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Archive for the ‘Short Stories’ Category

Durban book launch of The Swimming Lesson and Other Stories by Kobus Moolman

University of KwaZulu-Natal Press and Adams Books invite you to the launch of The Swimming Lesson and other stories.

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Book launch: The Swimming Lesson and other stories by Kobus Moolman

UKZN Press and Epworth School invite you to the launch of Kobus Moolman’s The Swimming Lesson and other stories.

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Fiction Friday: read an extract from Kobus Moolman’s The Swimming Lesson and Other Stories

Award-winning author Kobus Moolman’s latest short story collection, The Swimming Lesson and Other Stories, has received praise for its unconventional perspectives. Moolman’s anthology consists of 10 short stories. Read an extract from the first story, Shelter here:

There are two bus shelters just around the corner from where he lives in Greyling Street – from the house he has always lived in. One bus shelter he likes and uses most of the time; mainly to wait for the Saturday morning bus to take him to town, to the children’s library in the centre of town, or to the OK Bazaars to buy himself a Lucky Packet (in the shape of a small, brightly-coloured cardboard suitcase) with money he received for his birthday, or to King’s Sports to look at their bats or to get another tennis ball after his was confiscated by the woman next door for damaging her flowers during a cricket match between his brother and himself.

The other bus shelter – the one he does not like – is probably closer, but he does not use it. He is not able to walk long distances, so it would make sense to use this one. But he does not. He cannot even remember ever having used it, although he knows that he must have at some point (or driven past it with his parents), for how else would he have known that he did not like it?

Sometimes he thinks it is because his favourite shelter is situated along the exact road he walks to school every week from Monday to Friday (excepting school holidays). If this is true – and already he knows enough about himself to suspect so – then he feels just a little afraid, for it would mean that he is a creature of habit; that he is, in fact, already laying down on a daily basis a pattern of living he might come to regret at some point in his
future.

But the future is too far away for him to be concerned. He is nine years old and he cannot see any reason why he should not remain nine for the rest of his life. His favourite bus shelter is made of tin. It is closed on three sides and has a roof that sticks out like the peak of a cap. The seat is not solid but consists of two polished wooden strips. When he
sits he can swing his legs vigorously and his feet do not scrape the pavement. There is a pole painted yellow just in front of the shelter – in fact, it stands between the shelter and the edge of the road.

There is a small sign on the top of the pole with a number on it, but he does not remember ever taking notice of it. He waits always for the bus with ‘City/Stad’ displayed in black capitalletters onthe front. When he returns from town, from his solitary shopping expedition, he looks for the bus marked ‘Clarendon’. He does not live in this fancy suburb on the hill – his father is a storeman in a chocolate factory – but the bus that goes there has to drive through a section of the lower end of town where he lives.

He is not yet conscious of any difference in his life as a result of living in a street where people have names like Koekie and Poppie and the Eyetie, and where they fix their cars in the front garden or in the road because they don’t have a garden at all. However, he is aware that there is something different about him because of the way people look at him when he climbs onto the bus or walks into a shop, and then he understands why his mother fusses over him so much and why he is not part of any of the gangs at school. He is not sure but he suspects that another reason he likes this small tin bus shelter is because he cannot be seen once he is inside and has drawn up his legs onto the seat beside him like a pair of crutches.

This desire to hide himself away is perhaps yet another pattern he realises that he is building for himself, from which he will not be able to escape. But he does not know what else a small boy can do who is not able to run or jump or play team sports like other children. The other children do not want him on their team. He is too slow. He falls over when they pass the ball to him. He wets himself from anxiety.

He was included once, though. In a football match between the boys and the girls. When he played goalie for the girls. He saved a goal on that occasion, and all the girls jumped up and down and screamed and put their arms around him, and one girl even kissed him on the cheek, twice – a small girl with freckles on her face and a pale skin and sad mouth that was always turned
down. They still lost 7–0 though.

On another occasion, an occasion of which he is extraordinarily proud, he won the Dressing-Up Race at school. This was the first and the only race he has ever won in his short life. In the race the boys had to run to a large heap of clothing piled up in the middle of the field which they had brought from the wardrobe of their big sister or their mother. (This part of the race he naturally lost.) Dresses, shoes, hats and handbags were all jumbled together and the boys had to scrabble and scratch around first to find all of their mother’s or older sister’s items. Then they had to get dressed as quickly as they could – dropping the awkward frocks over their small shoulders – and, hitching up their trailing skirts, run slideshuffling in oversize shoes to the finish line at the end of the field.

He won this part of the race hands down. His favourite game at home is to dress up in his older sister’s outfits and parade around the house talking to himself as if he were some high-society lady. He knows how to do up buttons and zips; how to slide-shuffle in his mother’s shoes that fit snugly over his small, black orthopaedic
boots. ‘Stop that!’ his mother would always shout at him. ‘You’re stretching my shoes.’ But she never took her shoes away.

