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Archive for January, 2018

Exclusive: Sally Partridge discusses her highly-anticipated fifth novel, antiheroes, female empowerment and the secret to writing authentic teenage characters

By Mila de Villiers

Sally Partridge, author of Mine. © Warren Rasmussen

 
The highly-anticipated fifth novel by award-winning local young adult author, Sally Partridge, is scheduled to hit shelves just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Mine is the roller coaster love story of Finley September and Kayla Murphy, two teenagers trying to make sense of their lives in the mother city. In each other they find that all-for-nothing love they’ve been searching for – but also a sense of belonging. Until the ghosts from their past emerge to try and break them apart.

Cape Town novelist Sally Partridge is a three-time winner of the M. E. R. Prize for Best Youth Novel and has been honoured by IBBY International for her young adult fiction. In 2011, she was named one of Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans, awarded annually to notable South Africans under the age of 35.

Mine is Partridge’s fifth novel for young adults.

The whimsical illustrated cover is reminiscent of international contemporary YA titles by authors like Rainbow Rowell and Nina LaCour and was designed by Cape Town-based illustrator Astrid Blumer.

Not only does Blumer’s illustration succeed in bringing Fin and Kayla to life, but also cleverly highlights the comic book and music references featured throughout the contemporary novel.

Mine
will be available from all major retailers from 10 February 2018.

Here Partridge discusses female empowerment, why music and writing go hand in hand, the challenges she faced with writing a love story (it has to have some love in it!) and how she succeeds in creating authentic teenage characters:

In your acknowledgements you mention that the idea for the story first came to you when you had a scene in your head of a “girl with blue hair barreling down Buitenkant Street on her skateboard”, envisioning it as a teen superhero novel. Why did you abandon the superhero angle, turning it into a “crazy love story”?

The superhero angle relied heavily on a pair of siblings being central to the plot. I outlined the plot to a writer friend, who felt that siblings weren’t the right fit for the story, especially if it was going to be a series. It needed a love interest. This made total sense. And then the more I wrote, the more it became clear that this had to be a love story and not a superhero story at all. All the drama surrounding relationships completely took over. The book was always going to be about that original blue-haired girl feeling disempowered and finding her confidence. Only now it was more real. Her disempowerment came from being the outsider at a new school, where her desperate need for acceptance becomes a vulnerability the boys in her year are only too eager to take advantage of. Kayla finds her power, but it’s a power we all have to discover at some point, when the rose-tinted glasses we wear shatter after wave after wave of disappointment.

Although it isn’t a superhero novel, elements of the superhero genre are present: Kayla is a big fan of comic books and Fin is a Norse mythology aficionado. These interests aren’t exactly accepted/understood among their peers (people find it unusual that Kayla – as a teenage girl – is into comics and not many of Fin’s friends have heard of Thor the Norse God as opposed to Thor “the Avengers dude with a hammer”.) Could you expand on their predilection for these mythical/conceived gods/heroes, and – in doing so – how they defy stereotypes?

I love writing about antiheroes. Whether they’re geeks, goths or teens looking for trouble. Anyone who’s been to FanCon (run by Reader’s Den) will realise quite quickly that comics aren’t just for guys. Both DC and Marvel are writing incredible titles with all-female casts, and even local authors like Lauren Beukes, are writing comics. Saying comics aren’t for girls is like saying books aren’t for girls. It’s silly. Kayla is your average pop-culture fan – she loves Rick and Morty and comics and wears her geeky predilections like an armour – which reflects in her sense of humour. As for Fin, many people find strength in their spirituality, and he draws his courage from the strong gods in Norse mythology. He crafts a stage persona after Thor, the god of Thunder – and by slipping into this persona he’s able to do things he normally wouldn’t be comfortable doing – like going on stage in front of thousands of people.

Music features prominently in your novel (Kayla is a classical flautist and operaphile, whereas Fin is a member of a rap band.) What does music a) mean to you? and b) to Kayla and Fin? Do you listen to similar genres as the protagonists? And what’s it like writing rap lyrics? 

Music is central to my creativity. It sets the mood, keeps me going. So really, writing and music go hand in hand.

As for Kayla being an operaphile. You’re supposed to write what you know, right? My friend Karina invited me to go see a screening of Bluebeard’s Castle at Cinema Nouveau. It was a double bill with Iolanta that was being broadcast live from The Met. I was completely blown away. She’s always inviting me to these wildly cultural evenings, like the time we went to see a classical ensemble at The Alma Café, which was the night I knew I needed to include a cellist in the story. It wasn’t Kayla. I knew that much. Then she took me to a classical recital at Bishops, and when I saw the flautist perform, I knew that was the instrument Kayla needed to play. Another dear friend is a woodwind expert, so I had all this exposure to classical instruments around me that I drew inspiration from. Music is a key theme in this book. It’s Fin’s life, the only thing he knows. It’s what pulls him and Kayla closer. To get into their heads I listened to a wide range of music, from the moody hypnotic instrumentals of Jozef van Wissem and older bands like Led Zeppelin and Violent Femmes to contemporary glitch, dub and hip-hop artists, like PHFat, Dookoom and Skrillex for example.

