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Victor Dlamini

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Archive for the ‘Fiction’ Category

Podcast with a Renaissance African, Emmanuel Dongala

Emmanuel DongalaJohnny Mad DogEmmanuel Dongala says that both science and art would not be possible without imagination, and it is his own immense powers of imagination that allow him to work as both a chemist and a novelist. Join me on The Victor Dlamini Literary Podcast as I chat to Dongala, one of Africa’s most charming and inventive authors, about his writing, about “juggling” his twin careers and about the effect that emigration has had on his work – and his memory of his home languages and cultures.

Emmanuel has fascinating views on culture, which derive from his experiences of growing up with parents from two vastly different worlds. His mother’s world view from the Central African Republic, and his father’s from Congo – Brazzaville, promoted in their son the view that culture can never be seen as hard and fast – a mindset that has doubtless helped him adapt to a large range of life situations.

Exile is often portrayed as a terrible dislocation, one that stifles the creative process, but Emmanuel talks about how he has been able to keep alive his sense of home, and how being away from home may actually magnify his perceptions, and enrich the lives of the characters he invents.
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Podcast: Conversation from the Country of the Heart with Breyten Breytenbach

A Veil of FootstepsBreyten BreytenbachIn our age of consumerism, when even ideas must be stripped of their complexity and delivered ready to serve, there is something to be said for those who are still prepared to speak in riddles, who still think that ambiguity adds to the joy of language and that narratives are far more open than is often reflected by those who insist on closure.

Any careful reading of Breyten Breytenbach‘s A Veil of Footsteps (Memoir of a nomadic fictional character) reveals a writer deeply aware of the demands of convention – the convention of the memoir, of the convention of the “observer” – and it is the risks Breyten is prepared to take in resisting, even frustrating these demands that bear the most fruitful rewards.
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Podcast with a Giant, Lewis Nkosi

Lewis NkosiMandela's EgoIt is one of the rarest but most real pleasures of our time to cast aside the daily rush and instead engage in slow, deep conversation with those amongst us who are wise beyond the saying.

Recently, I sat down to chat to Lewis Nkosi about his writing and his views on truth, narrative and many of the issues that have engaged his searching mind over a long and distinguished literary career. As we spoke at his favourite guest house in Melville, Johannesburg, it occurred to me that my reflections on his novel, Mandela’s Ego, when it first came out, still represent my thoughts on how important this work of fiction is amongst the most recent additions to our literary pantheon.
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Podcast with the Young, Confident, Angry Kgebetli Moele

Room 207Kgebetli Moele“You never know in Johannesburg, but, I tell you, walk carefully and think fast; this is Johannesburg, you are either fast or dead. Well, I am a man and so I tried to fight them: my second mistake.” These are the words of the narrator of Kgebetli Moele’s debut novel, Room 207, which is set in Johannesburg’s Hillbrow, an area that is known as much for its hard living as for its high rise buildings.

Hillbrow’s skyscrapers dominate Johannesburg’s skyline, and many of these buildings are grotesquely ugly – but others are not just exquisitely beautiful, they are architectural masterpieces and have been declared heritage sites. It is a part of Johannesburg that stirs the passions, with those who imagine it as a place of Romance high and low equal in number to those who see in it only the city of Johannesburg at its seediest and most Gothic.

It is to this place of contradiction and hidden jewels that young Moele has located so much of what goes on in his book, which is as much about the brooding, overcrowded room of the title itself as it is about the six people who inhabit it. It has been fascinating to observe the heated reaction to Kgebetli’s novel – which has won major prizes, and attracted more than its share of controversy and criticism – and I’m pleased to invite you to join me as I chat to the author right here on The Victor Dlamini Literary Podcast.
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Podcast: Don Mattera’s Living Memory

Azanian Love SongDon MatteraIf ever proof were needed that it is possible for one man to undergo a complete personal transformation, then Don Mattera, rise up. Today Don is renowned for his writings, his humanism, his powerful oratory, and his message of hope, but in his earlier years, Don was a feared gangster. After turning his back on that life, Don simultaneously turned his attention to poetry – and it was as a poet that he gained the kind of earth-shaking status that gang leaders crave.

For if once Don had been feared on the streets, he was to become even more feared as a writer and a political activist. Such fear did he inspire among the Apartheid rulers of South Africa, in fact, that they moved to silence him completely. He was banned for his activism, spending the years from 1973 to 1982 – three of them under house arrest – as a “Banned person”: no speaking, no meetings, no publications, no liberty.

