Category Archives: Book News

Local author challenges JM Coetzee over ‘Disgrace’

Article: Vivien Horler

Lacuna, by Fiona Snyckers (Picador Africa)

lacunaWhat right do you have to your name and history? Can you object if someone makes you the subject of their fiction?

Do you have less right to your own persona if you are world famous?

These questions were prompted by beginning to read Lacuna, a new novel by the successful South African author Fiona Snyckers.

A leading character in the novel is one John Coetzee, winner of the Booker Prize for his novel Disgrace, and a former professor at the “University of Constantia”.

He has since gone to live in Adelaide in Australia, a feted man of letters. And going after him is Lucy Lurie, a former junior colleague at the university, who believes her gang rape by a number of black men on her father’s farm in the Boland inspired Coetzee’s prize-winning novel. Continue reading

A spread of top foreign-language reads (handily in English)

 

man booker internationalThirteen novels have been longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize of 2019.

This prize celebrates the finest works of fiction translated into English from around the world, and is not to be confused with the Man Booker Prize which is awarded for fiction originally published in English.

The international prize is awarded every year for a single book, which is published in Britain and Ireland after translation. Short-story collections as well as novels are eligible. Continue reading

Author Justin Cartwright dies

Justin Cartwright

Justin Cartwright

Justin Cartwright, the Cape Town-born British writer, has died aged 73.

Cartwright was a stalwart of the Franschhoek Literary Festival.

He wrote 13 novels, including In Every Face I Meet, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and Leading the Cheers, which won the 1998 Whitbread Book Award for best novel. Masai Dreaming (1993) won an M-Net Literary Award.

His last novel, published in 2015, was Up Against the Night, and deals with a British family who visit Cape Town where they are victims of violent crime.

My favourite of his novels was The Promise of Happiness published in 2005 and set in Cornwall, as a family prepares for a wedding. This was his bestselling novel which saw more than 120 000 copies sold, according to The Bookseller.

It won both South Africa’s Sunday Times Fiction Prize and the 2005 Hawthornden Prize.

Long-time friend Gordon Walker, whom he met at Oxford, told The Bookseller: “The main themes of his books were about South Africa; some were set in Cornwall where we went on holiday. He was very good at drawing on characters, some of whom I knew in real life, some of whom were composite…I always felt he was fulfilled and he would write a book every two years.”

Cartwright, who had been awarded the MBE, worked in advertising after university and also directed documentaries, films and TV ads. – Vivien Horler

Police probe Bird Island book claims

 

TAFELBERG publishers says a “top‐level police investigation into allegations of a paedophile ring involving senior members of the National Party government”, is underway.

The allegations were made in the book The Lost Boys of Bird Island by former policeman Mark Minnie and journalist Chris Steyn.

In a press statement the publishers said several people with knowledge of the alleged paedophile ring had given “valuable information to the police”.

“A number of victims have come forward and have given written statements of alleged sexual abuse related to the allegations in the book.” Continue reading

Northern Irish writer wins 2018 Man Booker prize

Writer Anna Burns has become the first person from Northern Ireland to win the Man Booker Prize.

She won for her third novel, Milkman, which is set in an unnamed Northern Irish city during the troubles. It is a coming-of-age tale of a girl’s affair with a powerful married man.

The announcement was made at a function at London’s Guildlhall last night.

The chair of the 2018 judging panel, Kwame Anthony Appiah, said of Milkman: “None of us has ever read anything like this before.

“Anna Burns’s utterly distinctive voice challenges conventional thinking and form in surprising and immersive prose.

“It is a story of brutality, sexual encroachment and resistance threaded with mordant humour.

“Set in a society divided against itself, Milkman explores the insidious forms oppression can take in everyday life.”

Burns, 56, was born in Belfast but lives in East Sussex in England. Her first novel, No Bones, was also set during the Troubles.

Burns beat two other British writers, two American writers and a Canadian writer to win the award which recognises quality literary fiction written in English. Four of those shortlisted were women. Burns wins  £50 000 (about R930 000).

British writer Daisy Johnston, at 27 the youngest author ever shortlisted for the prize, was widely tipped to win for her novel Everything Under.

The others on the shortlist were Canadian Esi Edugyan for Washington Black, American Rachel Kushner for The Mars Room, American Richard Powers for The Overstory, and Briton Robin Robertson The Long Take.

Appiah said the shortlisted books were a “miracle of stylistic invention” and that “language takes centre stage”. – VIVIEN HORLER

 

SARS drops legal action against author Jacques Pauw

jacques pauw

Author Jacques Pauw

Author Jacques Pauw is off the hook when it comes to SA Revenue Service’s plans to prosecute him for information disclosed in his bestseller The President’s Keepers.

Publishers Tafelberg said on Friday (September 7 2018) that SARS had dropped its litigation against the author.

In legal correspondence to Tafelberg, acting commissioner Mark Kingon said SARS “considers this litigation unfortunate. The acting commissioner is working hard to restore the public confidence in the SARS.”

Earlier this year, SARS under former commissioner Tom Moyane filed papers in the Western Cape High Court against Pauw, saying he had published confidential tax information in the book in contravention of the Tax Administration Act.