Writing lyrics wasn’t too much of a stretch.

(This one is applicable to Astrid as well!) The cover is reminiscent of Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park; can you elaborate on the decision-making process whilst conceiving the cover? How did you decide on the style of the cover and final imagery? How many versions were created before you chose this specific one?

I had nothing to do with the cover. My publisher knew from the beginning that she wanted to use Astrid. At our first meeting she pulled out this gorgeous page of illustrations and I was like, “Yeah, let’s do it.” It was a wonderful surprise to see the final product. I think it ties in beautifully with the story and captures that precious love that Kayla and Fin feel for each other.

This is your first novel focused solely on a relationship. What was the most challenging aspect writing about two teens in love? What did you enjoy the most?

The challenge for me was introducing more light into the story. I have a strong penchant for darkness and sometimes I can get carried away. I had to remind myself that love stories need to have some love in them! This was especially true with Kayla’s character. She needed to be as likeable as Fin, but she’s just so tragically damaged. I felt it was important to not shy away from the reality of what teenage girls have to go through. We have to talk about these things and not just conveniently forget the minefield of peer pressure and double standards we all had to endure in high school.

As with your previous novels, you’ve created honest, relatable teenage protagonists. As someone who no longer is an adolescent (and in no way am I excluding myself here!), how do you manage to write such convincing characters? (You nailed it – from their vocabulary, dress sense, penchant for social media, jol-ing habits and hobbies/interests.)

I guess I’ve just never bothered to grow up. I don’t have kids or a white picket fence. What I do have is hundreds of comic books, Funko Pops, young adult novels, LEGO minifgures and tattoos. And I still go jol-ing regularly.

 To what extent can you relate to Kayla – the troubled, alternative, promiscuous (for lack of a better word…) skatergirl from the ‘burbs, and Fin – the equally troubled daggakop from Lansdowne, subjected to domestic violence, and repeating matric for the second time?

I think I can relate to both of them. I grew up in Lansdowne before my parents moved us into my grandmother’s house in the suburbs. I was that girl that changed schools late in the year and had to put up with relentless bullying while I tried (and failed) to fit in. I ended up amongst the alternative kids and there I stayed. I don’t like to think of Kayla as promiscuous. That’s the total wrong perception. The choices she makes are important because it’s a behaviour she believes will solve her problems – if she responds to boys’ advances she’ll be liked, she’ll get a boyfriend and earn the respect of the girls at school. If she doesn’t respond to their advances, they’ll ignore her and move on and she’ll be alone again. This is important because it’s the type of topic we’re only starting to explore now that #MeToo is gaining momentum. Girls often find themselves in situations where they say ‘yes’ when they should be saying ‘no’ because they confuse persuasion and pressure with affection, or they think the repercussions will be different. We’re letting girls down by not talking about it.

And finally – the title: why Mine?

The phrase, Mine all mine, sums up this book nicely. I thought an abridged version, Mine, could achieve the same thing in a much more direct, punchy way. The book is about crazy, obsessive love, people damaged by love and yet still wanting to fall desperately, headfirst into love all over again. There could be no other title for this book.

***

Mine

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Listen: Thuli Nhlapo discusses Colour Me Yellow with Sarah-Jayne King

‘I hated being pregnant with you. I used to cry the whole day. I hated carrying you in my stomach.’

 
Thuli Nhlapo grew up constantly hearing these words from her mother. She was seven years old when she realised that no one called her by name. Known as “Yellow”, she was bullied at home and at school. Fearing that she had a terrible disease, she withdrew into herself.

Years later, Thuli is still haunted by her childhood experiences. She confronts her mother about her real father and real surname. Getting no answers, Thuli embarks on years of searching for the truth.

In the process, she uncovers unsettling family secrets that irrevocably change all their lives.

“Whilst exposing and exploding the impact of family secrets on people’s sense of identity and well-being, it is also a celebration of one woman’s determination to live her life to the fullest.” - Mmatshilo Motsei

Thuli Nhlapo is the Managing Director of her own media company, Thuli Nhlapo Media. She has previously worked for ABC News (USA), Daily Sun and SABC News as reporter and/or producer. She has also written for The Sowetan, Mail & Guardian and The Star. Nhlapo works as a communication strategist and content producer and is based in Gauteng.