Join me on The Victor Dlamini Literary Podcast as I chat to Don Mattera about his poetry, his deeply held beliefs, and about the twin transformations in his life – his own, and his country’s.
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Podcast with Napo Masheane, a Black Woman with a Voice

Napo MasheaneNapo Masheane has carved out a path all her own on the way to a career that brings together music, writing, poetry, spoken word performances, and other excursions into theatre and production.

Her unique poetic oeuvre is marked by a melding of the traditional poem/song forms of the BaSotho with the free-flowing beat of Hip Hop – and yet her work still pays homage to “conventional” verse. With the publication of Caves Speak in Metaphors – her first anthology of poetry and essays – Napo has brought the promise of her stage performances onto the page, and it says something of her powers as a writer that the poems can actually be read with as much pleasure and meaning as is conveyed when she performs them.

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Podcast: Fred Khumalo on Music, Writing and Miles

Fred Khumalo Touch My Blood “ ‘Anyway, why do you think you want to write? Other boys like you are playing soccer, chasing skirts and you are wasting your time copying dead white men. Where’s your sense of wonder, sense of excitement?’ ”

– Fred Khumalo in conversation with the poet Mafika Pascal Gwala, p.122, Touch My Blood

Join me on The Victor Dlamini Literary Podcast as I chat to Fred Khumalo about his writing – and his obsession with the music of Miles Dewey Davis, the colourful trumpeter who’s known simply as “Miles” to his devoted fans.

Fred’s career spans many fields, but in each he has made a name for himself, whether as a journalist, a columnist or a writer of fiction. Listen to Fred as he reveals the “creative push” that the music of Miles Davis and John Coltrane effects in his work.

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Podcast: Zukiswa Wanner on The Madams

Zukiswa Wanner Zukiswa WannerJoin me on The Victor Dlamini Literary Podcast as I chat to Zukiswa Wanner, author of the novel, The Madams, a book that has ventured into uncharted literary space by creating South Africa’s first Black “madam” and White “maid”. I caught up with Zukiswa at the Newtown Cultural Precinct in Johannesburg, and in this enjoyable conversation Zukiswa reveals much of what inspired her to write the novel.

Zukiswa’s is undoubtedly one of the boldest new voices to have arrived on the South Africa literary scene, choosing as her debut subject that most peculiar aspect of South Africa’s socio-cultural reality, the absence of white women as domestic servants – or “domestics”, or “maids”, as they are sometimes called. Zukiswa conjures up just such a figure – serving in a black household. This role-reversing manipulation of “that great South African bourgeois accessory”, the maid, allows one to reflect on the stubbornness of our social practices, and their ability to cut to the quick of our past.

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Victor Dlamini on SAfm: Meyer, Butcher, Moolman and More

As has been seen in many forums over the past year or so – inlcuding, now, BOOK SA itself, with its Crime Beat blog – crime writing is taking off in a big way in South Africa. It’s thus an especial pleasure for me to welcome perhaps our foremost crime writer on to SAfm Literature this week, Deon Meyer, whose Devil’s Peak has just been released. Tune in for a glimpse into the latest adventures of Thobela Mpayipheli, first made famous in Meyer’s The Heart of the Hunter.

I’m also due to chat with Telegraph journalist Tim Butcher, about his new book Blood River: A Journey to Africa’s Broken Heart. He previously worked for the paper as Africa Bureau Chief, but currently lives in Jerusalem where he is its Middle East correspondent. In 2000, Butcher had the idea of recreating Henry Morgan Stanley’s famous expedition down the Congo River – but alone – and made it. Adventure upon adventure on SAfm Literature!

More highlights:

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Victor Dlamini on SAfm: Nkosi, Matthews, Chimurenga, Clarke and More

Lewis Nkosi (ii)We are lucky to get a second bite at the poetry of James Matthews on SAfm Literature this week, after missing him on the show last month. His dissident voice has raged on for decades, and I look forward to discussing his collection, Cry Rage, and to learning more about his current publishing projects.

I’m also privileged to welcome novelist and essayist Lewis Nkosi into the studio for a half-hour chat; here is one of the pictures I was able to snap of the writer, who was shortlisted for this year’s Sunday Times Fiction Prize for Mandela’s Ego, at the Cape Town Book Fair.

Further highlights:

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