Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Sheila Fugard's The Magic Scattering of a Life launches at Kalk Bay Books

Sheila Fugard will launch her new collection of poetry:

The Magic Scattering of a Life

at Kalk Bay Books
Saturday, February 3
5 for 5.30pm
RSVP by Friday 2 February

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Top poets in Live Poets’ Society (LiPS) line-up

Some of the country’s top poets are set to strut their stuff at the next gathering of the Live Poets’ Society (LiPS) in Durban. The occasion is the Durban launch of the thirteenth issue of Fidelities, KZN’s only literary journal, which was published at the end of last year. It takes place at 6pm on Tuesday 30 January in the Point Yacht Club.

Edited by prize-winning poet and playwright Kobus Moolman, Fidelities boasts the cream of South African poets - many of whom are LiPS members. It features several poets who have their own collections to their names. These include - in order of appearance in the volume - Joan Kerchhoff, Deena Padayachee, Michelle McGrane, Gabeba Baderoon, Alan Kolski Horwitz, Moira Lovell, Joop Bersee, Sally-Ann Murray and of course Kobus Moolman himself.

He will introduce some of these big names as well as highly gifted emerging poets who are also in the journal. Many who have appeared in previous issues will also voice their work. This issue of Fidelities is notable for a number of long poems, which are a rarity in small anthologies. For aspiring poets there are also useful tips by poet-publisher Gary Cummiskey on the dos and don’ts of submitting poetry for publication.

Moolman has nominated “13” as the theme for the session following the Fidelities poets. It may be interpreted as individually or loosely as desired, and all are welcome to present their takes on the subject. The evening closes with a “Poet Pourri” session, when poets may air their work on any topic they wish.

There is no subscription or entry fee, but contributions towards expenses may be placed in the donation box. All are welcome, regardless of whether they write poetry. There is a cash bar, and guarded parking is available at R5. For more details, please contact Brett Beiles - 031 266 4762.

LiPS members in this issue are (in order of appearance):

Joan Kerchhoff, Deena Padayachee, Louise Buchler, Michelle McGrane, Damian Garside, Alan Kolski Horwitz, Jonathan Ballam, Liesl Jobson, Jess Auerbach, Moira Lovell, Floss M Jay, Kelly Dyer, Janet van Eeden, Sally-Ann Murray.

But participation is not restricted to LiPS members - please encourage others you may know in the current and previous Fidelities to attend and take part.

Brett Beiles [mailto:brettb@hardyboys.co.za]
031 266 4762.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

International conference to be held at Centre for the Book

Cape Town, 2-4 April 2007

This Conference is the fourth in a series of regional conferences in Sydney, Wellingtonand Kolkata following the COLONIAL AND POST-COLONIAL CULTURES OF THE BOOK held at RhodesUniversity, Grahamstown in 2001.

It is organised by Professor John Gouws of RhodesUniversity, under the aegis of the Society for the History of Authorship, Readingand Publishing.

The conference will address a wide range of questions relating to 'the history of the book' in colonial and post-colonial contexts. Relevant topics include:

national and transnational communities of letters; alternative public spheres; censorship; the history of reading and reading theories; reviewing and criticism; authorship; sociologies of the text; text and image; the economies of cultural prestige; media history; the cultures of collecting; library history; literacy; oral cultures; orality and print; printing and publishing history; the marketing and distribution of books; the electronic text; and the future of the book.

The purpose is to bring together all stakeholders: academics working in the fields of Textual Studies, Book and Cultural History, the Media, Anthropology, and new and old technologies of the text, archivists, librarians, educationalists, publishers, public administrators, funding bodies and government. It is hoped that special attention will be given to the development of protocols for recording Southern African orature and performance art.

For more information on the conference please visit the following website:


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A selection of short story collections worth reading:


Friday, January 12, 2007

Zimbabwean literature: a nervous condition


The current issue of Pambazuka news includes a good profile on the state of literature in Zimbabwe. Brian Chikwava, Guest Editor, winner of the 2004 Caine Prize for African Writing writes: "Thankfully, in spite of or because of the difficulties that Zimbabwe is going through, the turn of the century has seen a quiet adjustment in the publishing of fiction, giving new voices a better platform to be heard".

Also featuring writing by: Stanley Makuwe, a Zimbabwean writer based in Auckland, New Zealand. His short story collection, Under This Tree & Other Stories, was published last year by Polygraphia. He is also last year’s runner up for the BBC World Service Short Story Award;

Nyevero Muza, a Harare based writer and poet;

Chris Mlalazi, a playwright and fiction writer from Bulawayo. His work has been featured in the Crossing Borders project and several publications. His story, Broken Wings has been shortlisted for the HSBC/SA PEN Literary Award 2007;

Chaltone Tshabangu, a Bulawayo based writer. He has in the past participated in the British Council sponsored Crossing Borders project and last year was a joint winner of the BBC World Service Short Story Award.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Macmillan Writer’s Prize for Africa

Macmillan is today delighted to announce the start of the fourth Macmillan Writer’s Prize for Africa, the only literary prize awarded to writers of unpublished African children’s literature. The competition is open to entrants from all countries in Africa.

