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Boekredakteurs kies hulle beste vir die jaar

afr fiksie collage

Ek’s baie agter met Afrikaanse fiksie hierdie jaar. Toe doen ek ‘n lui ding en vra al die Afrikaanse joernaliste wat met boeke te doen het om hulle aanbevelings te gee sodat ek my krismislysie kan klaar skryf.

 

afr fiksie collageHerman Lategan

Skrywerjoernalis van Seepunt en outeur van die bundel Binnekring Van Spookasems.

Kamphoer, deur Francois Smith, is een van die beste boeke wat ek in Afrikaans die afgelope paar jaar gelees het. Myns insiens is dit is selfs beter as van die top internasionale Engelse literêre werke wat ek die onlangse dekade onder oë gehad het.

Dis ‘n verskriklike storie oor verkragting, verlies, oorlog, en wat dit is om ʼn weerlose mens en brose vrou in hierdie ongure omstandighede te wees. Een wat deur geweld, emosioneel en fisies, platgeslaan is, maar weer kon opstaan.

Hoe kan ʼn man dit skryf? Hoe kan ʼn man homself in die hart van ʼn vrou plaas? Maklik (en dis ʼn woord wat hier met wrang ironie gebruik word). Francois Smith skryf (as ʼn Afrikaanse man) met ʼn soveel deernis en patos oor ʼn vrou wat barbaars behandel is deur mans, omdat sy eie vrou (in die regte lewe) vermoor is.

Ek wil nie veel meer vertel nie, gaan lees die boek self, maar dis ʼn werk wat nog oor ʼn honderd jaar by ons breekbare menswees, en ons eie sin vir wat reg en verkeer is gaan aanklank vind. Ja, die lewe is hel, en die letterkunde laat ons opkyk na die hemel. Soos hier.

Murray La Vita

Profiel- en rubriekskrywer van Die Burger

Die magnificent Kaar deur Marlene van Niekerk en Antjie Krog se Mede-Wete.

Naomi Meyer

LitNet

Ek is inhoudsbestuurder van LitNet en hanteer ook dié webwerf se boekresensies. Dis heerlik en ook frustrerend – mens is geneig om die splinternuwe boeke na die resensente te jaag en dan eerste omtrent die boek te lees as wat mens noodwendig die kans kry om die boek self te lees.

Die twee Afrikaanse boeke van 2014 wat ek nog nie gelees het nie maar wat uitstaan as die moet-lees-boeke van die jaar is Kamphoer deur Francois Smith en Buys deur Willem Anker. Dié twee boeke lê reg vir my om oor die Kerstyd te lees. Die twee boeke wat ek egter wel vanjaar gelees het en ‘n groot indruk op my gemaak het was Winelands, wealth and work, saamgestel deur Kees van der Waal en Donker spoor deur Martin Steyn.

Winelands, wealth and work (UKZN Press): Dié (niefiksie) boek handel oor omstandighede in die wynlande, vertel die narratiewe van plaaswerker en boer, handel oor die tydsame geweld van eeuelange armoede, maar deel ook verhale van hoop. Hier is ‘n onderhoud met die samesteller: http://www.litnet.co.za/Article/onderhoud-winelands-wealth-and-work-transformations-in-the-dwars-river-valley-stellenbos

Donnay Torr

Redakteur van Taalgenoot en Hoezit!

Ek het twee Afrikaanse boeke wat vanjaar vir my uitstaan.

1000 Stories oor Johannesburg: ‘n Stadsroman deur Harry Kalmer (Queillerie)

Die boek is enduit boeiend, ‘n liefdesbrief aan Johannesburg wat ‘n mens inspireer om weg te sink in sy verhale en geskiedenis, goed of sleg. Kalmer se woorde leef, en die boek se trefkrag, vir my, lê veral in die emosies en gewaarwordinge wat die aanwakker. Dit is ‘n absolute gunsteling.

Binnekring van Spookasems: stories oor die lewe – Herman Lategan, saamgetel deur Amanda Botha (Jonathan Ball). Sjoe, ek het nie woorde vir hierdie boek nie. Ek ween elke keer as ek dit oopmaak om nog ‘n stukkie te lees – en nie noodwendig van hartseer nie.

