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Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

Brazilian edition of Futhi Ntshingila’s Do Not Go Gentle published

Sem GentilezaThis week sees the publication of Futhi Ntshingila’s second novel, Do Not Go Gentle, into Portuguese. Brazilian publishers, Dublinense have translated the novel into Portuguese and now it is out.

Both Gustavo Faraon and I were participants in the 2012 Frankfurt Invitation Programme, which is where we met and when we met to look at each other’s catalogues the following year, the seeds of this translation project were sown. Here is the English translation from google translate of the press release put out by Dublinense on June 22nd, 2016.

“This is not just any book.
Without kindness (Direct Translation of Sem Gentileza – the Portuguese title) was written by Futhi Ntshingila. She’s a South African. She’s Zulu.

Although so rich in features – and here counted with the paints only a culture that is not our own, from an imaginary one so different and in a way so own -, stories very similar to this sprout for all corners of the world. Are stories of women who have not been given a choice not to be resist and try, like her, preserve her own integrity.
Women that need to be strong – only because they are women.

The journey that led to the publication of this book began, in fact, to meet the publisher modjaji books, from Cape Town, and his incredible publisher militant Colleen Higgs. The Publisher, baptized in tribute to the goddess of the rain, there is to give space to the South African women, whose voices vibrant remained relegated to the sidelines and in the shade since forever.

This editorial project was really inspiring to us. And it seemed clear that it was necessary to bring the books that Colleen edited for an even bigger audience, to Brazil, for you. We were reading and analyzing various titles, and it was clear that the stories could be unique, but together they reflected an issue that is not limited to a specific region or culture. And so we come to this novel which we believe to be very representative.

Our Brazilian edition in Portuguese of without kindness is the first in a foreign language. The own author now is dedicated to translate it to isizulu.
That is why, for us, this is not just any book. It points to something that we want to pursue.

That this book find many readers and readers in Brazil, and that this will allow us to continue bringing many other stories that help to give a voice to those who do not have.”

Gustavo Faraon of Dublinense at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2015

Gustavo Faraon of Dublinense at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2015

We hope that Futhi will be invited to a literary festival and will be able to go to Brazil later this year to meet her new audience.

As the press release says, Modjaji is looking to bring out an isiZulu edition of Do Not Go Gentle in 2017. Futhi is doing the translation herself. Watch this space!

Do Not Go Gentle

Book details

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PE Book Launch: I’m the Girl Who Was Raped by Michelle Hattingh

I'm the Girl Who Was RapedMichelle HattinghFogarty’s and Modjaji Books invite you to the Port Elizabeth launch of I’m the Girl Who Was Raped, a memoir by Michelle Hattingh. The author comes from Port Elizabeth, so she is back in her home town talking about her incredibly courageous book.

“Compelling, clear and beautiful writing on such a necessary topic. She shatters rape myths on every page.” Jen Thorpe, gender activist and author of The Peculiars.

“Many people think middle class women are magically immune to rape or that if they are raped their easy access to the resources they need will be everything they need to recover completely. A book that discusses the cross cutting nature of the pain all women must feel when a man rapes them can only be welcomed in a time when communities across South Africa struggle with high rape rates.” Kathleen Dey of Rape Crisis

More about the book:
That morning, Michelle presented her Psychology honours thesis on men’s perceptions of rape. She started her presentation like this, “A woman born in South Africa has a greater chance of being raped than learning how to read …” On that same evening, she goes to a party to celebrate attaining her degree. She and a friend go to the beach; the friend has something she wants to discuss. They are both robbed, assaulted and raped. Within minutes of getting help, Michelle realises she’ll never be herself again. She’s now “the girl who was raped.”

This book is Michelle’s fight to be herself again. Of the taint she feels, despite the support and resources at her disposal as the loved child of a successful middle-class family. Of the fall-out to friendships, job, identity. It’s Michelle’s brave way of standing up for the women in South Africa who are raped every day.

About the author:

Michelle Hattingh was born in South Africa in 1988. She attended school in Port Elizabeth and studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Stellenbosch University. She went on to do her Honours in Psychology at Cape Town University and now lives in Cape Town. Michelle works as senior online content producer at Marie Claire SA. Her work has been published in Elle SA, Marie Claire SA and Mail & Guardian. I’m the Girl Who Was Raped is her first book.

