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Victor Dlamini

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Podcast with a Wandering South African: Christopher Hope

The Garden of Bad DreamsChristopher HopeChristopher Hope has brightened the global literary firmament for decades. This prolific author (increasingly venerable, to his great unease) has created a unique brand of fiction that draws on his formative years in South Africa but that travels almost as widely as he does – wider even. He belongs to that elect group of writers who become citizens of the world, and whose travels yield to literary necessity.

Join me on The Victor Dlamini Literary Podcast as I chat to Christopher about his fiction – especially his latest works, the novel My Mother’s Lovers and his collection of short stories, The Garden of Bad Dreams – as well as about his involvement in the Franschhoek Literary Festival.

I recorded the interview in Franschhoek, during the second FLF (of which Christopher is Director), and during our conversation it became clear why he has stayed unwaveringly at the top of his game in the world of books. He speaks with warmth and charm: not at all softly, as the adage goes, yet one never fails to sense the “big stick” of his intellectual firepower informing every word.
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Podcast with Virtuoso African Storyteller Mbulelo Mzamane

Mbulelo MzamaneMbulelo Vizikhungo Mzamane is at heart a storyteller: he has the ability to plunge straight into the belly of a narrative and bring forth its gentle resonances. It so happens that Mbulelo is also one of the finest literary historians of our time, and even though he often warns against what he calls the “abuse of theory” he clearly knows his way around this increasingly arcane terrain.

Join me on The Victor Dlamini Literary Podcast as Mbulelo shares some of his most riveting messages regarding the “state of the arts and society” – for his interests spill over from literary history to the wider contemporary issues that contain it. He has made his mark in fiction, theory, academic writing, teaching and literary activism, and is well-known, among other things, for being one of the brave souls who dared challenge the literary “canon” in the mid-seventies and insist on a new study called African Literature. He delivers unforgettable speeches at conferences, insisting on the primacy of storytelling even within the context of the most advanced literary considerations.
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Podcast with the Authentic Kopano Matlwa

CoconutKopano Matlwa in Radiant Mood“We can remain who we are and still be successful in the world,” says Kopano Matlwa, a young writer who brooks no compunction when it comes to exploring some of the sensitive issues, like “authentic identity” , that baffle young and old throughout the world, but especially in a rapidly changing South Africa.

Kopano’s novel, Coconut, takes for its title one of the most common epithets directed at those who are seen to abandon their “blackness”, merely looking “black” on the outside whilst adhering to “white” norms, ideals, politics and ambitions on the inside. The book may portray the lives of teenagers – affluent and otherwise – grappling to make sense of the world, but it is clear that it is the parents who have bequeathed them this wildly confusing environment, in which words like “coconut” operate, and that adults are often absent accomplices in the ensuing confusion.

Join me on the Victor Dlamini Literary Podcast as I chat to Kopano about her book, and her ability to juggle two worlds, writing and medicine, at such a tender age.

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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: Zubeida Jaffer Talks About Her Generation

Our GenerationZubeida JafferZubeida Jaffer is one of South Africa’s most travelled journalists: she has not only travelled the country top to bottom, covering the stories that chronicle South Africa’s transformation from a despotic minority regime to a democracy, but she has an incurable weakness for travel across the globe, and is often found away from home.

Join me on The Victor Dlamini Literary Podcast as I chat to Zubeida about her life as a journalist, and about the process of writing Our Generation, her personal life story, which is seamlessly woven together with the story of the struggle.
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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 Wordsmith Phillippa Yaa de Villiers

Taller than BuildingsPhillippa Yaa de VilliersA sense of wonder and a palpable exultation at the beauty and potency of language runs through so much of Phillippa Yaa de Villiers’ poetry that it is impossible to read it without feeling that the vault of language is fully open to her, like a treasure trove glittering in the dark. But in her hands words are often picked clean of easy artifice, and so much of the meaning and power of what she writes is subtle sheen, not just sparkle.

Join me on The Victor Dlamini Literary Podcast as Phillippa shares the source of her most urgent messages – which she expresses across a wide variety of genres. She writes poetry; writes for the theatre and television (including Takalani Sesame and Soul City); writes for industrial theatre productions; and she has also found the time to write for magazines. Recently, she collaborated with Pule Hlatshwayo and Swedish writer Charlotte Lesche to create Score, a three- hour miniseries for Swedish Broadcasting and SABC 1.
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