Herman is ‘n fyn waarnemer van die menslike kondisie, ‘n kampioen vir die randfigure en sy gebruik en verstaan van Afrikaans is so mooi dat ek sommer depressief raak oor my eie vermoëns. Dit is ‘n wonderlike boek.

afr boeke collageNelia Richter

Assistentredakteur van Landbouweekblad, en boekeredakteur van Rapport in Weekliks

Roman: Kamphoer van Francois Smith. Dit was ook ’n groot jaar vir die Afrikaanse digkuns: Breyten Breytenbach se Vyf-en-veertig skemeraandsange en Antjie Krog se Mede-wete is van die sterkste digbundels wat verskyn het.

Valsrivier van Dominique Botha in 2013, een van die sterkste debuutromans van die afgelope dekade, het niemand kon dink nog ’n sterk debuut sou so gou daarop volg nie. Dit het wel gebeur: Francois Smith se Kamphoer. Dis ’n sensitiewe boek, oor ’n sensitiewe onderwerp. Smith se boek neem ’n geskiedkundige gegewe, Susan Nell se wrede verkragting in ’n konsentrasiekamp gedurende die Anglo-Boereoorlog. Die meesleurende beskrywing van die Vrystaatse landskap bevestig net dat van die land se grootste skrywers wortels hier het.

Melvyn Minnaar

Vryskutskrywer – kuns, kultuur en wyn

My stem is vir Nagmusiek van Stephanus Muller.

‘n Merkwaardige publikasie. Nie net ‘n huldeblyk aan Arnold van Wyk en sy musiek nie, ‘n ordening van sy oeuvre en beligting daarvan, maar ‘n tour de force wat betref metafiksie. Die problematiek van biografie driftig verbeel en verwoord, maar veral ‘n werk wat gelees wil word. Waarna jy smag om Van Wyk se musiek te hoor.

Helené Prinsloo

Adjunkredakteur: Books LIVE

Tussen boeke het ek heeltyd teruggekeer na die digbundel Solank verlange die sweep swaai deur Danie Marais. Iets omtrent die pretensielose eerlikheid en absolute toeganklikheid van sy verse het my keer op keer getref. Ook, diegene aan wie ek van dié verse voorgelê het, het saamgestem: Marais ontknoop ‘n spesifieke, onpeilbare emosie.

Ilse Salzwedel

Aanbieder en vervaardiger: Skrywers en Boeke by RSG

Woensdagaande tussen 20h00 en 21h00 op RSG, 100 tot 104 FM  – of luister aanlyn

Hoewel Valsrivier rondom die einde van 2013 gepubliseer is, het ek dit eers vroeg in 2014 gelees. Wat ʼn wonderlike boek! Ek het – soos alle boekwurms – ʼn “afsnypunt” in ʼn boek. Voor ek by daardie punt kom, moet ʼn skrywer my intrek, anders wil ek nie verder lees nie. So many books, so little time…) Gewoonlik is dit 10 bladsye, dalk 20 as ek goeie goed oor die boek gehoor/gelees het. Maar Dominique Botha het my aandag teen die helfte van bladsy een al ten volle gehad. Dit was ʼn kombinasie van die atmosfeer wat sy in die eerste paar paragrawe van kinderdialoog geskep het, en ragfyn woordspel, soos in die volgende sin: “Snags fladder die motte met bleek vlerkies teen die kartondeksel en lê stringe eiers soos snoere hekelkraletjies.” Soos ʼn honger leser het ek agter elke goedgekose woord aan gelees terwyl Valsrivier se mense soos familie geword het. Die boek verdien beslis elke prys wat dit verower het.