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 12 May 2016
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: GFI Gallery, 30 Park Drive, Central, Port Elizabeth
  • Guest Speaker: Emily Buchanan
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine and snacks
  • RSVP: Fogarty’s,, 041 368 1425

I'm the Girl Who Was Raped
Book Details

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Here’s a little thank you gift from Modjaji Books

Book MarkWe’re giving all of our Facebook Friends and Likers a small gift – a R100 voucher to buy books off our website. Choose your book/s and when you check out, use the coupon “facebook” (all lower space and no quotation marks) to claim your R100 voucher. It’s a small way of saying thank you! The R100 gift voucher is on offer till the end of July 2015.

Small Print
*You do need to LIKE our Facebook page in order to take advantage of this offer.
*Only one voucher per person.

Our website is

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Q and A with Priscilla Holmes on Bruce Dennill’s blog

Now I see youBruce Dennill caught up with Priscilla Holmes about her crime fiction novel, Now I See You

Tabisa Or Not Tabisa?, Or Of Xhosa It’s Ok To Take On Taboo Subjects
January 18,2015

Described as a “racy, pacy crime thriller,” Priscilla Holmes’ Now I See You has met with popularity and warm reception. Filled with the sights, sounds, and local flavor of the Eastern Cape especially, the book travels from the glittering restaurants of Johannesburg to the backroads of the rural Eastern Cape, from the corridors of financial and political power to the safe houses of rural tradition. It features a feisty and intelligent heroine, DI Tabisa Tswane, who, in her investigation into a series of robberies by masked, eerie-voiced gunmen, has to draw on her wits, courage, and self-awareness to navigate worlds dominated by men, culminating in a confrontation with her own troubled past.

Priscilla Holmes

To read the full interview, click here

Now I See You

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Teaching writing – my backstory – chapter 1

Aerial magazineRobert Berold and I started a creative writing course run through the ISEA at Rhodes in 1997. I’m pleased to report the course is still running. And to some extent it was the precursor of the MA in Creative Writing now run at Rhodes. This year is the ISEA‘s 50th birthday and a couple of months ago Robert asked me to contribute a piece to a 50th birthday publication celebrating the work of the ISEA.

I’m also posting this now as a way of contributing to bringing back BooksLive as a Platform of Choice.

My history as a writer and a writing teacher is very long and deep and could form a central theme of a memoir, if I were to write one. But briefly – I wrote stories, poems, notes, ideas for novels, fragments, plays and many other things as a child and as a teenager. From about the age of 14 I kept journals faithfully, this practice continues, not quite as faithfully as when I was younger. I did a degree in English Literature – partly because of my love for reading and writing. They are threaded together very closely in my mind and experience. My desire to write was partly about wanting to join in the conversation.

I discovered the approach to teaching creative writing that we used in the ISEA course when I was invited by Bobby Marie of the National of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) to run a workshop with an American writer and activist named Louise Dunlap in about 1993. I worked with her on a 10 week workshop with NUMSA shop stewards and organisers; she was only there for the first 4 workshops or so. Louise also did some work at Wits (where I was working at the time) and in other contexts. I did a kind of shadow internship with her. She was the first person I’d met who was using Peter Elbow’s method of freewriting, which later influenced Natalie Goldberg.

Louise Dunlap gave me a book by Natalie Goldberg as a gift, called Writing Down the Bones, this book changed my life as a writer. At the time I was working in Academic Development and with tutors at Wits, and became very interested in teaching academic writing the way Elbow and Goldberg suggested – using freewriting, group feedback processes for example. I had already become familiar with some of the ways in which writing teachers in the US were working, and had ordered and read books published by the Teachers & Writers Collaborative, written by Ron Padgett, Alan Ziegler, and others. I taught a few six week courses at the Centre for Continuing Education at Wits in 1994 and 1995.

Even then, I was interested in publishing – I wanted to teach writing, but also to encourage writers to publish. I was the first person in my family to go to university, so I didn’t take intellectual capital for granted. For me because of my experience as a teacher and because of working in academic development, I was aware that you could learn how to do things – like write academic essays, and that you could learn to become more accomplished if you learnt approaches and practices in doing new things. I had also experienced the Paolo Freirean notion that you learn much more when you teach people something, than when you are taught, so my desire to teach writing was not completely altruistic – it was a way to learn how to be a writer and how to write in a more accomplished way myself. Louise Dunlap was very influenced by Paolo Freire and his approaches to teaching and learning. And I had also done some training in teaching Literacy, which used Freirean methods.

