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Book Launch: The Five Fruits of the “Ek is ‘n Skrywer” Programme

Ek is 'n Skrywer LaunchIn 2004, You, Huisgenoot, Drum, Human & Rousseau Publishers, SABC Education and Radiosondergrense launched a unique writing initiative: Ek is ‘n Skrywer, which saw young authors participate in a multi-media writing school, and simultaneously enter a competition to have their work published.

From 2004 till 2006 an on-air writing school was presented on Wednesdays at 20:00 on RSG’s program ZIP and in April 2005 the biggest and most representative writing competition for unpublished, young and aspiring authors kicked off. The radio show never left the air, and writing tips were aired on SABC TV and published in You, Huisgenoot and Drum.

From a total of 872 entries in Afrikaans, English, Sotho and the Nguni languages, submited across three categories (open, grade 7-9 and grade 4-6), Human and Rousseau is proud to present the five manuscripts selected for publication, which will be launched on 25 October 2007 (see below for the event’s details):

Vuil skottelgoed by Derick Muller (the overall Afrikaans winner); The Goblet Club by SA Partridge (the overall English winner); Oos by Marion Erskine; Hemelhel by Martinus de Beer; and Vyf ses skerp mes by Brigette Labuschagne.

In January 2007, each of the authors was assigned an editor to develop their entries into publishable books – the first time that a publishing company has invested time, money and resources in young writing talent on such a scale. The results? Five novels that bridge the gap between youth and adult fiction. Five novels that reflect the voice of young South Africans. Five novels that present something new, fresh and exciting. Please find more information about these exceptional debuts below.

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 25 October 2007
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: Neighbourhood Bar, 163 Long Street
    Cape Town | Map
  • RSVP: Alicia Hendricks, alicia.hendricks@nb.co.za, 021 406 3477

Book Details

ABOUT THE BOOKS

Derick MullerVuil skottelgoed by Derick Muller

Dit is ’n punk-roman, en die taalgebruik kom uit die rowwe wêrelde van rockmusikante en skaatsplankryers. Dit is ook ’n grootwordverhaal waarin die hoofkarakter, ene Bastian, gelouter word in die “moshpit” van die Kaapse naglewe.

Bastian rebelleer teen sy ouers se voorneme om hom na matriek op Stellenbosch in die regte te laat studeer en loop weg Kaapstad toe. In die Kaap kry hy werk by ’n skaatsplank-winkel in Langstraat en word lid van ’n Afrikaanse punkgroep. In egte punk-styl is selfs hierdie groep se naam een van die boek se talle skokeffekte.

Soms gaan skaats Bastian nog vir die afwisseling by die Kunstekaap of iewers in ’n Woodstockse nywerheidsgebied, maar eintlik is sy Kaapse bestaan net ’n maalkolk van drank, dwelms, seks, hard rock en nog harder patytjies.

Net voordat hy heeltemal ingesluk en fyngemaal word, sien hy die lig en gaan terug na sy ouerhuis in Kimberley. Hy is bly hy het met sy lewe daarvan afgekom, maar dit is nou nie asof die plek waarvan hy weggeloop het verander het nie. Dit is steeds die trietse middelklasbestaan, en hoewel sy ouers bly is om hom terug te hê, is hulle nog so kleinburgerlik soos wat hulle was. Is daar ’n uitweg? Bastian vaar weer in sy pa se drankkabinet in en so beland hy op die randjie van selfmoord. In die slot van die roman balanseer hy op die fyn lyntjie tussen lewe en dood, en dan tuimel hy tog oor na die kant van die lewe. ’n Verantwoordelike lewe, maar een op sy voorwaardes.

*

This is a typical punk novel, and the language is from the world of hard rock musicians and skateboarders. It is also a coming of age story in which the main character, Bastian, gets purged in the moshpit of Cape Town’s night life.

