Jolyn Phillips’s first book, Tjieng Tjang Tjerries and other stories is causing waves for Modjaji Books and for her and in all kinds of ways.
There are lots of firsts associated with this book. It was selected for Homebru by Exclusive Books and it wasn’t even a book that we submitted – because short stories. It’s a collection of short stories by a debut author.
As far as we know it is the first literary book to come out of Gansbaai.
The launch at The Book Lounge was packed and all copies of Tjieng Tjang Tjerries sold out.
Jolyn appeared at the Franschhoek Lit Fest this year on a panel with Deon Meyer, Rahla Xenopoulos and Darrel Bristow-Bovey. Fabulous, talented and celebrated as the three other panelists are, for me Jolyn stole the show. All her books were sold out at Franschhoek too. These are good problems for a new writer and her publisher to have.
There was an interview with Jolyn in the Mail & Guardian (click here to read the whole interview).
This is what Jolyn says about writing in the short story form:
“Although I have written a short story collection, the form found me and not the other way around. I find that one should just write your truth and your stories will mould into the shape they need. I had 13 different lives and, although from the same cloth of landscape, they wanted to be given a moment that was only theirs.
Believe me, I tried making them poetry. I even tried to make it a novel but my characters taught me that everything is character. Language is character. Landscape is character. I tried to tell my characters what to do and they took the pen from my hand, pushed me aside and wrote themselves.”
She was also interviewed for Glamour, where I was interested in her list of favourite books.
The first review that the collection got was a BIG, RAVE review in the Cape Times (click for larger image):
Jolyn Phillips’ language is highly original, a vibrant English, full of colloquialisms and Afrikaans too, making it challenging for those who are not fluent in both English and Afrikaans. See the review below by Jay Heale for BookChat.
TJIENG TJANG TJERRIES & other short stories by Jolyn Phillips (Modjaji Books 2016)
You need to be strongly bilingual (which I am not) to capture the rich flavour of the coarse, colourful Gansbaai patois. I’m not sure why the author has chosen to put most of this in English, as I’m sure that the real Gansbaai residents talk mostly Afrikaans with racy, rude, frequently funny additions of their own. Without doubt, this is a bold piece of adventure into language with an utterly Overberg flavour.
If you would like to read a couple of the stories, they were published online at:
Here’s a radio interview with Tamara LePine on Classic FM:
In the meantime, we’re looking forward to a Gansbaai launch in July. Phillips is a young writer to keep an eye on!