When I moved to Grahamstown at the end of 1995, I brought some freelance writing work with me, developing educational materials. I also wanted to do explore the idea of teaching creative writing, so Robert Berold and I approached the ISEA to set up a course. We ran the first course in 1997, and it took off immediately: I was surprised at how many people were interested in doing it. We got people started with freewriting, and then later we sat in groups and discussed our work in a non-judgmental way (in the way I had learned from Louise Dunlap).

Some of the principles of this approach to feedback and discussion are:

First the writer reads out their own piece of writing: it works best if everyone involved has a printed copy of the writing to refer to. Then the writer asks the readers/ listeners for the answers to some questions that s/he has about her/his own writing. For example: What worked? Where did I lose you? Is there anything that jarred or worried you? All responses are to be owned by those giving them, so that the writer doesn’t feel attacked, but feels rather that the writing has been listened to and attended to closely.

There were hardly any creative writing courses in the country then, and Robert and I had to make it up as we went along. The two of us would do all the exercises that the ‘students’ did, which got us writing, and helped us understand the impact and effectiveness of the exercises. It also shifted the dynamics in the sessions, and made them less teacher-centric. This practice is one that came from Louise Dunlap and Peter Elbow.

I think we held the space together quite well. We opened the course to everyone – you didn’t have to be a Rhodes student or connected to the university. From the beginning we had the idea that there should be a publication at the end of each course. Robert was good at one-on-one interactions with the other writers, and would read their writing with them and suggest edits and directions for the writing. I was better at holding the whole group, and making up exercises. My background as a teacher and a teacher educator meant I had experience in managing big groups.

I taught on the course for four years, from 1997 until I left Grahamstown at the end of 2000, which meant four issues of Aerial, the magazine we published. Some of the people I remember who came to the course were Arona Dison, Charlotte Jefferay, John Forbis, Louise Green, Nadine Botha, Crystal Warren, Sandile ‘Dudu’ Saki, Paulette Coetzee and Deborah Seddon. Robert and I also ran two week-long courses for writers from further afield, called Writing from Here – they included people like Mzwandile Matiwana, Mike Alfred, Mxolisi Nyezwa, Christina Coates, Colleen Crawford Cousins.

I loved it. It was a very exciting space for a lot of people, and it was inspiring for me. You get to know people differently when you meet them in their writing. And I think that for many of the writers we worked with, having work published in Aerial was their first time to be published.


A selected Bibliography of books that have influenced my work as a writer and a writing teacher

Brande, Dorothea. (1934 first published, republished 1996) Becoming a writer. London: Macmillan.
Cameron, Julia. (2000) The right to write. London: Macmillan.
Dunlap, Louise. (2007) Undoing the silence: Six tools for social change writing. New Village Press, Oakland, California.
Elbow, Peter. (1973) Writing without teachers. New York: Oxford University Press.
Goldberg, Natalie. (1986) Writing down the bones. Boston & London: Shambhala and (1990) Wild mind. New York: Bantam Books.
King, Stephen. (2000) On writing: a memoir. London: Hodder & Stoughton.
Lamott, Anne. (1994) Bird by bird – some instructions on writing and life. New York: Anchor Books, Doubleday.
Reeves, Judy. (1999) A writer’s book of days – a spirited companion and lively muse for the writing life. Novato, California: New World Library.

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Modjaji Books has a new partner!

Emily BWe are delighted to introduce Emily Buchanan, who joined us in August 2014. Emily brings enthusiasm, great ideas and experience in finance and publishing. She is a recent graduate of UCT’s Creative Writing masters programme.

Modjaji Books was founded in 2007 by Colleen Higgs, who has worked with freelance specialists and young interns to build the press. Modjaji has grown into an established small feminist press with a strong list of seventy titles including novels, memoirs, short stories and poetry.

Colleen acknowledges that she would not have been able to do what she has done without the help of a great many people, including independent bookstores and booksellers, Megadigital printers, Blue Weaver Marketing, the writers, many friends, editors, illustrators and designers, media people and of course readers, who have all assisted, supported and rooted for Modjaji.