Dan wil ek ook noem dat ek vanjaar uitgeboul was met die gehalte van Afrikaanse misdaadfiksie. Afrikaanse uitgewers soos LAPA en die NB-groep kan hulself gerus op die skouer klop met die oes van skrywers wat in hierdie genres publiseer. Dis lankal nie net meer Deon Meyer en Chris Karsten wat naelbyt-speurverhale kan skryf nie. Ek kan ʼn hele paar boeke aanbeveel: Sondeboek (Irma Venter) Kopskoot (Rudi van Rensburg), Dubbelspel (Wilna Adriaanse), Die 13e kaart (Madeleine Rust), Donker Spoor (Martin Steyn) en Waar boosheid broei (Peet Venter). Al hierdie skrywers ken hul werk, en kan kers vashou by talle internasionale misdaadskrywers.

Elna van der Merwe

Herskrywer by Huisgenoot, YOU en DRUM en Huisgenoot-boekeredakteur

Dis swaar om net een boek te noem, want dit voel soos om een van jou kinders uit te sonder as jou witbroodjie. Maar laat dit dan Ester deur Kerneels Breytenbach wees. Dis ‘n lieflike liefdesverhaal vermeng met spioenasie, seks en stoomlokomotiewe. Dié Ester is so warm sy kan treinspore laat smelt…

 

 

REVIEW: Synapse

Synapse

SynapseSynapse

Antjie Krog

Human & Rousseau

ISBN: 9780798167901

Karina Magdalena Szczurek

Reading Antjie Krog’s latest volume of poetry translated into English, Synapse (Mede-wete in Afrikaans), I was faced with an old personal dilemma: How much hard work is too much in order to reach that moment where meaning and aesthetic pleasure reveal themselves to you as a poetry reader? I don’t have an adequate answer. Perhaps everyone’s threshold is different anyway. In the end all you have is your very individual frame of reference.

In any poetry volume you will find poems which will immediately speak to you. Others will require a specific key to unlock a feeling of appreciation. Rereading, research, or exploration of context will eventually reward your effort. Some poems will forever remain inaccessible no matter the amount of goodwill you put in. And then there will be those which will simply leave you cold. The poems in Synapse fit into all these categories.

The volume is divided into two parts: The Yard and Four Efforts in Linguistic Synapse Tracing. The first part opens with a series of epigraphs which are followed by thirteen poems, all focused on the images of the yard and the farm. These I find the strongest and most captivating in the book. In the epigraphs we are introduced to spaces in which the land and its ownership take centre stage and gender roles are clearly defined. The poems speak of the death of a patriarch, familial roots which reach into a troubled past, grief, guilt, race relations, and the ancient questions of owning and belonging.

As the poem 11. fossilised tree trunk makes clear, everything is connected, embedded, echoed throughout history. And yet, everything changes: “after all the years we gurgle (the only outlasting ones) / burdened with the dying light and bloodsick with heritage / : the new ones prepare to enter the yard” (13. old yard). At the heart of one’s relationship with the land are beauty and language: “places that could always snap my skeleton into language / coil me into voices bore into my entrails / expose a certain wholeness of belonging as my deepest tongue / tear chorales and something like discord from my brain” (6. live the myth).

This is the kind of poetry that leaves one gasping for air, which opens up new spaces in one’s understanding and feeling about the past and everyday reality in this country.

The Yard continues with poems which grapple with morality and reconciliation.The idea of interconnectedness is challenged in hold your ear to the tear in the skin of my country where already the format of the poem signals separate spheres of understanding the concept of forgiveness. The words of the speaker of the first section, Cynthia Ngewu, who testified in front of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission about the murder of her son, one of the Gugulethu Seven, cascade onto the page like a waterfall. The neat couplets which follow represent an ordered attempt to understand the motives and worldviews of the officer who was involved in the killing. In the end, we are told, “it was futile to try to weave interconnectedness into / the concrete bunker that lives inside Mr Barnard’s whiteness”.

The bleakness of moving beyond such divisions is captured in miracle where South Africa’s relatively peaceful liberation is juxtaposed with present-day, all-consuming greed and violence: “we have become the prey of ourselves caught up / in ethnic avarice and total incapacity for vision”.

More intimate poems about ageing, memory, grand-motherhood, domesticity, or the I-you constellation of lovers reveal the wonders of the world along deeper philosophical questions about our capabilities and responsibilities. The tone ranges from sombre to light-hearted. Krog is one of the few poets out there who can smuggle Skype, wifi, the Internet and memory sticks into poetry and make them look as if they almost belonged. Also, when she swears, she makes it count.