Bastian rebels against his parent’s wish for him to study law at the University of Stellenbosch, and he bolts to Cape Town. He gets a job in a skating shop in Long Street and joins an Afrikaans punk band. In true punk style even the name of this band is one of the novel’s many shock effects.

He still sometimes go skating at Artscape or somewhere in the industrial area of Woodstock, but his Cape existence is actually nothing more than a whirlpool of alcohol, drugs, sex, hard rock and even harder partying.

Just before he is swallowed and devoured completely, he sees the light and decides to return to his home in Kimberley. He is grateful to still be alive, but it is not as if the place he’s run away from has changed. It is still a sad middle class existence, and although his parents are glad to have him back, they still are as bourgeois as before. Is there a way out? Again Bastian dugs into his father’s liquor cabinet and that brings him to the edge of suicide. In the novel’s end he balances on the thin line between life and death … and then tumbles over to the side of life. A responsible life, but a life on his terms.

Sally-Ann PartridgeThe Goblet Club by SA Partridge

A Gothic novel in the tradition of the highly successful Harry Potter series, but with distinctly South African features. The Goblet Club is set in a mysterious boarding school somewhere on the South African platteland.

When Mark is sent to St Matthew’s College for Boys, it is one more punishment for years of bad behaviour. The school has a reputation for knocking boys like him into shape, run with an iron fist by the sinister headmaster, Mr Crabtree. As soon as he arrives, Mark enters a sinister world of questions: what is Mr Crabtree’s secret, and why does he have a miserable sixteen-year-old secretary? Are his new friends who they say are? Mark sets out to find answers, with his friends, Trent, Vlad and Francis. Together, they are the Goblet Club, dedicated to the study of poisons. They begin to use their potions to rid the school of a plague of rats, but as Mark is drawn deeper in, their thoughts turn to murder…

Marion ErskineOos by Marion Erskine

Dit is die bittersoet verhaal oor die ervaringe van ’n groep Suid-Afrikaners wat tydelik in Taiwan werk. Dit is ’n eksotiese verhaal, nie net as gevolg van die ruimte waarin dit afspeel nie, maar ook op grond van die ekstreme van uitbundige sentiment en die donker ondertone daarvan – dit s ’n oorvloedige ruiker van kleur en intrige.

Die verteller, Louis, kom in Taiwan aan om vir laerskoolleerlinge Engels te gee. Sy enigste kontak in hierdie wildvreemde land is ’n internet-vriend wat hom bekend gestel het aan die moontlikheid om in Taiwan Engels te gee. Deur hierdie kontak kom hy in aanraking mat ’n klomp jong Suid-Afrikaners en hul Chinese vriende, en dit is hoe hy bekend gestel word aan ’n absoluut vreemde kultuur en gewoontes wat vir hom die raarste gewoontes is wat hy nog teëgekom het. Hierdie ryk en vermaaklike ontdekkings word egter onderlê deur ’n dieper en uiteindelik ook ’n donkerder soektog. Die groep vriende moet ’n greep op eie identiteit kry, asook op die skimme wat by hulle sal bly spook so lank as wat hulle van die een tydelike werk in ’n wildvreemde land na die ander weghardloop. En niks benadruk dit sterker nie as die blootstelling aan van Taiwan se donkerder werklikhede – die voortdurende bedreiging van ’n aanval deur China en die sluimerende gevaar van ’n aardbewing. Die verhaal word egter nooit somber nie. Dit is ook ’n tere liefdesverhaal, ’n verhaal oor vriendskap en lojaliteit. Dit is tot barstens toe vol uitbundige, jeugdige geskerts, en is ’n vreugdevolle viering van die lewe en sy ingewikkeldhede.

*

A bittersweet tale of a group of South African youngsters’ experiences while working temporarily in Taiwan. It is an exotic tale, not only in the setting but also in the extremes of vivacious sentiments and their dark undertones, a sumptuous bouquet of colour and intrigue.

