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Archive for the ‘Book Excerpts’ Category

‘I’m absolutely a white African’ – An excerpt from Green in Black-and-White Times: Conversations with Douglas Livingstone

Green in Black-and-White TimesUKZN Press has shared an excerpt from the newly released Green in Black-and-White Times: Conversations with Douglas Livingstone by Michael Chapman.

The book recollects conversations over a period of almost 20 years between scientist-poet Douglas Livingstone and literary critic Michael Chapman.

In his preface, Chapman describes the conversations as “serious, humorous, ribald”, and says: “Douglas Livingstone often said that the poet, whether in serious, humorous or ironic vein, must aim to entertain readers. I hope that the extracts from, and commentary on, his poems, as well as our conversations, offer the reader both insight and enjoyment.”

Read an excerpt from the book’s opening:

An excerpt from Green in Black-and-White Times: Conversations with Douglas Livingstone by Books LIVE on Scribd

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A call to action to defend the right to protest: Read an excerpt from Protest Nation


Protest NationUKZN Press has shared an excerpt from its new publication Protest Nation: The Right to Protest in South Africa by Jane Duncan.

South Africa has become a nation defined by its protests. Protests can, and do, bring societal problems to public attention in direct, at times dramatic, ways. But governments the world over are also tempted to suppress this right, as they often feel threatened by public challenges to their authority.

Apartheid South Africa had a shameful history of repressing protests. The architects of the country’s democracy expressed a determination to break with this past and recognise protest as a basic democratic right. Yet, today, there is concern about the violent nature of protests.

Protest Nation challenges the dominant narrative that it has become necessary for the state to step in to limit the right to protest in the broader public interest because media and official representations have created a public perception that violence has become endemic to protests. Bringing together data gathered from municipalities, the police, protestor and activist interviews, as well as media reports, the book analyses the extent to which the right to protest is respected in democratic South Africa. It throws a spotlight on the municipal role in enabling or mostly thwarting the right.

This book is a call to action to defend the right to protest: a right that is clearly under threat. It also urges South Africans to critique the often-skewed public discourses that inform debates about protests and their limitations.

About the author

Jane Duncan is a professor in the Department of Journalism, Film and Television at the University of Johannesburg. She was the executive director of the Freedom of Expression Institute, and has written widely on freedom of expression, the right to protest and media policy.

Introductin to Protest Nation: The Right to Protest in South Africa by Books LIVE on Scribd


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‘How I Write’ – by literary legend Lewis Nkosi

Lewis Nkosi in Command
Image: Victor Dlamini


Writing HomeUKZN Press has shared an excerpt from the recently released Writing Home: Lewis Nkosi on South African Writing, edited by Lindy Stiebel and Michael Chapman.

Lewis Nkosi, who died in 2010, was a writer and essayist who spent 40 years in exile. He returned to South Africa, intermittently, after the unbannings of 1990, but his critical eye never left his home for long.

Writing Home showcases Nkosi’s wit, irony and moral toughness. In it, he assesses a range of leading writers, including Herman Charles Bosman, Breyten Breytenbach, JM Coetzee, Athol Fugard, Nadine Gordimer, Bessie Head, Alex la Guma, Bloke Modisane, Es’kia Mphahlele, Nat Nakasa, Njabulo S Ndebele, Alan Paton and Can Themba.

The following excerpt is taken from a chapter titled “How I Write”.


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How I Write
from wordsetc: South African Literary Journal, First Quarter, 2011

It is not so long ago that European modernists, especially in France, used to say that when we read literature writing is everything. When we read books or listen to stories, we have access to the world through words or the word made flesh, as the Bible put it. The mystery, of course, is how something that seems as immaterial as words can be made flesh.

Recently, I twice broke into tears over the death of two fictional characters during a re-reading of a novel and a play; first over Anna’s death in Anna Karenina, Tolstoy’s famous novel, and then over Cleopatra’s suicide in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. In both works the two women commit suicide over love affairs that have gone badly wrong. Shakespeare’s character is, of course, supposed to be based on a true historical personage, but reading about her in a historical textbook had left me more or less indifferent. So what was it about reading the play about ‘The Serpent of Egypt’ dying defiantly in the throes of love, and trying to avoid humiliation in the hands of the Roman imperialists, that so moved me to tears? Cleo’s pride, her revulsion at being dragged triumphantly through the streets of Rome, achieves a height of sublimity in her self-induced death by the bite of a snake.

Some modernist theorists have sometimes gone so far as to suggest that writing is all, and they claim that beyond writing itself, there is nothing. Maurice Blanchot, then Roland Barthes and, certainly, Jacques Derrida became famously associated with the view that there was ‘nothing outside the text’.

