We are in the fourth month of lockdown, and the book trade is struggling both here in South Africa and internationally. Please keep on reading and buying books, to keep our vibrant book culture alive. You could review local books (especially) and Modjaji titles (even more so) on Goodreads. Thank you for being loyal Modjaji friends over the years.
New website incoming!
We’re excited to announce that our new website will be launching in August. We can’t wait to show you our updated look! Until then, our newsletter links will send you to African Books Collective for our international readers. Local readers can get our books from Loot, any good bookstore, or ask your local bookstore to order Modjaji titles if they’re not in stock!
my mother, my madness
Colleen, our founder, has a new book out, and Deep South, her publisher, hosted a very successful online launch on Friday 3 July. Over 60 people tuned in to hear Colleen talk to Arja Salafranca about the memoir, which documents caring for a difficult mother in the last years of her life.
If you missed the launch and would like to watch it, a recording is available online here.
The Only Magic We Know
This collection of Modjaji poets’ work is creating quite a buzz! Read an extract as published in the Daily Vox here.
Africa in Words has a fantastic review of the anthology – here’s what Susanna Sacks had to say:
“The Only Magic We Know embraces poetry’s expansiveness through its selections… It builds on Modjaji’s work to accentuate poetry’s hybrid capacities. Texts include familiar contemporary forms like the prose poem and the confessional, and novel, serial poems that play with dictionary forms, litany, and multimedia content. Despite these varied forms, the poems are drawn together in common themes which emerge across four sections which trace themes of embodiment, life, collectivity, and craft… The poets’ voices weave together, creating a choral sensibility that highlights what is shared between individual experiences in a diverse literary community.”
Read the full review here.
Buy the anthology here.
WILL, the Passenger Delaying Flight…
Barbara Adair recently appeared on SABC’s Morning News to talk about her latest novel, WILL, the Passenger Delaying Flight… Have a listen to the interview here to learn more about this rollercoaster of a book, which details 24 hours spent in Charles de Gaulle Airport.
The novel continues to rake in positive reviews. Here’s Puleng Hopper’s take on it:
“a literary experiment that is unique in structure and presentation. The thought provoking, graphic, witty, and shocking is related in a nonchalant fashion that includes a skilful play of words.”
The Sunday Times also gave WILL five stars, calling it “a captivating journey in this quirky, wonderful read” (Tiah Beautement). Read the full review here.
You can buy the book here.
Outside the Lines
Published in the USA by Catalyst Press, this title, first published by Modjaji, is going from strength to strength.
Ms Magazine had this to say: “There’s been an encouraging increase of diverse voices in South African literature of late, and Ameera Patel’s debut contributes to this exciting new movement. In her dramatic, drug-addled thriller, Patel explores criminality, excess, humanity and hope.”
Shelf Awareness said “this dysfunctional family drama has unexpected moments of dark comedy to disrupt the unfolding, inevitable tragedy. While exposing the multilayered inequities of the haves vs. have-nots, Patel slyly ridicules white privilege, religious hypocrisy, clueless parenting, casual racism, ineffective rules and breakable laws. In clipped, often unadorned sentences, Patel skillfully presents a raw narrative of careless disconnections and scathing verity.”
You can buy the book here.
This, an anthology which celebrates Modjaji short stories, has also been widely praised. Africa in Words (in their recent series on Modjaji Books) said “Fool’s Gold draws together works from each of the dozen collections and anthologies of short stories that Modjaji has published. In doing so, the collection highlights the power of the form: what editor Arja Salafranca describes as “both paragraph and love affair, […] these varied pieces hold up a mirror to our lives and the places we live in”. Distinguished by their diverse themes, structures, and voices, the short stories of Fool’s Gold are bound together by their concern for women’s experiences. They take pleasure in the small moments that magnify the spectacular, drawing light to life’s neglected corners.”
The Sunday Times gave Fool’s Gold five stars! Gabriella Bekes wrote “While some are harrowing, every story is wonderful.”
You can buy the anthology here.
Where are they now?
Modjaji has had the privilege of working with many wonderful young women over the years as interns. Nyana Kakoma, a Ugandan writer and founder of Sooo Many Stories, counts among them. Here’s her reflection on the beginning of her internship.
Keep warm and safe until next time.