The narrator, Louis, arrives in Taiwan to teach English to Chinese speaking kids. His only contact in this foreign country is an Internet friend who introduced him to the idea of teaching in Taiwan. Through this contact he meets a group of South African youngsters and their Chinese friends, and that is how he gets acquainted with a completely strange culture and what is to him the most outlandish customs. This rich and amusing discovery is, however, underpinned by a deeper and eventually also a darker exploration. The group of friends have to come to grips with their own identities, and the phantoms that would haunt them for as long as they keep running from the one temporary occupation in a foreign country to the other. And nothing emphasises this more clearly than the exposure to some of Taiwan’s starker realities – the continuous threat of an attack from the mainland and imminent danger of an earthquake. But the tale never gets gloomy. It is also a tender love story, and a tale of friendship and loyalty. It abounds with exuberant, youthful banter, and a joyous celebration of life and its intricacies.

Hemelhel by Martinus de Beer

Dit is ’n absoluut unieke weergawe van die tydperk wat ’n jong depressielyer in ’n Bloemfonteinse sorgeenheid vir depressiewes deurgebring het. Die verteller is ’n man in sy vroeë twintigs. Deel van sy probleem is ’n vernietigend-obsessiewe gay verhouding. Hy is ’n strawwe roker, gemaak hardekwas, maar eintlik oorsensitief, bang en bleeksielerig.

Die leser sien en ervaar die wêreld van hierdie kliniek deur die sintuie van hierdie jong man. Daar is dus geen “normale” afstand nie, geen kommentaar van buite nie – jy beleef alles op sy voorwaardes en met sy gemoedskommelings en met sy eienaardige grille. Op hierdie wyse is dit asof die leser die hele lewe, die kleinste onbenullighede, nuut ervaar. Daar gebeur nie die ekstremiteite van One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in hierdie storie nie, en die kliniek is allermins Valkenberg, maar die alledaagse gesofistikeerde roetine van so ’n sorgsentrum word op ’n vreemde manier net so gewigtig, juis omdat hierdie verteller nie probeer om snaaks of gewigtig te wees nie.

Dit is nie ’n somber boek nie. Uiteindelik is dit geweldig hartroerend, maar somber is dit nie. Op ’n baie sonderlinge manier is dit wel snaaks. Die manier waarop mede-pasiënte en personeellede uitgebeeld word, die manier waarop hierdie depressielyers reageer op hul omgewing, is werklik snaaks. En dit is deels snaaks omdat al die indrukke is lewensbelangrik is, selfs die pogings tot ’n soort lawwe weerbarstigheid. En dit is die krag van hierdie boek, dat dit die lewe uit die perspektief van die depressielyer vir jou nuut maak. Op so ’n wyse dat die leser, soos die verteller, swaar afskeid neem van die wêreld waar dit vir ’n wyle moontlik was om hemel en hel saam te verduur.

*

Hemelhel is an absolutely unique portrayal of the time a young sufferer of depression spent in care centre in Bloemfontein. The narrator is ’n man in his early twenties, and part of his problem is a destructively obsessive relationship. He is a heavy smoker, pretending to be brazen-faced but in reality over sensitive, afraid and nerdy.

The reader experiences the world of the clinic through his eyes. There is no “normal” distance, no external comment – the reader experiences everything on his terms en with his mood swings an with his peculiar whims. In this manner it is as if the whole world, the smallest insignificances, becomes brand new. This tale does not contain the extremes of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and the clinic at stake could not even remotely be compared to Valkenberg, but the daily sophisticated routines of such a care centre becomes in a strange way just as grave, exactly because this narrator does not try to be funny or austere.

