On Being a Writer in Kalk Bay

Two Kalk Bay locals are shortlisted for the 2021 Sunday Times/CNA Literary Awards: Dawn Garisch for Breaking Milk (Fiction Award) and Mark Gevisser for The Pink Line: Journeys Across the World’s Queer Frontiers (Non-fiction Award)Earlier tonight, Dawn and Mark were in conversation with Olympia’s Kenneth McClarty and spoke about their books and writing lives on the outdoor terrace of the Chartfield Guesthouse, where we had also launched Dawn’s Disturbance towards the end of last year.

Thank you Dawn, Mark, Kenneth, Audrey of Kalk Bay Books and the fabulous people of Chartfield Guesthouse for a fascinating evening of stories. It was simply wonderful to attend a live book event and celebrate these two brilliant writers with other readers.

Dawn Garisch on the genesis of her novel, BREAKING MILK, shortlisted for the 2021 Sunday Times/CNA Fiction Award

2021 Sunday Times/CNA Fiction Award shortlist

In this novel, I explore aspects of separation and connection. Several mothers I know are estranged from their adult children, and many of us are disconnected from nature, intuition and creativity. I track the nuanced task of knowing when to intervene and when to withhold action in the lives of our own or other women’s children.

However, there are situations where we need to cut – initiation, divorce, surgery. Breaking Milk uses the metaphor of milk and cheese-making to ground these preoccupations during one day in the life of Kate, a geneticist who became a farmer when ethics in her lab were compromised. I job-shadowed a friend to learn about this ancient craft that employs patience and invisible micro-organisms to preserve milk.

I am interested in the idea “you can be right, or you can have relationships”; also how our intelligence has had some disastrous consequences for the natural world on which we depend.

Embedded in these concerns is the role of women in society – what it takes to say no, and how a woman finds her feet after divorce. The books that have informed my inquiry are Disgrace by JM Coetzee, and Accident: A Day’s News by Christa Wolf.

Sunday Times Books

Continue reading:

Extract from Breaking Milk by Dawn Garisch

Kate Sidley reviews Breaking Milk by Dawn Garisch for the Sunday Times: “A small world of deep metaphorical meaning”

Read about the organic cheese farm that inspired the setting for Dawn Garisch’s Breaking Milk: FYNBOSHOEK

Follow the cheese farm on Instagram: FYNBOSHOEK CHEESE FARM

BREAKING MILK by DAWN GARISCH shortlisted for the Sunday Times/CNA Fiction Award

FICTION AWARD

CRITERIA

The winner should be a novel of rare imagination and style, evocative, textured and a tale so compelling as to become an enduring landmark of contemporary fiction.

CHAIR OF JUDGES KEN BARRIS COMMENTS:

It is always difficult to select a shortlist in a competition at national level, and this year the fiction prize included books published in both 2019 and 2020. It was also a two-year period in which many of SA’s best and brightest novelists happened to publish, from gravitas-rich veterans to brilliant newcomers. It was a daunting but immensely enriching task for the panel, and we finally settled on five excellent novels.

Marguerite Poland is in scathing form in her heartbreaking tale of a young black missionary in the Eastern Cape, while Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu writes about colonialism and toxic masculinity with biting accuracy. Mark Winkler’s story is a subtle reflection on collective guilt and individual isolation, and Dawn Garisch’s portrayal of the struggle for connection is intelligently and beautifully observed. The youngest author in the line-up is Rešoketšwe Manenzhe with her engaging debut about migrancy and the destruction wreaked on a mixed-race family by the so-called Immorality Act.

FICTION AWARD SHORTLIST

Breaking Milk
Dawn Garisch (Karavan Press)

Set on a farm in the Eastern Cape, and taking place over one day, this is a finely wrought meditation on motherhood, not only in personal and human terms, but also with regards to ourselves as destructive children of the earth.

The History of Man
Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu (Penguin Fiction)

A brilliant portrait of a white, male colonialist seen through the eyes of a black woman writer. Emil Coetzee was a supporting character in Ndlovu’s prize-winning predecessor The Theory of Flight, and here she places him in the centre of the story, examining the forces that created this “man of empire”.

Scatterlings
Rešoketšwe Manenzhe (Jacana Media)

Taking place more than 100 years ago, this is a highly original novel about migrancy that incorporates myth and ritual and the stories of extraordinary ordinary women. On this journey, someone will get lost, someone will give up and turn back, and someone may go all the way to the end.

A Sin of Omission
Marguerite Poland (Penguin Fiction)

A wrenching, deeply felt story about Stephen Malusi Mzamane, a young Anglican priest, trained in England but now marooned in a rundown mission in Fort Beaufort. He is battling the prejudices of colonial society, and the church itself, when he is called to his mother’s rural home to inform her of his elder brother’s death.

Due South of Copenhagen
Mark Winkler (Umuzi)

A skilled examination of memory and culpability. Max Fritz lives quietly in a small Lowveld town, the editor of the local newspaper. Seemingly contented, he is shadowed by his childhood, and by the border war he was forced to take part in. When news of a boyhood friend reaches him, the past rears up painfully.

Read all about the Fiction & Non-Fiction shortlists here:

The 2021 Sunday Times/CNA Literary Awards shortlists