In these discussions, society and the material world are sometimes grandly referred to as the real. The material world is seen as the very ‘outside’ of writing. But is it really? Is the real world that ‘outside’ of what we do when we write and are the effects that writing provokes so beyond comprehension?

After all, my tears shed over two women at the very limit of their despair, over Cleopatra’s suicide and Anna’s death, ground under the wheels of a railway train, were real enough; but how does the creation of illusion manage to produce such real effects? Sympathy, you will say. Empathy. A bit of psychology that goes some way to explain the mystery of the effects upon us of artistic representation, but psychology finally explains nothing.

When it comes to wielding a pen or a brush, how does the manipulation of words or paint finally bring them into contact with the real? It remains a mystery. The mirror is often used as a metaphor, but it is an inexact, even a misleading, metaphor.

The problem of ‘an inside that searches for an outside’ is not confined to art, but extends to questions of political representation. Not surprisingly, critiques of modernity, as two political scientists have told us, reside ‘where the blackmail of bourgeois realism is refused’, going beyond what already exists. Writers certainly and the world or the real resistant to any attempt to capture it through words.

I imagine the same is true of painters and sculptors. In artistic representation, ‘mirroring’ reality became a political issue with the arrival of modernity and the question of political representation. Consequently, what is called ‘true’ representation of reality is linked to the question of ‘authenticity’.

In black America and black South Africa what became prized above everything else in literature was referred to as ‘truth-telling’.

The joke and the irony is the attempt by white South African writers to ‘authenticate’ their works by trying to capture the reality of township life, of which they knew very little, while dismissing the parables of fellow writers such as JM Coetzee as far removed from this ‘reality’.

Nadine Gordimer’s rise to literary pre-eminence was based primarily on the perception in London and New York that she was able to describe life as it was lived by ‘real people’, black and white, in South Africa, but most importantly by black people in the township. When being questioned on Dutch television whether she felt comfortable about describing life in the township when she did not live there, she angrily retorted that she had at least slept for one night in the township!

Gordimer’s problem can thus be seen as the reverse of the black writers who created the so-called ‘township novel’. Not all but many of them began to think it was enough to have lived in the township to produce good novels about township life; craft could look after itself.

For me, writing is primarily a struggle with language; words refusing to be made ‘flesh’. When Shakespeare writes: ‘Full fathom five thy father lies / Of his bones are corals made!’, while I know that English people in the sixteenth century did not really speak like this, I find the lines true because of their music: that alliteration of the ‘f’ sound convinces me that a certain man lay in the depths of the sea as truly as if his body had been detected by laser beams.

What is Anna Karenina to me that I should weep for her? Why do I mourn Cleopatra?

A lot of it has to do with how words are put together. The rest is a mystery.

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Mugabe does not rule alone – Read an excerpt from Power Politics in Zimbabwe by Michael Bratton

Power Politics in ZimbabwePower Politics in Zimbabwe by Michael Bratton is a careful analysis of one of the most controversial presidencies in the world.

In this preeminent book on Robert Mugabe and the ZANU-PF, the author looks at the political settlements, roots of repression, colonial political settlements, the Zimbabwean period of crisis (2000-2008), the power-sharing experiment (2008-2013), and the power politics at play in the country.

Bratton, a distinguished professor of of political science and African studies at Michigan State University, also reflects on the rewriting of the constitution, improving the electoral conduct, a security-sector reform and tackling transitional justice.

The first chapter takes a look at the power politics in Zimbabwe and gives an outline of the book. US publishers Lynne Rienner, who first released this book in 2014, have made an excerpt available; giving readers the opportunity to sample the first chapter in its entirety.

Read the excerpt:

Power Politics in Zimbabwe – Excerpt

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Read ‘The Room of Family Holidays’ from Kobus Moolman’s Glenna Luschei Prize-winning anthology

Read “The Room of Family Holidays” from Kobus Moolman’s Glenna Luschei Prize-winning anthology

A Book of RoomsUKZN Press and Deep South Publishing have shared an excerpt from Kobus Moolman’s poetry anthology A Book of Rooms, which was announced as the winner of the 2015 Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry this week.

The Glenna Luschei Prize is a pan-African poetry award worth $5 000 (about R84 000), overseen by the African Poetry Book Fund in partnership with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s literary journal Prairie Schooner.

In her comments, Judge Gabeba Baderoon called A Book of Rooms “electric, visceral, brilliantly experimental, and profoundly moving”.

Moolman was a guest of the Winter Warmer Festival in Cork, Ireland, last year, and his reading of “The Room of Family Holidays” is available to view on YouTube:

YouTube Preview Image


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Read the poem:


The Room of Family Holidays
Bright sunlight. Fat smell of frying.