But strangely it is not a gloomy book. In the end it is completely moving, but without being dark. The way it manages to be unintentionally funny saves it from gloom. The way fellow patients and personnel are portrayed, and the way the patients react to their surroundings and circumstances. The humour is partly based on the fact that all these interactions are for them all-important, even their attempts at a kind of silly crassness. And therein lies the power of this book, in the fact that it lets you explore life through the perspective of the depressive person, and in such a way that the reader eventually finds it very difficult to part with that world where, for a while, it was possible to bear heaven and hell simultaneously.

Vyf ses skerp mes by Brigette Labuschagne

Dié boek is ‘n tragiese liefdesverhaal wat in die sestigerjare, te midde van die gedwonge verskuiwings, in Distrik Ses afspeel. Die hoofkarakter, Abbi, is ‘n skrander meisie uit ‘n armoedige gesin. As jong kind raak Abbi bevriend met die seun van die predikant van die Morawiese kerk in Distrik Ses. Teen alle waarskynlikhede in ontwikkel die vriendskap in ‘n hegte band en word dit ook ‘n liefdesverhouding. Die verhouding word beleef deur die naïewe perspektief van ‘n jong, dromerige meisie. Abbi het aanvanklik geen begrip daarvoor dat haar verhouding met die wit seun ongewoon en selfs ongewens is. Veral die seun se ma, die snobistiese en kil Mrs Black, se houding kan sy nie verstaan nie, maar sy word teruggeruk na die werklikheid toe haar eie pa haar met sy gordel afransel omdat sy nie die “whitey” wil uitlos nie.

Intussen is haar broer se bitterheid besig om in ‘n soort selfvernietigende haat te ontwikkel. Sy verset teen maatskaplike verdrukking en sy tiener-rebelsheid laat hom by misdaad betrokke raak. En uiteindelik gebeur die haas onvermydelike. Deur slinkse manipulering word die wit seun in ‘n lokval gelei en vermoor.

Die jonge Abbi se wêreld stort in duie. Nie net as gevolg van die feit dat haar geliefde vermoor is nie, maar ook omdat haar broer op een of ander wyse aandadig was. Sy en haar gesin verloor ook nog die broer as hy weens die moord in hegtenis geneem word. Bowendien lyk dit asof die Black-gesin haar aanspreeklik hou.

Die verhaal word ook deels vertel uit die perspektief van ‘n veel ouer Abbi. Sy is nou ‘n gevestigde skrywer en kan met die afstand van jare, en die insig van terugskoue vertel wat die nagevolge van die moord was. Sy kan vertel hoe liefde uiteindelik tog geseëvier het en dat haar geliefde Benjamin selfs na sy dood die gom was wat breuke kon heel en mense bymekaar kon hou.

*

This is a tragic love-story set in the Sixties in District Six, amid the forced removals of that time. The main character, Abbi, is a gifted child from a poor family. As a young child she befriends the son of the minister of the Moravian church in District Six. Against all odds the friendship develops into a close connection an eventually also into love. This relationship is experienced through the naïve perspective of the young, dreamy girl. Initially Abbi shows now comprehension at all for the fact that her relationship with the white boy might be uncommon and even undesired. It is especially the cold-hearted attitude of the boy’s mother, the snobbish Mrs Black, she is unable to fathom. But she is brutally thrown back to reality when her own father gives her a flogging because of her contact with the “whitey”.

In the mean time her brother’s bitterness has grown into a self-destructing hatred. His opposition to social injustices and his teenage rebelliousness made him susceptible to the seductions of crime. And eventually the almost unavoidable happens: The boy gets lured deviously into an ambush end killed.

The young Abbi’s world collapsed. Not only because her beloved got murdered, but also because her brother is apparently culpable. She also loses a brother when he gets arrested for the murder, and then it also transpires that the Black family regards her as accountable.

The narration is partly done through the perspective of a much older Abbi. The older Abbi is an established author, and she is capable to reflect, with the wisdom of years, on the consequences of the murder. She is able to tell how love eventually triumphed, and that her beloved Benjamin became, even after his death, the adhesive capable of mending separations and bringing people together.