing and questioning when others of his era have taken up bowls, is inspirational. Especially thought-provoking are his chapters on ‘Looking east’ and ‘Living without gods’ – but it’s all interesting, and as I opened by saying, infinitely quotable. My favourite takeaway is the parable of dharma – which he writes, is like a raft that you build out of all the things that come your way. You use it to ford the river in front of you, then you leave it on the other side for someone else to use. Like a legacy. I’m sure James Leatt will leave many others, but this book is truly a nine-carat piece of legacy for thinking readers to use. 

First published on the GBAS FB page.

Nancy Richards reviews BOILING A FROG SLOWLY by Cathy Park Kelly for Woman Zone Cape Town

Someone once explained to me the frog in increasingly hot water concept – that he won’t notice till he literally boils to death. I remember being horrified that such an idea could have been put to the test – poor frog, for heaven’s sake.
More shocking though is the thought that such a concept could apply to a human being – but seems it can.  Despite an increasingly hot water relationship, Cathy Park Kelly, hung on in for eight tortuous years with a man she calls here Karl. Her book, a vivid recall of the undermining, violent and over-heated treatment she tolerated, just made me want to weep for her. And lash out at the perp …

Woman Zone Cape Town