If I wake up at an early hour

What is your idea about the work of a writer? Not the product at the end of a long process, but his day to day work. Will the writer wake up early and sit at the desk, after a frugal breakfast? Will the writer reach his goal of two thousand words a day? Or 50 words? 

The Libya-born writer Hisham Matar talks in this article about his production. 

Illustration by Alan Vest

My camera is like

The writer Teju Cole is much than a writer, he is an art historian, he is a photographer. He cannot be boxed in. In this article he tells about his relationship with his camera. He has recently published a book of photographs. On his Instagram account we have been able to see his work with the camera. In his books the photographs are accompanied by stories, on of the is title Blind Spot. This is also the title of the collection. 

Teju Cole in his Brooklyn office.

One-textbook directive

The world of books is a lucrative world, to be more precise the world of educational books. When a writer and publisher get a certain book through the doors of the Education Building the orders will roll in. So to get your books into the classroom is very important. 

The Kenya Secretary of Education has given a strong opinion on the issue. Only one book per subject. How did the publishing world react? Read more about it here

Book publishing and distribution then became the domain of private sector players.

Angolan writer José Eduardo Agualusa

Librarians have decided to give a literary prize to a writer who now wants to us the money to build a library at one of the places he lives. The Angolan writer José Eduardo Agualusa has been awarded the International Dublin Literary Award. The money that travels with the Award is €100,000. This is a fair sum of money, even in Dublin. 

José has made known what he will do with this money. It will help build a library to help people to read and have access to books. He also plans to put his private library in this building. The place will at one of his abodes, this being at the Island of Mozambique.  Read more about it here

José Eduardo Agualusa.


He did it again!

Deon Meyer wrote another captivating book, shorter that his other works. Let me explain why this one is sooo much shorter. This book has been published as a give away during the weeks of thrillers The Netherlands. Every year there are some weeks with special attention to thrillers. One writer is asked to write a short book to give as a present, when you buy books for a certain minimum amount, during these weeks. I do not know if this book has been published in South Africa.

In this book we meet again Bennie Griessel. He and his companion Vaugh Cupido are called to investigate a dead body, a bleached body, that has been found by a travelling group of people.  When it is clear who is the body (Alicia Lewis, who works in the art world, to discover stolen or lost art), the journey start to find out when and how and why and by whom?

Sprinkled through the story are flashbacks to the Dutch painter Fabritius, a pupil of the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijn (1606 – 1669). This Fabritius is followed by some people and he tries to escape.

The connection between the past (in the Dutch Republic) and the present (in the Republic of South Africa) is a painting by this Fabritius. It seems this painting has travelled to South Africa, many years ago. Who can be the owner of this painting of the lady in the blue cloack?

Will this painting, if it exist in real life, be part of the Dutch heritage or the South African heritage? The search for the murderer of Alicia Lewis brings to the fore the importance of the painting and the importance of the Boer history, and therefor the South African history.

Will the murderer be found? Will the mystery be solved, the mystery of the Bleached Body and the mystery of the painting?

To me it would have been nice to read more about the search for the painting, tracing the journey from a possible arrival in the past on the shores of Africa to the present day. But a book like this one has its limits, due to the demands of the publisher.

But is an authentic Deon Meyer, with a twist in the tail.

Deon Meyer – Die vrou in die blou mantel – 2017 

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor die vrou in die blou mantel deon meyer

Down memory lane as Prof Magoha

One of the most enjoyable forms of literature, according to me, is the biography. I love to read a good, critical, comprehensive, biography. It shows a person in its context.

A new biography has been published. This time the subject is George Magoha. He has had a long career in the academic world. He has been the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nairobi.

Read more about this publication here

George Magoha


It took some time for me to take this book from my shelf, and when I started reading this debut I kept on reading. Rachel Zadok has done a good job with this novel.

The story centers around a young girl named Faith, she lives on a farm with her father Marius and her mother Bella. Mother Bella has a perception of spirits (tokoloshe) that dwell around the farm, she even has tried to paint them. These painting occupy walls at the farm. The family slowly but surely desintegrates and father Marius decides to leave his wife and child. When Bella is left to fight her fight on her own it becomes clear she is not able to look after herself and her child. Wellwishers (including Oom Piet) make sure a lady called Nomsa takes over the work at the farm and the care of Faith. A special relationship develops between the two.  An outsider is able to do the work that the insiders are not able to do. Nomsa is a powerful woman who has to find her way in a house filled with antagonizing forces. But she shows herself able for the job. This first part of the book ends with the violent death of Nomsa. This part of the novel started in the year 1985.

In the second part we move to the year 1999 and Johannesburg. Faith had to leave the farm after the death of Nomsa and the move of her mother Bella to a psychiatric hospital where she is treated. Faith now stays with a old friend to her mother, named Mia, and the daughter of Mia. Now the story develops with speed. Faith receives the news that her mother has passed away. She gets the ownership of the farm, where managers have taken care (in their own way) of the farm. Faith takes the decision to return to the farm to have a look at her property or will she stay to run her farm? Will she get a fuller picture of her past when she returns to her roots?

Faith tries to get to grip with her life and her surroundings. When she was a young girl at the farm with her desintegrating family and at a later age to settle as a woman in her own right. Zadok follows these traces in the life of faith, the attempts to take the proper course in her life, while being true to her self an d her father and her father, and Nomsa, the lady who was murdered by ..

Thanks Rachel Zadok for your debut. 

Rachel Zadok – Gem Squash Tokoloshe – 2005

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor rachel zadok gem squash tokoloshe