The poem convivium astounds with its breadth: “what use my caress in the breath-earthed night if a centre- / less universe opens space in the nonexistent for dark / matter to overpower a few broken beads of light?” The poem, like the human body at the core of its universe, “tuneforks such abundance”.

Apart from a handful of exceptions, especially the Lament on the death of Mandela, the latter part of the volume, specifically the obfuscated Four Efforts in Linguistic Synapse Tracing left me baffled. The tightness and clarity of the preceding poems dissolved in musings where it became more and more difficult to follow the poet on her journey. The academic in me insisted I persevere and come to grips with the pieces, but the Sunday morning reader just wanted to return to the earlier poems in the collection or open another book.

  • This review first appeared in the Cape Times in December 2014.

QUICK REVIEW: Lamentation

lamentation-use

Lamentation

CJ Sansom

Mantle

ISBN: 9781447260257

Karin Schimke
lamentation-978144726025701

This is the sixth in Sansom’s Tudor detective series and neither his eye for historical detail, his knack for plot nor his empathy for his lawyer detective, the hunchback Matthew Shardlake, have diminished.

King Henry VIII is now an obese and wobbly man, barely able to walk two steps by himself, but his rule of terror remains. He is married to his sixth (and last) wife Catherine Parr, but even she isn’t free of the terror. She’s got herself into a pickle – quite innocently – of which the consequence could be burning at the stake. She needs her old friend Shardlake to help.

The plotting and grasping, the subterfuge and power struggles, the abject poverty and filth, the shocking wealth and wastages at court, the general ignorance (sound familiar, South Africa?) all remain, for me, the most fascinating aspect of the Shardlake series.

  • This review first appeared in the Cape Times in December 2014.

REVIEW: Malignant

malignant

malignant coverMALIGNANT: How Cancer Becomes Us

Lochlan Jain

University of California Press

ISBN: 9708520276574

REVIEW: Dawn Garisch

Lochlan Jain is a cancer survivor. She is also an anthropologist living in the USA. Malignant is in part the personal story of what she aptly terms ‘living in prognosis’ after the ordeal of misdiagnosis and subsequent treatment for breast cancer. The book is also her detailed investigation of our profoundly diseased society.

Nearly half of all Americans will be diagnosed with an invasive cancer. The time lag between exposure to carcinogens and diagnosis makes pinpointing exact causes difficult, other than overt instances, e.g. smoking and lung cancer, asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. Many known and unregulated carcinogens are in our food, plastics, dyes and water. Fallout from war, even from medical treatments, add to risk. Modern life evolves in a soup of hormones and chemicals, driven by our quest for youth, fertility, fast food, easy travel, gizmos and wealth. There is a massive price to pay, and the cost is often born by those who do not benefit.

Jain unearths disturbing information, e.g. companies who make both carcinogen-containing products and chemotherapy drugs. Stating she doesn’t believe there is evil intent, Jain remarks that the way to make a fortune is to give cancer to someone who has health insurance, and then test, monitor and treat her for the rest of her life.

Jain’s personal narrative informs and enhances her research. Her ability to present her emotional turmoil, vulnerability, and even humour, as she finds herself ensnared by the big machine of what she terms ‘the medical industry’, is a thread that holds together an appalling story of the cover-ups and collusion between capital fearful of mass claims, the legal system that is too costly for individuals to seek redress, the health professionals who ask too few questions about causation, and the government agencies that are unwilling to regulate hazards.

There are no easy answers to the questions she poses. Malignant lifts the lid off cancer, showing it to be largely uncontrollable, unknowable, endemic to our culture, metastasising into every aspect of life on earth, from our economic system to traces of lead found in Arctic ice. We are paying too high a price for our way of life, and we need to know this.

Malignant is essential reading for anyone involved in cancer care, who is affected by cancer, or who might contract the illness. Going by the stats, that’s pretty much everyone.

