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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

‘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”.

Enjoy!

* * * * *

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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Quality academic work recognised and celebrated – UKZN Press authors honoured with awards

Book awards play an important role in the recognition of the quality of books published, especially in a market where book stores may be constrained with the range of books they are able to stock.

UKZN Press is proud to announce that two of its titles led the way in the recent inaugural National Institute of the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS) Book, Creative and Digital Awards.

Class in SowetoWorld of LettersAntjie Krog and the Post-Apartheid Public Sphere

 
Submissions opened last year to honour outstanding, innovative and socially responsive scholarship that enhances and advances fields in the humanities and social sciences. The books categories celebrate members of the Humanities and Social Sciences community who are undertaking the vital work of creating post-apartheid and postcolonial forms of scholarship.

Peter Alexander, Claire Ceruti, Keke Motseke, Mosa Phadi and Kim Wale took first prize in the Non-fiction: Edited collection section for their book Class in Soweto.

Corinne Sandwith, author of World of Letters: Reading Communities and Cultural Debates in Early Apartheid South Africa was shortlisted in the Non-fiction: Manuscript category.

In her pioneering study, Sandwith recovers a rich historical tradition of public and cultural debates about literature and communities in early apartheid South Africa and this book was also honoured by her winning the Vice-Chancellor’s Book Award – University of Pretoria. Before Professor Sandwith took up her position at the University of Pretoria in 2014, she taught for many years in the English Studies Department at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Antjie Krog and the Post-Apartheid Public Sphere: Speaking Poetry to Power by Anthea Garman was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Book Prize at Rhodes University. In her book, Garman looks at how Antjie Krog became known to English speakers for her opposition to apartheid, especially at a time when South Africa was not only looking for a humane and just resolution post-1994, but was also establishing itself as a new democracy.

UKZN Press is proud to continue striving for excellence through the books that we publish. We congratulate our authors on their commitment to their writing and look forward to celebrating awards like this in the future.

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Writing Home: Lewis Nkosi on South African Writing – new from UKZN Press!

Writing HomeUKZN Press is excited to present Writing Home: Lewis Nkosi on South African Writing edited by Lindy Stiebel and Michael Chapman.

Lewis Nkosi’s insights into South African literature, culture and society first appeared in the 1950s, when the “new” urban African in Sophiatown and on Drum magazine mockingly opposed then Prime Minister HF Verwoerd’s Bantu retribalisation policies. Before his death in 2010, Nkosi focused on the literary-cultural challenges of post-Mandela times.

Having lived for 40 years in exile, he returned to South Africa, intermittently, after the unbannings of 1990. His critical eye, however, never for long left the home scene. Hence, the title of this selection of his articles, essays and reviews, Writing Home.

Writing home with wit, irony and moral toughness, Nkosi 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.

Combining the journalist’s penchant for the human-interest story with astute analysis, Nkosi’s ideas, observations and insights are as fresh today as when he began his 60-year career as a writer and critic.

Selected from his out-of-print collections, Home and Exile, The Transplanted Heart and Tasks and Masks, as well as from journals and magazines, Nkosi’s punchy commentaries will appeal to a wide readership.

About the editors

Lindy Stiebel is a professor of English Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and visiting professor at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Michael Chapman is affiliated as a senior researcher to the Durban University of Technology. He is also an emeritus professor and fellow of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

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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

 

* * * * *

 

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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Afrikaans is one of the fastest growing languages in South Africa: Linguist Kerry Jones explains

Ju|’hoan Children’s Picture DictionaryKerry Jones, co-author of the award-winning Ju|’hoan Children’s Picture Dictionary, spoke to News24 recently, dispelling the notion that Afrikaans is an endangered language.

When asked, “Would you consider Afrikaans an endangered language?”, Jones has a firm answer at the ready:

Absolutely not. Absolutely not. If you look at the national census data you will will see that Afrikaans is one of the fastest growing languages in South Africa. It is one of our youngest, it’s around 300 years old, but it is one of the fastest growing languages. Not only as a mother tongue, but as an additional language. People are speaking Afrikaans as a lingua franca; it is used as a second, third and fourth language; it’s a language of employment; it’s a language of education; it’s also a language of media and literacy.