His prize for winning the race that day was an inflatable figure of a clown that stood upright once its bottom had been weighted with water. It was virtually impossible then to knock the smiling plastic man over. No matter how hard he punched or kicked it the clown would simply bounce straight back up again. Down and up, down and up the little figure would go all day long, no matter how hard he hit it. Down and straight back up again. Down and straight back up again. He thinks that this is a very good description of how he walks, too. He tells himself that at least he knows how to fall without hurting himself.

There are two ways he can walk to get to the small tin shelter to catch the ‘City/Stad’ bus. When he comes out of his green front gate he can either walk all the way down Greyling Street until he comes to Oxford Street, turn right at the house with the knobbly walls, walk straight up this street with its crooked and uneven paving blocks, turn left at the bottom into Boom Street, past the little café on the corner, and on to the bus shelter a hundred metres or so below. This is the one way. What he calls the Long Way. Though by normal standards it is not long at all.

Or he can take the short route. In actuality, it is probably not much shorter (if at all), and really only involves cutting out the greater part of Boom Street by taking a tiny lane (Stead Lane) that sneaks behind the unkempt backyards of the same houses that front onto the Long Way. It is, however, the more interesting route. At least for a boy who enjoys tales of the weird and the wonderful. For, apart from the overgrown backyards with their rusty corrugated iron fences and scraggly fruit trees, the Short Way has the attraction of two strange creatures. Again, not strange by normal standards. But strange enough for someone who has spent their entire life in one street in the lower end of the city.

The first creature is a white goose. It makes him think of ‘The Snow Goose’. But this bird from Stead Lane is definitely not the same ideal of unwavering affection that the Snow Goose is in the story he likes to listen to on his sister’s record. It hisses like a snake and twists its long neck about just like a snake when he walks
down the lane. Because he knows that it cannot get through the wire fence (its wings have also been clipped, his father assures him) he sometimes stands for a long time enjoying the terrifying thrill of danger while the large bird with wings outstretched sways and jabs at the air between them.

But two houses down from the goose is an almost opposite creature. And one of which he is more genuinely afraid since it seems never to notice him, has never made a sound as far as he can remember, and is content simply to stand staring fixedly at him like a mythic beast from one of the books on legends that he always takes out of the library. It is a tall, elegant bird. A blue crane. Rescued perhaps from the side of some rural road where it lay flapping its broken mauve wing helplessly. He does not know for sure. Whatever its origin, he has never seen it move, but knows it is alive only because it is never in the same place in the garden. He does not look at it for long, afraid that, like the Medusa, it will turn its victims to stone.

There is one problem, however, with this short cut which, despite the dangerous and exotic attraction of the birds, causes him more often than not to avoid it. For the end of Stead Lane, where it leads back in to the top part of Boom Street, is a dirt track overgrown on the sides with wild banana trees and bushes that never flower but give off a putrefying smell from their leaves.

The track is often also covered in rubbish. It is a path that he always regrets having to go down, making him wish he had never chosen to walk down the lane to look at the two birds, that he had suffered instead the narrow pavement of Boom Street where the uneven blocks threaten at every step to pitch him into the deep gutters. He tells no one of his fears and his secret thrills. He closes himself off from admitting the truth to anyone, as if he himself were a book that he could simply shut and forget. (But how many stories are there which he does, in fact, forget?) It is a strategy he cannot ever remember learning, but seems to have been born with. As he was born with stupid feet and a hole at the base of his spine. As he was born with soft brown eyes.

Once again he has an intimation that some dark pattern of behaviour is being worn into his being that, once established, he will find it difficult to free himself from. But he does not know how else to survive. It is not a choice. It is simply what he has to do in order to win other dressing-up races. In order not to wet himself
with anxiety when a playmate passes the ball to him, shouting, ‘Score! Score! It’s wide open!’
And he falls.

* * *.

The Swimming Lesson and Other Stories

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Kobus Moolman’s The Swimming Lesson and Other Stories stands out for its unusual perspectives

This story collection by multiple award-winning poet, author and playwright Kobus Moolman is a volume of unconventional potency.

Written in a range of styles, voices and genres, each of the ten stories offers original insights into the difficulties of staying afloat. Whether the challenge is being differently abled (with all the outsider isolation this brings); lower-income family life under unbending patriarchal rule; or being born a female child in an abusive, gendered culture, the narratives are convincing (often humorous) in their portrayal of trapped lives striving for transcendence.

The darkly funny ‘Kiss and the Brigadier’ invokes the stultifying boredom of small-town life and the captured mentalities of its understimulated citizens; ‘Extracts from a Dispensable Life’ offers a creative and sensitive reading of the gender violence theme; while the irreverent but never disrespectful ‘Angel Heart’ ventures into the risky waters of religious send-up.