  • Dawn Garisch, GP and author of Eloquent Body, Modjaji (2012)

QUICK REVIEW: Yes Please

Yes p

Yes pYes Please

Amy Poehler

ISBN: 9780062268341

Picador

Karin Schimke

Reading this well-known American comedienne and actress’s “middle-of-the-road” autobiography is like being on a road trip with someone who is so much fun you can’t believe your luck. But it’s a longish road trip and every now and again you think you wonder if you can keep up the merriment. Then she says something so random, so funny and so oddly wisely that you think “What a lucky one I am to be on a road trip with Amy Poehler!”

If you’re a fan of Poehler’s wild improv, mad-cap comedy, her down-to-earth bordering-on-brassy personality, you’ll love Yes Please.

If you don’t know who she is, you’ll probably still like it. It’s nothing if not entertaining.

Poehler is self-deprecating, can laugh at herself and the world, and is not afraid to be vulnerable. Also, the book’s full of fascinating behind-the-scenes bits about famous people.

  • This review first appeared in the Cape Times in December 2014.

REVIEW: The Alphabet Of The Birds

alphabetbirds

The-Alphabet-of-Birds-_-RGB-300x460The Alphabet of Birds

SJ Naudé

Umuzi

ISBN: 9781415207130

REVIEW: Melvyn Minnaar

For those familiar with the Afrikaans version that appeared in 2011 – and won acclaim and awards – one of the pleasures of this roman à tiroirs is the precision of the translation (a rewrite, more accurately) in echoing the nuances of the original.

While the settings and tone of Naude’s seven haunting inter-linking stories have, what Damon Galgut, in a pointed introduction to the book, calls a “cosmopolitan gloss”, all are anchored in that particular starkness that Afrikaans sometimes shares with the outer edges of society and characters of our country.

It’s a language that harbours a particular emotional grittiness – such as J.M Coetzee brought so energetically to his first books, and provides the vivid graphics for Marlene van Niekerk’s fine novels.

Naude uses it in polished translation to densely weave the melancholic line of displacement/alienation that runs through all these stories. The glimpses of, and Afrikaans names are also a subtextual meditation on those speakers’ place in a much changed world and the country of today.

Often his mastery of words opens up possibilities beyond the obvious and foregrounded narrative. The reader is drawn into the telling of the tales as they unfold, unlocking meaning in sentences, negotiating time frames and the evolution of the plot, finding deep delight in the passion of prose.

This is Joschka, a baker’s assistant, and ‘alternative lover’ of the worldly, high-flying expatriate narrator, a banker in London: “He has hands that are capable of anything. Hands that start shaping each day when it breaks. Hands that track the shape of whichever body may be at hand that day. Hands that knead and mould dough.”

This poetic erotic charge focuses the central clash of personalities, places and philosophies in the story of ‘A Master from Germany’. The ironies of homelessness are at tipping point here.

This tension is the edge where all the central characters find themselves as they weave in and out of the first person, main narrative that frames the book so neatly.

Most are travellers, returning to places that are now different and challenging. Street-smart in the foreign worlds they’ve explored, their old homes, past histories, become demanding testing ground, throwing up existential questions.

Sex had its place and provided pleasure in the diaspora, but is neutered in the home-coming. Cancer is a thread through three pieces, a theme of creeping despair. Ironically, that unfolding of bleakness and the highly personal provide a key to some form of understanding, if not resolution.

The latter, as the book’s title suggests, is in the domain of the birds. Birds are referenced in casual encounters throughout the stories, detail in the décor, often as markers of frustration.

Theirs is language that we don’t understand, but yearn to know. Ancient and poetic metaphor of the unknown, inaccessible logic and the mysterious, Naudé elegantly activates this mythical framework in contemplation of the human condition.

The Alphabet of the Birds is a marvellously dense book and rewarding for that. Layers unfold as references (names, for example, are highly charged) reveal themselves and connections fall into place. Personal histories are stylishly pieced together in jigsaws of time.

Yet while the stories point to loss, if not inexorable tragedy, Naudé has composed such beautiful, honed prose that it drives you passionately and cerebrally from page to page, from story to story. The darkness of the unanswered questions is lit by the vividness of words.