So it is by no stretch of the imagination disappearing and it spreads well beyond our borders. There are even large Afrikaans-speaking communities in Argentina and New Zeeland, so it’s definitely not only a South African flavour.

Jones, a linguistics specialist from African Tongue Professional Linguistic Consultancy, which specialises in minority African languages – especially Khoe and San – is currently working on a PHD in intergenerational language transfer. Watch the interview to see how she became interested in this topic and how she came to write Ju|’hoan Children’s Picture Dictionary:

YouTube Preview Image

 

Related links:

 

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UKZN Press congratulates Kobus Moolman on winning the prestigious Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry

Kobus Moolman

 
A Book of RoomsUKZN Press author Kobus Moolman is the winner of the 2015 Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry.

Moolman was awarded the prestigious prize for his latest collection, A Book of Rooms, published by Deep South Publishing, and distributed by UKZN Press.

Hearty congratulations to Moolman!

About the book

A Book of Rooms, Kobus Moolman’s new collection of poetry, deepens the explorations of his recent books Light and After and Left Over. While their Beckett-like sparseness and doggedness is still there, A Book of Rooms moves into a realist-biographical narrative form. Arranged in physically dense scenes described as ‘rooms’, it inhabits the childhood and young adulthood of a man with a serious physical disability growing up in a grim family environment in the final years of the white side of apartheid. The reader is compelled immediately into the character’s bleak and constant meetings with pain and failure. Yet inside this present-tense current can be felt a powerful will to live, sharp flashes of humour – and an even more powerful drive to know the truth.

Critical comments on Moolman’s two previous books:

“The reader is constantly located in the artist’s body negotiating between the physical space of bricks and mortar, and the inner, imagined reality which is a shifting, unreliable space … The highlight of this collection is the third section, entitled “Anatomy” … an extended meditation on the body as the place of fragmentation and reconnection, depersonalistion and reintegration … searing, honest and brave, opening to the reader in progressively intimate revelations that enable one to experience firsthand the narrator’s visceral reality.”

Liesl Jobson reviewing Light and After (2011) in FMR Book Choice 2011

“Working through a Moolman volume is both a rewarding and exhausting experience … However in a country where poems are too often simply sound-bites for fleeting perceptions and states of mind, [...] Moolman moves into a different space entirely, and has taken a much more difficult and honest path. The reader will emerge from this poetry chastened but delighted. They are works of acumen, depth and extraordinary pressure.”

Kelwyn Sole reviewing Left Over (2013) in New Coin, June 2014

About the author

Kobus Moolman is the author of seven collections of poetry, and several plays. He has won almost every poetry prize offered in South Africa: the Ingrid Jonker prize, the PANSA award, the South African Literary Award, the DALRO poetry prize and the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry award. He teaches creative writing at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

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Find out more about influential isiZulu author Nakanjani G Sibiya, editor of Amagalelo

AmagaleloNakanjani G Sibiya is the author and editor of a number of isiZulu books across various genres.

He has published five volumes of short stories, four dramas and is the editor or co-author of seven anthologies of short stories.

Sibiya’s debut collection of short stories, Ikusasa Eliqhakazile, won the JL Dube Award for Prose, and in 2003 he was awarded the M-Net Book Prize for his debut novel Kuxolelwa Abanjani?

In 2004 Kuxolelwa Abanjani? also received the BW Vilakazi Prize, the most prestigious award for isiZulu literature.

Sibiya holds a PhD from the University of Zululand and works as an editor and lecturer. His most recent book is Amagalelo.

