Blog

Hester van der Walt shares writing advice at Cape Town launch of Se my is julle twee susters?

Poet Sindiswa Busuku-Mathese [right] and friend, Chantelle Croeser, pose happily with their new signed copy of the book

Hester van der Walt’s second book, Sê my, is julle twee susters, “a story of friendship between two women that, against all odds, turned into a lifelong relationship”, launched yesterday at The Book Lounge in Cape Town.

Hester traveled all the way from her home in McGregor – where her first book, Hester’s se Brood, is set – to attend the launch, where she was in conversation with Marian Jacobs, a friend, old colleague, and academic paediatrician.

“I thought only very important people earned the right to write their life story,” Hester admitted. “But I realised that we as older South Africans have lived through a very interesting period in our history, that the younger generation has no idea about. So I decided, let me just try. Let me just do it.”

Yes, it was daunting. But writing memoir lead Hester to “look with fresh eyes at my childhood and my parents and my schooling”. She suggest that “if you’re trying to write memoir, try to join a small writing group or get a writing buddy. The biggest problem in any kind of writing is the inner critic. Having other writers around you can help quiet that.”

When the floor opened for questions, everyone wanted to know, when can we expect an English translation?

Modjaji books would love to release an English edition of the book, and we encourage those who’d also like to see it happen to consider donating, to help pay a good translator who will handle the book with the tenderness and understanding that it deserves. Please contact us at info[at]modjajibooks.co.za if you’d like to be involved in the donation.

Hester van der Walt reads from the book

(That being said, Hester has shared that “English speakers who haven’t read Afrikaans since school days tell me it is very accessible and they couldn’t put it down”. We urge you to try reading the Afrikaans version, and experience engaging with the story in it’s original language.)

The launch ended with Marian Jacobs sharing this beautiful quote from Usula le Guin:

“The daily routine of most adults is so heavy and artificial that we are closed off to much of the world. We have to do this in order to get our work done. I think one purpose of art is to get us out of those routines. When we hear music or poetry or stories, the world opens up again. We’re drawn in — or out — and the windows of our perception are cleansed, as William Blake said.”

Sê my, is julle twee susters is one of those beautiful books that truly opens the world up again for its readers, and we’re thrilled to have put it out into the world.