Previous prize winners have had their entries published and promoted by Macmillan throughout Africa; winning and shortlisted entries have come from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Zambia to date, and there have been a number of strong contenders from other African countries. Here are comments from two competitors:

“Even though I didn’t win, I was greatly encouraged to learn that my entry was nominated as one of the best from my country. I will definitely try again next time.”

“I’ve enjoyed reading some of the published winners. It has helped me to be more aware of my own writing, and to think more carefully about writing for children.”

Following the successful launch of the Macmillan Children’s Illustrator Award in 2005, Macmillan is pleased to be running this competition a second time, in recognition of the importance of pictures in African children’s books.

Macmillan Education is sponsoring both prizes with the following awards. Macmillan will also offer publication for the winning stories:

Junior Award
For an original, unpublished story in English of not more than 10,000 words written for children in the 8-12 age range
Prize value US$5,000

Senior Award
For an original, unpublished story in English between 14,000 and 20,000 words, written for young people between the ages of 13 and 17 years.
Prize value US$5,000

New Children’s Writer Award
For and original story in either the junior or senior category by a previously unpublished writer
Prize Value US$3,000

Children’s Illustrator Award
For an illustration based on one of the texts detailed in the competitor’s pack.
Prize value US$1,000

The closing date for all entries is 30 June 2007. Manuscripts for the Writer’s Prize will be evaluated by an independent panel of four judges who are prominent writers: Meshack Asare, Jamila Gavin, Jack Mapanje and Helen Oyeyemi. The shortlist will be announced in November 2007 and the prize winners will be announced in January 2008. There will be a special awards ceremony later in the year to celebrate the publication of the winning stories.

The winning entry for the Illustrator’s Award will be displayed as part of the Writer’s Award ceremony. Macmillan will enter into separate discussions with the winning illustrator regarding further assignments in children’s book illustration for Africa.

Competitors’ packs with full information and entry forms can be obtained FREE from local Macmillan offices or by emailing writersprize@macmillan.co.uk

Nicki Price
Macmillan Education
Between Towns Road
Nombuso Mkhize
Macmillan South Africa
PO Box 32484
(Tel) 011 731 3330
(Fax) 011 731 3552

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Russel Brownlee, Jane Taylor win Olive Schreiner Prize for Prose

The English Academy of Southern Africa is happy to announce the winners of the 2006 Olive Schreiner Prize for Prose. As there had been a number of excellent entries, the panel decided to split the prize between two novels, both first novels, with very honourable mention of a third. The joint winners are Russel Brownlee’s Garden of the Plagues (Human & Rousseau, 2005) and Jane Taylor’s Of Wild Dogs (Double Storey Books, 2005). Honourable mention goes to Consuelo Roland’s The Good Cemetery Guide (Double Storey Books, 2005), which the judges describe as “an intensely readable creation of story and character”.

The panel had the following to say about the winners:

Brownlee’s Garden of the Plagues is a devastating, imaginative presentation of what life in the early Cape could have been (and probably was!) like*. It is stylistically distinguished. The author has hammered out a curt, taut style. It is an impressive novelistic debut in which the more explicit moments are all the more brutally effective. It is a novel about survivors: those who manage against odds to preserve some shreds of fineness that hold out faint hope of a more humane and cultivated future.

Ebullience, by contrast, characterizes Jane Taylor’s mystery novel about contemporary South Africa or perhaps a South Africa that is only just beginning to emerge from its past. Taylor wields a lively and satirical pen and political correctness and some of our current holy cows, ubuntu, for example, get poked in the ribs. It is very refreshing and a hopeful portent for the future of writing in South Africa, though the novel is not untouched by the chamber of horrors*. The novel conveys the texture of an evolving society from which the horrors are beginning to recede.

Russel Brownlee completed a journalism degree at Stellenbosch in 1991 and then spent several years working as a radio news writer and magazine sub-editor in Johannesburg. He now lives in Cape Town where he works as a freelance writer and editor. Brownlee has been writing fiction for several years, but Garden of the Plagues is his first published work.

Jane Taylor holds the Skye Chair of Dramatic Art at the University of the Witwatersrand, and teaches courses in film studies, directing, and contemporary American theatre, as well as a graduate course on the thriller film and psychoanalysis. She has a background in theatre studies and a PhD in English from Northwestern University, Chicago, USA. Recently, Taylor’s work has included inquiries around the representation of remorse at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and at the World Court. She is currently working on a scholarly book on the performance of “Sincerity,” as well as a new novel.