Moyane, who has since been suspended from SARS, featured prominently in The President’s Keepers, which was published in October last year.

It is one of the biggest and fastest-selling books in South African publishing history.  It disclosed, among other things, that former president Jacob Zuma “captured” the country’s law enforcement agencies to hide the fact he was not tax compliant and that he received a salary from a private company while in office.

Tafelberg was not part of Moyane’s legal action, but the publishers defended Pauw, arguing there was clear and compelling public interest in the revelations about Zuma’s tax affairs.

“We are proud to have stood by our author and the book, which brought to light important information and played a role in breaking up the Zuma cabal that has only its own interests – and not that of the country – at heart,” said NB Publishers, of which Tafelberg is an imprint. “Pauw is a respected, experienced investigative journalist, and his book was written and published with the utmost integrity.

“We are very happy that this chapter of litigation is now closed and our author is no longer under attack.”

Nearly time for the Open Book Festival

It’s nearly time for Cape Town’s acclaimed Open Book Festival, which takes place mainly in the city centre – at the Fugard Theatre and the Book Lounge – from September 5 to 9.

Some highlights include a discussion on memoir writing, a panel chaired by radio presenter John Maytham in which crime writers discuss writing about both sides of the law, a discussion on “Land – beyond the rhetoric”, a talk on inclusive African cities, UCT’s new vice chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng outlines her vision for the university, a discussion on the work writers do before they start writing – and that’s only the first day.

Among top authors who will attend the festival and join panel discussions are Swedish novelist Jonas Bonnier, whose latest work, The Helicopter Heist, is based on a true theft when a group of crooks landed a stolen Bell helicopter on the roof of a Stockholm cash depot and stole a huge amount of money before fleeing.

  • Chike Frankie Edozien, a former New York Post reporter who last year published Lives of Great Men, described in the Huffington Post as “one of the most triumphant and joy-inducing books of the year…”
  • Taiwanese-born South African writer Ming-Cheau Lin writes a food blog butterfingers.co.za. Other local writers include Karin Brynard, Karina Szczurek, Dawn Garisch, Andrew Brown, Mondli Makhanya, Jan-Jan Joubert, Jacques Pauw and Jeremey Vearey. In addition, In addition the festival offers CocreatePoetica, the Comics Fest and the Youth Festi for young readers.

In addition the festival offers CocreatePoetica, the Comics Fest and the Youth Festi for young readers.

This is the merest glimpse of the pleasures and treasures ahead. To view the full programme click here.  All ticket sales are through Webtickets, and even free sessions must be booked.

Spirit of Jewish life for literary festival

Author Rahla Xenopoulos who will speak about her book The Season of Glass at the Jewish Literary Festival on Sunday

Author Rahla Xenopoulos who will speak about her book The Season of Glass at the Jewish Literary Festival on Sunday.

No sooner is the Franschhoek Literary Festival over than news of upcoming Cape Town festivals emerges.

The first is the Jewish Literary Festival, which has a programme of more than 60 events over a single day on Sunday (June 17).

Then later this year comes the Open Book Festival which runs from September 5 to 9.

The Jewish Literary Festival is in its third year, Continue reading

Help choose the Man Booker Prize’s top novel from half a century of excellence

The Booker Foundation has launched a search for the best of the best to mark the English literary prize’s 50th year this year.

Sadly South African novelist JM Coetzee, the first writer to win the Man Booker prize twice – in 1983 for Life & Times of Michael K, and in 1999 for Disgrace – didn’t make the shortlist of five books nominated for the once-off Golden Man Booker Prize.

But Hilary Mantel, who won it in 2009 for Wolf Hall and in 2012 for Bring Up the Bodies, the sequel to her Henry VIII/ Thomas Cromwell saga, has been nominated for Wolf Hall.

The idea of the Golden Man Booker Prize was to select the best book for each decade of the prize’s existence, and each judge was allocated one decade of winners to choose from. In a tribute to the power of the prize, all 51 winners are still in print.

The five books to make the shortlist are: In a Free State by VS Naipul (1971); Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively (1987); The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (1992); Wolf  Hall by Hilary Mantel 2009; and Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (2017).

Coetzee – and Australian writer Peter Carey who has also won the Booker twice – needn’t feel too badly about not making the shortlist. Novels their works were in competition with included Nadine Gordimer’s The Conservationist (1974); The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch (1978); Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (1981);  The God of Small things by Arundhati Roy (1997); Life of Pi by Yann Martel (2002); and The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan (2014).

The five judges were writer and editor Robert McCrum (1970s); poet Lemn Sissay MBE (1980s); novelist Kamila Shamsie (1990s); broadcaster and novelist Simon Mayo (2000s); and poet Hollie McNish (2010s).

The shortlist was announced at the Hay Festival in the UK on May 26. From now until June 25 readers are asked to reread these top five novels, and then submit their vote for the overall winner of five decades of the prize, which will be announced at the Man Booker 50 Festival at London’s South Bank Centre on July 8.

To participate, send your vote to the Man Booker Prize website (themanbookerprize.com). The website features videos of each judge discussing their choice. – Vivien Horler