Manie Groenewald’s article “Theme, plot and narration in the novels of NG Sibiya”, published in the South African Journal of African Languages, examines Sibiya’s impact on isiZulu literature:

Nakanjani G Sibiya has made a considerable contribution to isiZulu literature. In this article his two novels, Kuxolelwa abanjani? and Bengithi lizokuna, which can be typified as moral stories, are analysed according to selected aspects of narratology. The moral story seeks to expose immoral deeds and to show that these deeds have dire consequences for individuals, families and the community. Although Sibiya creates multiple story lines – this is especially true of Kuxolelwa abanjani? – he manages to link them in order to unify the story. The author’s use of analepses (‘flashbacks’) and postponement of the answer avoid monotonous chronological narration and serve to complete the story. While ironic situations and coincidences are meant to emphasise the consequences of immoral deeds, they too add interest to the reading experience. The author also employs various narrative techniques to enhance the reading experience. Although instances of unreliability occur in the two novels, Sibiya has enriched isiZulu literature with these two novels; this is mainly due to his ability to write narrative prose that captivates the reader. He has also captivated the reader with the novel topic of homosexuality and transsexuality in Bengithi lizokuna.

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Zuma and Buthelezi Pay Tribute to Struggle Stalwart and Nobel Peace Laureate Albert Luthuli

Zuma with Daughter of Albert Luthuli

Albert LuthuliCommemorating the 50th anniversary of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Chief Albert Luthuli, President Jacob Zuma gave a heart-felt memorial lecture at the Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban last week.

Paying tribute to Luthuli’s achievements and service to his country, President Zuma made it a point to note that, while Luthuli was not the architect of MK, as a member and leader of the ANC, he supported the decisions made by the party as a collective – a contention that Scott Couper, author of Albert Luthuli: Bound by Faith, might find somewhat problematic. Read more of the speech below:

We have come together on this special evening to celebrate the service to humanity of a man who left an indelible mark in our lives and our history, Chief Albert John Mvumbi Luthuli.

This memorial lecture affords us the opportunity to celebrate the life and teachings of Chief Luthuli not only as an ANC leader, but also as a leader beyond the confines of the congress movement.

He made himself available to serve in many community structures, in various capacities.

He is known as a traditional leader, lay preacher, devoted Christian, teacher, college choirmaster, sports and cultural activist.

The fact that he was also a sugar cane farmer and led the Sugar Cane Growers Association proves his belief that you cannot divorce political emancipation from economic emancipation.

Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s Address at Launch of Albert Luthuli: Bound by Faith

Mangosuthu Buthelezi

Following in the spirit of the President’s Memorial Lecture, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi shared some of his own history with and fond memories of Chief Albert Luthuli at the November 27th launch of Bound by Faith:

From the time of my birth, I was taken straight from Ceza Hospital to the Palace of my uncle, King Solomon ka Dinuzulu, KwaDlamahlahla Palace. My uncle died at the young age of 40 years. My younger uncle, Prince Mshiyeni ka Dinuzulu, became Regent during the interregnum.

During the interregnum, many Zulu gatherings called izimbizo were held at the Regent’s Residence at KwaSokesimbone. Many important men attended these imbizos, and at other times just visited the Regent. Among these important men were my uncle Dr Pixley ka Isaka Seme, the founder of the ANC, the Reverend Dr Langalibalele Dube, the first President of the ANC, and Dr Edgar Brookes, the Senator who represented the Zulu Nation in the South African Senate and Principal of Adams College. The Rev. Dube and Dr Edgar Brookes were sometimes in the company of Inkosi of Abasemakholweni in Groutville, Inkosi Albert Mvumbi Luthuli.

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Images courtesy Presidency Flickr Photostream and PoliticsWeb


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Book Launch (Durban): Race Trouble: Race, Identity and Inequality in Post-apartheid South Africa

Race Trouble - Launch Invite

Race TroubleUKZN Press and Adams Books invite you to the launch of Race Trouble: Race, Identity and Inequality in Post-apartheid South Africa.

Race Trouble provides an analysis of the racial situation in post-apartheid South Africa and makes an argument for a shift in focus in the social sciences, from racism to a more nuanced look at “race trouble”. Instead of making judgements of racism, this innovative and accessible book confronts the ways that we “do race” in our everyday interactions.

Kopano Ratele will be the guest speaker for the evening. See you there!

Event Details

Book Details

  • Race Trouble: Race, Identity and Inequality in Post-apartheid South Africa by Kevin Durrheim, Xoliswa Mtose, Lyndsay Brown
    EAN: 9781869141998

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