Modjaji Books hopes to maintain her practice of mentoring and publishing southern African women’s voices, and to continue to expand her authors’ readership in South Africa and in the rest of the world.

To see more about our work check out the Modjaji Books website here

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New submissions closed till February 2015

slushpileWe’re closing new manuscript submissions till February 2015. Modjaji is a tiny publishing company, mostly just me, and an intern and a team of amazing freelancers. Modjaji has been going since 2007 and we’ve published over 60 titles. Seven years on – I need a break from the flow of 20 or more submissions a week and time to reflect on what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. We also need time to work on what we have already taken on and to get those manuscripts out into the world. So if you were thinking of submitting to Modjaji, hang onto your manuscripts till February and we’ll open the submissions doors again.

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#ModjajiBooks #flf2014

Yewande OmotosoAzilaReisenbergerKarin Schimke

Catch some Modjaji authors at the 2014 Franschoek Literary Festival this May. You will get sightings, signings and maybe even meetings of/with these writers, check the programme to see what they are doing and with whom.

Phumzile Simelane KalumbaMakhosazana Xaba

All of these writers and many more will be in Franschoek, come and listen to them read, debate, discuss,and engage with each other.

Yewande Omotoso, author of Bom Boy, will be there. So will Karen Jennings (Finding Soutbek), (she’s not a Modjaji author) but both she and Yewande were short-listed for the inaugural Etisalat Prize for Literature this year, along with No Violet Bulawayo, who won the prize.

Phumzile Simelane Kalumba, author of Jabulani Means Rejoice – Dictionary of South African Names will be there, so will poet, Khadija Heeger (Beyond the Delivery Room)

Come and meet the multi-talented Makhosazana Xaba, author of Running & Other Stories and co-editor of Queer Africa: New and Collected Stories.

Arja Salafranca, whose collection of stories, The Thin Line, we published in 2010. We’re also publishing a new collection of her poems, in collaboration with Dye Hard Press. Due out soon.

Meg Vandermerwe, first published by Modjaji Books in 2010, with her collection of stories, This Place I Call Home, has a novel out with Umuzi, Zebra Crossing.

Karin Schimke, poet – whose debut collection, Bare & Breaking was published in 2012.

Azila Talit Reisenberger‘s collection, Life in Translation was published in 2008 and was one of the first books we published. She’s since published another collection of poems and a novel.

Finuala Dowling, award-winning novelist and poet, (published mainly by Kwela and possibly Penguin) is also the editor and compiler of Difficult to Explain, is a collection of poems by various poets, and which includes an essay about teaching poetry by Finuala is published by our Hands-On Books imprint.

Christopher Nicholson, author of the collection of short stories, No Sacred Cows (also a Hands-On Books publication) will be there too.

Life in Translation Difficult to ExplainBare & BreakingNo Sacred Cows
Bom BoyJabulani means RejoiceFinding Soutbek
Queer Africa
Beyond the Delivery Room

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Finnish book blogger loves Fiona Snyckers’ Trinity series

Team TrinityIrma Rissanen, a book blogger from Finland got in touch with me on Friday to ask for the cover of Team Trinity. She is a big fan of Fiona Snyckers’ Trinity character and has read all three of the books in the series so far. She sent a link to her blog where she writes about the Trinity series. This is one of the thrills of being a publisher, seeing written evidence of one of your books travelling to another part of the world.

In our back and forth correspondence, Irma offered to send an English translation of her blog for Fiona and I. I’ve posted some of the Finnish blog. And you can read the whole blog in English too. Irma compares Fiona’s writing to Sophie Kinsella! Read the translated blog to get the same goosebumps I got. She gets Trinity and she loves her.

Suomessa ollaan chick litin saralla vielä aika untuvikkoja. Muualla maailmassa chick litiä on kuitenkin kirjoitettu jo…noh, maailman sivu.

Etelä-Afrikan vastine Himoshoppaajalle on Fiona Snyckersin Trinity. Kirjasarjan päähenkilö on Trinity Luhabe, shoppailuhullu sinkkutyttö Johannesburgista.