Thuli recently was a guest on radio host and author Sarah-Jayne King’s Cape Talk Book Club program. Here they discuss Colour Me Yellow, identity, and Thuli’s family response to the book:

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Antjie Krog ontvang Nederlandse prys vir haar bydrae tot Nederlandse kultuur

Human & Rousseau en NB-Uitgewers is verheug om te verneem dat Antjie Krog die pas afgelope naweek vereer is met die 2018 Gouden Ganzenveer.

De Gouden Ganzenveer is ’n kulturele prys wat jaarliks in Nederland toegeken word aan ’n persoon of instituut ter verering van hul bydrae tot die geskrewe en gedrukte woord in die Nederlandse taal. Dié prys word vanjaar vir die eerste keer aan iemand van buite Nederland en België toegeken. In 2017 is dit toegeken aan die bekroonde romansier Arnon Grunberg.

Gerdi Verbeet, voorsitter van die Akademie van die Gouden Ganzenveer, het die nuus op die Nederlandse radioprogram De Taalstaat bekendgemaak: “Die Akademie van die Gouden Ganzenveer eer Krog as ’n spesiale en veelsydige digter, as ’n uitsonderlike skrywer en joernalis van integriteit, en as ’n begaafde kunstenaar van haar eie werk.”

Eloise Wessels, besturende direkteur van Media24-Boeke en hoof van NB-Uitgewers, het die nuus verwelkom. “Dit is vir ons as Krog se uitgewer eweneens wonderlike nuus – ons is saam met haar trots en bly.”

Joost Nijsen, Krog se Nederlandse uitgewer by Podium, meen dat die entoesiasme vir haar werk bogemiddeld groot moet wees vir die Akademie om ’n uitsondering te maak vir ’n “buitelandse” outeur. “Ons het hier by Podium op die tafel gespring toe ons dit gehoor het. Nie alleen is die Gouden Ganzenveer waarskynlik die mees gesogte literêre prys in Nederland nie, maar dit is bowendien uniek dat die prys toegeken word aan ’n nie-Nederlandse skrywer.”

De Gouden Ganzenveer sal op 19 April tydens ’n geleentheid in Amsterdam aan Krog oorhandig word. “Ek is verbysterd en op ’n vreemde manier tog ook ontroerd,” het sy gesê in reaksie op die nuus. “Dit is ook uitermate heerlik dat ‘n taal en letterkunde deur wie mens self so veel en diep verryk is, voel dat daar nie net gevat is nie, maar ook iets van waarde terug gegee is.”

Krog se jongste publikasies sluit in:
Lady Anne: A Chronicle in Verse (2017, Human & Rousseau), ’n vertaling van die oorspronklike uitgawe van Lady Anne in 1989
Mede-wete (2014, Human & Rousseau), asook die vertaling Synapse, deur Karen Press

Mede-wete is o.m. bekroon met die Elisabeth Eybers-prys (2015), die ATKV-Woordveertjieprys vir poësie (2015) en ook die Hertzog-prys vir poësie (2017). Medeweten is in Nederlands uitgegee deur Podium, en Remo Campert sê o.m. in de Volkskrant die volgende: “Lees de hele bundel Medeweten. Dan zult u het hopelijk met me eens zijn dat Antjie Krog Nobelprijs-waardig is.”

Luister na die aankondiging.

Lady Anne

Boekbesonderhede

 
 

Mede-wete


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(Stranger than) Fiction Friday: an excerpt from John Maytham’s Rapid Fire

What is the origin of the word ‘bluetooth’? How do you have sex in space? Which UK football ground is surrounded by Bloemfontein and South Africa roads? When walking round Rondebosch Common, why is it wise not to go widdershins?

These are just a few of the questions put to the formidable John Maytham by 567 CapeTalk listeners to test his remarkable general knowledge in the ever popular Rapid Fire insert on the afternoon drive-time show. Now, join the veteran broadcaster on a tour of some of the oddest, arcane and most surprising questions – and be tickled by the weird and wonderful answers.

“John Maytham may be the most erudite and interesting person on air, and if you read this book, a little John Maytham will rub off on you.” Darrel Bristow-Bovey
 
 
John Maytham is 567 CapeTalk radio station’s afternoon drive-time host. He is a trained actor who made the switch to radio more than 20 years ago, when he joined the news team at Capital Radio 604. He joined CapeTalk as news editor and breakfast host when it was started in 1997, and was the first person to speak on the station.

The following extract was originally published on Aerodrome:

Are there animals that can live without water?

The North American kangaroo rat is most often cited in internet discussions of this topic. These rats do need water to survive, but they have evolved such that it is possible for them to go through their entire life cycle, between three and five years, without ever drinking water. They collect seeds during moist conditions, and live off the nutrition and moisture stored in those seeds.