His characters will ring in memory – often for the simplest, briefest detail ascribed to them and their actions.

There’s Sandrien, in the brilliant first story ‘Van’, who self-destructs in a relentless pursuit of redemption in the moral chaos of modern South Africa. Mrs Nyathi, who appears in this tale, and again later, is a colourful, cigar-smoking matron-hotelier. Sam is a freewheeling man of the new South Africa, and of the dance. Ondien is a musician-singer in search of herself as a cultural being deep in the alienated country.

They are people that could only inhabit or come from contemporary South Africa. They carry in person, philosophy and actions the complicated social issues of this land, which makes Naudé’s book also an open-ended morality tale.

When it appeared in Afrikaans in 2011, Naudé was widely praised as an exciting new voice. Many reviewers made particular reference to the fact that it should not be limited to that language. And so it has come about – brilliantly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QUICK REVIEW: ADULTERY

cherries

Adultery-Paulo-CoelhoADULTERY

Paulo Coelho

Hutchinson

ISBN-13: 978-1101874080

Shirley de Kock Gueller

Although easy to read, Adultery leaves you wanting a little more. A depressed but happily married successful and rather self-indulgent Swiss journalist seeks just that, seeing herself as lonely in a rich and rewarding life. In aiming for more, she stands to take down those she loves.  When she meets an old beau, who is now a successful politician, and embarks on a delusional and disillusioning quest for a love, you wonder if her men are right when they tell her she needs a therapist for her depression.

Confusing lust and aggressive sex with what she perceives as romantic love, she undergoes an epiphany while paragliding above Interlaken and finds all is right with her world, husband and children.

If Coehlo’s life remains the primary source of inspiration for his books,I am somewhat at a lost where this fits in.

  • This review first appeared in the Cape Times in December 2014.

QUICK REVIEW: The Dig

dig_front_cover_2

dig_front_cover_2The Dig

Cynan Jones

Granta

ISBN-13: 978-1847088789

Karina Szczurek

Cynan Jones is a name to remember. The Dig is his fourth novel. It is an astounding piece of writing. Reading Jones one is reminded of the greats of English-language literature – Hemingway, Steinbeck or Virginia Woolf come to mind, each for different reasons. But Jones has a voice all his own. His prose is pure muscle and yet it conveys the most delicate of impressions and emotions. The Dig encompasses the best and worst of humanity. It tells the story of two men: a grieving Welsh sheep farmer and a brutal hunter involved in the illegal blood sport of badger baiting. The novel does not shy away from the horror of cruelty against animals, nor those moments which are unknowable, just before a life is extinguished. Yet it is most haunting when capturing what remains unsaid, as nature and life continue in the landscape of the human heart.

  • This review first appeared in the Cape Times in November 2014.

QUICK REVIEW: Playing House

ph1

playing_house72Playing House

Katherine Stansfield

Seren

ISBN-13: 978-1781721933

Karina Szczurek

Playing House is the debut poetry collection by the author of The Visitor (2013), a remarkable novel about loss and longing in Cornwall at the turn of the last century. As in her rich prose, in her poetry Katherine Stansfield has an eye for everyday detail. Her poems make us pause and consider. Whether describing a cat trying to get to an interesting-smelling morsel under the fridge, the auction of one of John Lennon’s teeth, the recipe for a crisp sandwich, or “raspberries lured to ripeness by the rain”, she moves from the familiar to the surprising and enchants in the process. Her images are clearly defined.The voice is authentic, subtle but strong. The title of the volume comes from First Place, a poem about a couple’s attempts at adult life.Full of thought, fun and beauty, Playing House is the real deal.

  • This review first appeared in the Cape Times in November 2014.

Look who’s coming!

author

Every time I meet someone who’s just attended their first lit fest, I’m surprised that they’re all ooh and ah about how funny the authors are, how entertaining the events were and how all round amazed they are that literary festivals are any fun at all.

Clearly, authors, you need some marketing. Why do people not know how bracing your company is? How amusingly self-deprecating you are? How clever and informed and thoughtful you are?