Mutta kun isä on ollut Nelson Mandelan vankilatoveri Robben Islandilla ja äiti valkoihoinen aktivisti rasisminvastaisessa taistelussa, ei Trinitynkään elämä ole ollut sieltä normaaleimmasta päästä. Isä on nimittäin sen tason kansallissankari, että hänet tunnistetaan missä vain. Isän lisäksi tunnistetaan myös tytär, ainakin heti kun hänen sukunimensä paljastuu.

South African chick lit: single in Johannesburg

When it comes to chick lit, Finnish authors are still fledglings. But when it comes to the rest of the world, chick lit has been written… well, the world over.

Fiona Snyckers’s Trinity is South Africa’s answer to the [Sophie Kinsella's] Shopaholic. The protagonist of the book series is Trinity, a shopaholic single girl from Johannesburg.

But Trinity isn’t just any old girl. Her father is one of the last activists who was imprisoned in Robben Island, the same prison as Nelson Mandela, and her mother is the daughter of Afrikaans farming family who spent her university days protesting against apartheid. Trinity’s father is now a national hero recognized wherever he goes. And so is Trinity, at least the minute people find out what her last name is.

In Trinity Rising, the first of the series, Trinity starts a degree at university. Trinity would like to be just like any other student but because of her famous background it’s not always that easy. Trinity’s favorite subjects, shopping and good-looking boys, and the teacher’s demands (of making it to lectures on time) don’t always go hand in hand.

Trinity Rising is a witty, funny, engrossing chick lit book with the additional value of an exotic, South African setting.

In Trinity on Air, Trinity has graduated from university and is looking for a job in Johannesburg. When her dream job at a radio station, her gorgeous boyfriend and her handsome neighbourg all turn out to be something else entirely, Trinity finds herself in the ride of her life.

Team Trinity, published last year, is the third of the series and my absolute favorite. In addition to fun and excitement, it also deals with more serious issues, like racism and violence.

The book is a prequel to the series. Sixteen year old Trinity and her brothers have to spend a term in the school boarding house while their parents are dealing with urgent matters overseas. The first person Trinity meets in the common room is a boy who treats Trinity with an outrageously racist manner. When he sees Trinity, he presumes that she is the cleaning-lady! Trinity is obviously furious. Who is this mysterious boy who dresses in retro clothes and behaves like someone from the old South Africa? And why does he disappear whenever Trinity’s friends are around?

Then Trinity bumps into his dream guy, Zach, who is a couple years older. At first everything is hunky-dory between the two but soon Trinity turns into a shadow of her old self. Will Trinity realize why before it’s too late?

Fiona Snyckers writes about the teenage world engagingly and skillfully. She balances extremely well with teenage issues such as crushes, crash diets, self-image and bad relationships.

The book ends on such a cliffhanger it leaves you yearning for a sequel!

So, treat yourself with a cup of rooibos and melktert and let South Africa’s Shopaholic carry you away!

Team Trinity

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Book Launch: The Last to Leave by Margaret Clough

The Last to Leave

The Last to Leave

Kalk Bay Books and Modjaji Books are delighted to invite you to the launch of Margaret Clough’s second volume of poetry, The Last to Leave. Finuala Dowling will introduce Margaret and talk with her about her work. Margaret will also read to us, those of you who have not heard Margaret read before are in for a huge treat.

The Last to Leave is Margaret Clough’s second collection of poetry. These poems follow on from her first extremely popular collection, At Least the Duck Survived in that the light, warm-hearted tone continues as does Clough’s engagement with aging and mortality. These poems are a tonic and leave the reader feeling refreshed, saddened and better off.

“Margaret Clough’s poems are poignant and hilarious; an indispensable guide to being The Last to Leave.” Finuala Dowling

Critics had this to say about At Least the Duck survived:

“a wry, humorous collection of poetry with a twinkle in its eye and a spring in its step. Poetry for the young at heart, and for those facing old age, but with attitude.” Litnet

“joyful and plump with life” The Cape Times

Margaret Clough has worked as a Science teacher, a soil chemist and a food technologist and only started writing after retiring to Cape Town a few years ago. She has had stories published in various journals. Her poems have been published in Carapace, New Contrast and Aerodrome. Her first collection of poems, At Least the Duck Survived was published in 2011; she also contributed to the collection Difficult to Explain edited by Finuala Dowling.

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THe Last to Leave

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