There is a long

window with thick metal burglar bars painted white The window
runs the length

of the room and looks out across the deep blue Indian ocean on
the south coast of

Natal It is a long narrow room with three single beds One bed is
perpendicular to the

room, in the middle, with its head against the back wall facing
the ocean (This bed is

reserved for his sister) A second bed is directly underneath the
window, and horizontal

to it, at the far end of the room The third bed is in the same
position but up against

the back wall The second bed is a source of continual dispute
between himself and

his brother Because both boys always want to sleep right by the
window so they can

be the first to see the ocean and to see the sun come up This
dispute is finally solved

by their father (with the help of his strap) who decides that they
must take turns to be

at the window on their annual Christmas holidays Although this
still does not prevent

them arguing over who slept there last and whose turn it is this
time About to go

into his final year at high school he feels that such squabbles are
below him, and he

magnanimously allows his brother access to the bed by the
window without any

argument, and with only a superior smile He feels that he is on
the brink of something

very significant in his life, something almost adult And though he
will perhaps feel

this same overwhelming power again For example when he buys
his first car, a 1982

white VW Jetta Mk1, or when he publishes his first – and only –
piece of writing, a

rhyming poem on Mother’s Day in a consumer tabloid distributed
free from local Spar

supermarkets It will never be with the same absolute confidence
in his ability to get

what he wants And what he wants now is to find a way to talk to
the long-legged blonde

girl who stays in the big cottage at the top of the road, with its
own private access

to the beach via a long flight of steps made from old railway
sleepers And so he

doubles up on the arm and chest and leg exercises he does with
his expander springs

(the thick ones with the blue handles, not the red ones which are
too easy) Even

though his mother warns him not to strain himself And he swims
in the surf directly

in front of her house even at high tide (when his mother warns
him not to because of

his weak legs and the strong undertow) And he tans himself at
low tide on the flat

black rocks in full view of her pathway So that she has no choice
but to notice him

And when she smiles at him on the third day and says hello how
are you on the fourth

he knows with a certainty as firm as the black rocks that he is
chosen And that

he will always get what he wants Just by willing it And on the fifth
day she invites

him to her house and into her small bedroom (with a big blue
teddy bear on the bed)

and together they listen to a stretched tape of the Beatles’
Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely

Hearts Club Band (I’d love to turn you on) And on New Year’s Eve
they walk hand

in hand as the white sun sets behind them, along the beach to a
party on the wet sand

where he drinks Spook en Diesel (just like his father’s policemen
friends) out of a

polystyrene cup and the blonde girl is asked to dance by an older
boy, a university student

he assumes, because of his long hair, who comes to the party in
a red beach buggy

with a surf board tied to the top, and who makes the girl laugh by
whispering something

in her ear And he (the boy with a hole in his heart, at the heart of
this story) feels everything

crumble and slide away beneath his small feet in their differently sized
orthopaedic boots

And he leaves without saying anything to the girl And stumbles
home along the cold

moonless beach He knows that if he goes home now his mother
will want to know

What’s wrong? What happened? Are you alright? And she will
want to kiss it all

better (As she always does) But he is much too old for all of that
stuff now So he

hunches behind a dune smelling of damp vegetation and rotten
fish-bait and dog turds

and he sniffs his right hand repeatedly, the hand that held onto
hers (and smells of

coconut oil and Simba Puffs) and he licks it and puts it inside his
trousers and he waits

until it is midnight and the fire-crackers have died down and he
can open their back

door and creep into the sleeping house And in the morning his
mother spoils their

whole family by frying bacon and eggs for breakfast (sunny-side
up) with white toast

This is a special treat Just for holidays she says smiling at him
Because apart from

his father who eats mielie pap every morning for breakfast
everyone else always

has Pronutro, regular or chocolate flavoured, with milk and no
sugar And that is

that Finish en klaar That is the morning when he learns how
much easier it always is to pretend than to admit a painful truth.

* * * * *


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Read the Introduction to Creating Africas by Knut G Nustad and View Photographs from the Book

Creating AfricasCreating Africas: Struggles Over Nature, Conservation and Land by Knut G Nustad investigates the roots of the current conservation boom, demonstrates that it is part of a struggle over definitions of realities, and examines the global effects of this struggle.

In Creating Africas, Nustad discusses the first Unesco World Heritage Site in South Africa, the iSimangaliso (St Lucia) Wetland Park, and argues that any conservation lobby needs to find a way of imagining nature and protection that includes people.

In the introduction to Creating Africas, Nustad reflects on the strange experience of working with conservation and protected areas during the course of writing the book. Read the extract and look at a selection of photographs from Creating Africas.