(Most of you. Some of you are total plonkers, but there’s usually a rotten spot or two in any basket of fruit.)

For the most part though, authors are way more entertaining than their bad hair and crocs give them credit for. So roll up, roll up, all you non-believers and see whose on at the Franschhoek Literary Festival next year in May.

  • John Boyne (Ireland) Boyne’s latest novel A History of Loneliness, is a deep and subtle examination of culpability and innocence, about a ‘good priest’ caught up in the scandal following the revelations of abuse within the Catholic Church in Ireland.
  • Chris Bradford (England) (Young Samurai series) will be in South Africa for the Book Week for Young Readers programme at schools in the Franschhoek Valley in the days preceding the main festival, and will be part of an event for schools at the main festival, on Friday 15 May.
  • Jackie Kay (Scotland/England) Acclaimed poet, short story writer, and memoirist, Kay will participate in a number of events, and will also be part of the judging panel for the high schools’ Poetry for Life finals, which will be held at the FLF (see www.poetryforlife.co.za for information).
  • Eshkol Nevo (Israel). Nevo’s latest book, Neuland, will resonate with many South Africans as it explores the need to get away from one’s homeland in order to understand it, and oneself, more deeply and honestly.
  • Romain Puertolas (France). The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe, Puertolas’s first novel is raking in positive reviews and he’s sure to be a popular panelist at the festival.
  • Sarah Waters (England). Waters has a strong fan base in South Africa for her historical fiction, and is sure to attract keen audiences. Her latest novel, The Paying Guests, is perfect holiday reading now in preparation for her appearance at the festival.

And here are some of the Seffrican authors you’ll get to rub shoulders with in the creamy light of late autumn Franschhoek:

  • David Attwell (York University). Good news for anyone wanting to get to grips with the work of Coetzee, Attwell will be in Franschhoek to talk about his new book, Face to Face with Time: JM Coetzee and the life of writing, to be published in 2015.
  • Belinda Bauer (Wales). Bauer is one of the most exciting crime writers to gain ascendence in recent years. Her latest novel The Facts of Life and Death, is out now.
  • Lyndall Gordon (Oxford). The biographer of many beloved literary figures, including Virginia Woolf, the Brontes, and Emily Dickinson, Gordon’s newest book, Divided Lives, is a memoir about her relationship with her extraordinary mother. (Gordon may also be presenting a life-writing masterclass/workshop).

And some of the locals who live on African soil:

  • GG Alcock. Alcock’s memoir, Third World Child, is a story of a unique life that could only emerge from South Africa.
  • Ekow Duker. A Ghanaian author, based in Johannesburg, Duker has written two well-received novels — Dying in New York and White Wahala.
  • Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, author of A Human Being Died that Night, will be at the festival with her new book, Dare We Hope?
  • Daisy Jones, winner of the Sunday Times Best Cookbook of the Year Award for Star Fish — a very useful guide to cooking fish from sustainable stocks.
  • Zelda la Grange, author of the bestselling memoir, Good Morning, Mr Mandela, will share her memories of Madiba.
  • Bongani Madondo, music journalist and author of I’m Not Your Weekend Special: Portraits on the Life + Style and Politics of Brenda Fassie, will add a jazzy note to the lineup.
  • Thando Mgqolozana, a powerful voice emerges in the three books by Mgqolozana, A Man Who is Not a Man, Hear Me Alone and Unimportance.
  • Emma Sadleir & Tamsyn de Beer (latter still to confirm her attendance), offer don’t-ignore insights into being active on social media in their book Don’t Film Yourself Having Sex.
  • Jaco van Schalkwyk, an artist and author whose first book The Alibi Club (also available in Afrikaans) introduces an exciting new voice to the SA literary scene.

There will, of course, be many other familiar names from previous festivals, plus a host of new names still to be confirmed. Details of these authors and participants will be revealed in the new year.

(The programme will be available on the FLF website from mid March 2015 — an announcement will be posted on the FLF website, www.flf.co.za, the Franschhoek Literary Festival Facebook page, and on the Twitter feed, @franlitfest.)