Unlike human and animal babies, the moment of birth for a publishing company is less easy to pin down. Modjaji was born in 2007, but was it April when the name arrived? And the bank account opened? Or was it when we launched the first book, Megan Hall’s Fourth Child? April 2007 seems like a good month to choose. World Book Day is on the 23rd of April, and when I worked at the Centre for the Book we tried to make it a big deal. (We favoured the UNESCO date rather than the UK date which is March.) In addition, Ben Williams started the SA literary and book platform Book.co.za which later became BooksLive.
To celebrate our birthday we’ve decided to do some things in April and during the year. First up is to look back at some of the books we’ve published, especially those that lived on beyond the initial attention that a newly fledged book gets. We will have giveaways on our social media platforms, so if you want to be in line for the giveaways, keep an eye on our social media. All books bought from our website in April have a 15% discount and free shipping, if you buy over R300 worth of books. When you check out use the code: HBD15 to activate the special offer.
To read some of Megan Hall’s poems, you can click this link to Poetry International.
In early 2008 we published Life in Translation by Azila Reisenberger. Here’s a poem from that collection.
Years ago I saw my late mother
rising out of the bath tub;
her soft arms holding fast
assisting her veined legs
to rise out of the water.
she caught my gaze
resting on her sagging breasts
and her limp bell
and she said:
“That was your home, you know”
lowering her eyes in embarrassment.
Now it is I who climb out the bath-water,
insulted by the stare of
the modern big mirror.
I dab my doughy stomach.
And already my daughter’s smooth belly
stretches to house the next generation.
And then in June 2008, Modjaji published Whiplash by Tracey Farren. A simple sentence like that carries so much weight for me. I will write a longer post about Whiplash soon. Here’s a review by Beryl Eichenberger on Litnet from 2008. And Richard de Nooy’s review on Goodreads in 2009. In taking on Whiplash, I knew I had to leave my full-time job at the Centre for the Book. And the rest is history.
In 2017, Meg Rickards and Paul Egan, of Boondoggle brought out a movie based on Whiplash, which was called Tess.