Read the Introduction:

Excerpt from Creating Africas: Struggles Over Nature, Conservation and Land by Books LIVE



Look at the photographs from Creating Africas:

Photo Section from Creating Africas by Books LIVE


1. Protected Areas and the Nature–Society Divide
2. Natures and Environments: From Representations to Realities

3. From Hunting Grounds to Productive Fields
4. Early Conservation and Tourism Nature
5. Human Settlements and Forced Removals in Dukuduku
6. Dukuduku as Dispossessed Land
7. Reality Wars: Competing Natures on the River Beds

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Is Democratic SA Founded on the “Spirit of Law”? Read an Excerpt from Leonhard Praeg’s Report on Ubuntu

Report on UbuntuIn his book, Report on Ubuntu, Leonhard Praeg probes the possibilities of a politics premised on shared humanity.

The associate professor in the Department of Political and International Studies at Rhodes University interrogates the claim that democratic South Africa is founded on the “spirit of law”, 20 years after the end of apartheid.

UKZN Press shared an extract from Report on Ubuntu, in which Praeg explains the title of the study. The author opens the book with a quote by Ato Quayson from “Obverse Denominations: Africa?”: “We have always been consigned to responding from the place where we ought not to have been standing.”

The introduction consists of three fragments: Responsibility, The Political, and Critical Humanism.

Read the extract on Scribd:

A Report on Ubuntu by LittleWhiteBakkie


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Discover DLP Yali-Manisi, the Legendary Xhosa Imbongi Who Died in Obscurity

DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali ZamanyangeWilliam Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembaliUKZN Press has shared the introduction from Volume 2 of The Opland Collection of Xhosa Literature, DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange: Historical Poems.

The Opland Collection of Xhosa Literature, edited by Jeff Opland and Pamela Maseko, contains research into Xhosa folklore, especially praise poetry, and the history of Xhosa literature.

It includes field recordings of Xhosa poets (1969–85), books and pamphlets in isiXhosa, and copies of literature published in ephemera.

The Publications Series recognises works previously unrecognised or unavailable as published books.

The first two volumes in the series, William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembali and DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange: Historical Poems, were published in early 2015.
Read an excerpt from Volume 1:

Read the excerpt from Volume 2:

Introduction to DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange: Historical Poems by Books LIVE


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Related news:


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The Complicity of Silence During the Struggle: Read an Excerpt from I Speak to the Silent by Mtutuzeli Nyoka

I Speak to the SilentI Speak to the Silent is an exciting novel by Mtutuzeli Nyoka, a powerful storyteller who tells his history as he sees it.

The novel tells Walter Hambile Kondile’s story – “a simple man, a Xhosa and an African, whose life is of no significance to the world”. He is the typical “good native” of his generation, poorly educated and subservient, brought up to know his place and believe that “it was God’s design for the white man to rule over me”.

But this unquestioning obedience is called into rebellion when his beloved daughter Sindiswa, a committed young struggle activist, goes missing in exile. Kondile’s search leads him to Lesotho and grim discoveries of betrayal that shatter forever his own “complicity of silence”, committing him to an irrevocable path of no return.

Originally published by UKZN Press, I Speak to the Silent has been included in the new Picador Africa Classics Series where it has been made available as an e-book.

Nyoka has shared an excerpt from his book on his personal website. Read it to get a taste of this exceptional title:

Chapter 1

On a rainy day in my fifth year in prison, I received a note from a Mr John Smith. He wanted to meet with me. I could see the ocean, dark and brooding. The waves undulated as if excited by the falling rain and the clouds hung low and menacing. I was deep in thought, my mind swirling with sad memories. I had received similar requests before. At first they would send a sudden gust, a ripple of excitement, through my body. Later, they became a source of annoyance and irritation.

A young coloured warder brought the note to me. He was very polite. He must have been new. Politeness was rare in prison. The warders mostly believed that to handle animals effectively you must be one yourself. I was consequently terrified of them. Their moods ranged from indifferent to callous, and their behaviour, from strange to downright wicked. The prison jungle that was our home could pollute the mind and soul of even the most decent human being. Some of the warders enjoyed using their batons.

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Discover a Legendary Xhosa Man of Letters in an Excerpt from William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe Esinembali

William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembaliDLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali ZamanyangeUKZN Press has shared the introduction from Volume 1 of The Opland Collection of Xhosa Literature, William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembali: Xhosa histories and poetry (1873–1888).

The Opland Collection of Xhosa Literature, edited by Jeff Opland and Pamela Maseko, is the academic library Opland assembled in the course of his research into Xhosa folklore, especially praise poetry, and the history of Xhosa literature.

Its contents include field recordings of Xhosa poets (1969–85), books and pamphlets in isiXhosa, and copies of literature published in ephemera. The Publications Series draws on material in the Collection, and presents diplomatic editions with English translations of significant works in isiXhosa, for the most part previously unrecognised or unavailable as published books.

The first two volumes in the series, William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembali and DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange: Historical Poems, were published in early 2015.

Related news:


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Read the excerpt:

Introduction from William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembali: Xhosa histories and poetry (1873–1888) by Books LIVE


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Book details

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