Then there is an extraordinary water-wise amphibian, the Australian water-holding frog. It stores water in pockets of skin all over its body, but holds most of it in the bladder. It is able to store double its body weight in water, and can live for up to five years without needing to take a drink. Local Aboriginals, if they’re thirsty while out in the bush, will try to catch one of these frogs and squeeze the water directly from the frog’s bladder into their mouths.

Why are weddings rings traditionally worn on the fourth finger of the left hand in many Western cultures?

This is based on a traditional (but incorrect) belief that there is a vein that runs directly from that finger to the heart. It was called the vena amoris, the “vein of love”.

What is the link between the musical works of Handel and Bach, and the one-rand coin?

The words Soli Deo Gloria (To God alone the glory) appear on the one-rand coin. Those same words are also part of the dedication of many works by the likes of Bach and Handel.

Can a vegan eat a fig?

Hmmm, lots of nuance in the answer! It depends – on the fig and on the vegan. Some figs, like the Smyrna, are pollinated in such a way that the female wasp dies inside the fig. The body will be dissolved by acid activity, but strictly speaking, there will be animal matter inside the fig. Some very strict vegans might see that as reason to avoid the fruit. Forgive me for being technical, but some fig species are parthenocarpic, which means they develop fruit-like structures that don’t require pollination. (Don’t worry, I don’t understand it either.) All vegans can eat these varieties with a clear conscience.

Bananas, on the other hand, are a different story. If they come from a field that has been sprayed with a pesticide like chitosan, then very strict vegans will look the other way because shrimp and crab shells are on chitosan’s list of ingredients. Did someone mention slippery slopes?

The first British astronomer at the Cape, Fearon Fallows, is buried in the grounds of the South African Astronomical Observatory in a suburb of Cape Town. His grave has one very unusual feature. What is it?

The grave is twelve feet deep. Fallows knew he was dying and, fearing that his burial site would be disturbed by grave robbers, he asked to be buried twelve feet down. As the observatory is on rocky ground, the digging must have been very hard work!

Continue reading here!

Rapid Fire

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Sally Partridge’s fifth novel to be published in February!


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The highly-anticipated fifth novel by award-winning local young adult author, Sally Partridge, is scheduled to hit shelves just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Mine is the roller coaster love story of Finley September and Kayla Murphy, two teenagers trying to make sense of their lives in the mother city. In each other they find that all-for-nothing love they’ve been searching for – but also a sense of belonging. Until the ghosts from their past emerge to try and break them apart.

Cape Town novelist Sally Partridge is a three-time winner of the M. E. R. Prize for Best Youth Novel and has been honoured by IBBY International for her young adult fiction. In 2011, she was named one of Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans, awarded annually to notable South Africans under the age of 35.

Mine is Partridge’s fifth novel for young adults.

The whimsical illustrated cover is reminiscent of international contemporary YA titles by authors like Rainbow Rowell and Nina LaCour and was designed by Cape Town-based illustrator Astrid Blumer.

Not only does Blumer’s illustration succeed in bringing Fin and Kayla to life, but also cleverly highlights the comic book and music references featured throughout the contemporary novel.

Mine will be available from all major retailers from 10 February 2018.

Praise for Sally Partridge:

Partridge gets into her young characters’ heads and makes them three dimensional. – City Press

In her latest novel, Partridge delivers her signature brand of hard-hitting young adult fiction. – Cape Times

Partridge is a master at exploring the nuances of emotionally awkward teens, through fast-paced dialogue and detailed (but not overwrought) description. – Sunday Times

She has a keen insight into the psyche of teens and especially has a knack for creating damaged and broken characters. – Women24


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South African winners announced for International Gourmand Awards

The Gourmand World Cookbook Awards recently announced the winners of the South African titles that will compete to be crowned as The Best in the World, and the following local titles from NB Publishers made the cut!

Health and Nutrition:

Food for Sensitive Tummies (Tafelberg) by Gabi Steenkamp and Cath Day

Food Writing:

foodSTUFF (Human & Rousseau) by Tony Jackman

Diet:

Delicious Low Carb (Human & Rousseau) by Sally-Ann Creed

Barbeque:

Shisanyama (Human & Rousseau) by Jan Braai

Pastry:

The South African Milk Tart Collection (Human & Rousseau) by Callie Maritz and Mari-Louis Guy

Latin American:

A Bite of Latin America (Human & Rousseau) by Susie Chatz-Anderson

Best Book of the Year in all categories:

Curry (Human & Rousseau) by Ishay Govender-Ypma

International, as well as Breakfast:

Brunch Across 11 Countries (Human & Rousseau) by Alix Verrips
 

The winner will be announced on 26 and 27 May 2018 at an award ceremony in China.

 

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