The Swimming Lesson and Other Stories is a collection that stands out for its unusual perspectives; its frank, often uncomfortable treatment of taboo topics; its creative risk-taking; and its skilful and observant recreation of worlds gone by, which still leave their aftershocks.
 
 

Kobus Moolman is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Western Cape. He has won numerous awards for his writing, including the 2015 Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry, and has presented his work at literary festivals in South Africa, Ireland and Canada.

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Mandla Maphumulo recipient of the PanSALB Award for Inhlamvu Yelanga

Mandla Abednego Maphumulo has won the PanSALB Award (2016-2017) in the Language and Literature Category (isiZulu) for his book Inhlamvu Yelanga, a collection of short stories in isiZulu.

This PanSALB Award recognises both the written and the oral modes of linguistic and/or literary expression. It is for individuals/writers who have contributed to the promotion and preservation of all the official South African languages i.e. Sesotho sa Leboa, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa and isiZulu, Khoi, Nama, San, as well as sign language.

Congratulations, Mandla!

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UKZN Press reveal covers for new books!

With subject matters as diverse as Zulu short stories, reference books on Southern African architectural terms, and the role of NGOs in bringing about social justice, UKZN Press has a vast array of exciting new titles which are now available. Read all about the featured books here.

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  • The Art of Life in South Africa by Daniel R. MagazinerThe Art of Life in South Africa
    EAN: 9780821422519
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

    • Inhlamvu Yelanga edited by Mandla MaphumuloInhlamvu Yelanga

    EAN: 9781869143275
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

  • Living Together, Living Apart?: Social Cohesion in a Future South Africa by Christopher Ballantine, Kira Erwin, Gerhard MareLiving Together, Living Apart?
    EAN: 9781869143329
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 


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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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“Moaning is One of the Most Boring Art Forms”: Gcina Mhlophe Recommends Sharing Stories Instead

Umcelo Nezindaba Zase-AfrikaUmcelo Neentsomi Zase-AfrikaStories of AfricaHave You Seen Zandile?
Love ChildOur Story MagicHi Zoleka!Haai Zoleka!

 
Gcina Mhlophe, actress and storyteller, was recently featured on Thabiso Sikwane’s lunchtime radio show on Power FM to speak about the new Oral History Museum, which is opening in Durban.

The Oral History Museum, which also goes by the Story House, has been a dream of Mhlophe’s for a long time. Transferring knowledge to younger generations is an important means of culture.

Before discussing the museum, Sikwane and Mhlophe speak about the Fees Must Fall movement. Mhlophe’s emphasises the importance of education, saying “I’m right behind you, babies”.

Just as the student movements this year have allowed young people to make themselves heard, the Story House is a space for South Africans to tell their stories. For Mhlophe, this has been a long time coming: “It’s been 20 years of wishing and longing and praying for an oral history museum to be opened in this country, where ordinary South Africans can tell their stories.”

Mhlophe hopes that people will take this opportunity to tell their stories instead of complaining what a poor job the rest of the world is doing representing them. “Let’s just do it,” she says “moaning is one of the most boring art forms”.

Listen to the podcast:


 

 
Related Stories:

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Good Stories and Great Dreams: Gcina Mhlophe Describes Her Hopes for Young South Africans (Video)

Umcelo Nezindaba Zase-AfrikaUmcelo Neentsomi Zase-AfrikaStories of AfricaHave You Seen Zandile?
Love ChildOur Story MagicHi Zoleka!Haai Zoleka!

 
Gcina Mhlophe, actress and storyteller, was recently interviewed by Jennifer Sanasie for News 24.

Mhlophe, who had just given a talk to a group of young people, told Sanasie about how “honoured and humbled” she is to hear about how her work has affected and inspired her audience, and says she is “so excited to see and hear what young people are doing in South Africa today”.

She goes on to speak about the importance of young people being allowed to express their dreams, disappointments and good stories.

Watch the video:

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Gcina Mhlophe’s 57th Birthday Celebrated with Friends and Fans (Video)

Haai Zoleka!Hi Zoleka!Umcelo Nezindaba Zase-AfrikaUmcelo Neentsomi Zase-Afrika
Have You Seen Zandile?Love ChildOur Story Magic

 
Gcina Mhlophe recently celebrated her 57th birthday at an event hosted by Newtown Junction.

Friends shared birthday messages, and many people who have been inspired and entertained by the beloved storyteller joined in to wish her well.

Yvonne Chaka Chaka complimented her as a “good-hearted person”, and said she didn’t know her own age. Poets Zaide Hearnecker and Natalia Molebatsi added their well-wishes, as did a host of musicians with whom Mhlope has worked.

Watch the video of personal birthday messages for Mhlophe:

YouTube Preview Image

The celebration included photo opportunities, the chance to write a birthday message, and plenty of singing by Mhlophe and others.

Watch the video:

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Image courtesy of Motivation Speakers Bookings


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