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Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

In memory of Richie Benaud

b. 6 October 1930 – 10 April 2015

Australian cricket captain (1958-1964); globally acclaimed commentator; reason for the South African cricket team’s “choker” tag.


This is an updated extract from 50 People Who Stuffed Up South Africa by Alexander Parker, with illustrations by Zapiro

50 People Who Stuffed Up South Africa (Revised Edition) low res

Let’s be straight up about this: Richie Benaud was an absolute legend. Never has an internationally respected authority on cricket combined such a gentlemanly and unassuming knowledge of the game with such a sartorially smashing collection of off-white sports jackets. Whether beige, cream, ivory, light tan, vanilla, bone, bamboo, sand, camel or cashew, Richie wore those jackets like a king, and in doing so he became one of the most loved and lovable names in all of sport. And an Aussie at that.

But the man right royally screwed us over. And by “us” I mean every cricket-loving South African who’s ever yearned for the sweet taste of World Cup victory.

Casual observers of the recent history of South Africa will often point to that fateful World Cup semifinal in Birmingham in 1999, when Lance Klusener took us to the brink of a sensational victory over Australia before it was tragically snatched from under our noses by a needless run-out, as the moment when we assumed the mantle of crunch-match chokers. The game ended in a tie, with the Australians progressing to the final on a superior run rate, and it’s no understatement to suggest that the psychological damage inflicted on South African fans that day cast a pall of gloom over the country for months, possibly years, to follow. Even today, the memory still raises a tremble of moisture in the eye. (And spare a thought for Klusener, one of the true legends of South African one-day cricket and a genuinely nice guy. In 2011 he admitted that he still thinks about the incident regularly. “I’ve asked the questions a thousand times, if not a million. Why did we run? Why didn’t I wait for the next ball,” he said. “It’s become a part of me and who I am. I’ll be asked about it for the rest of my life and I’ll always have to say
I’m sorry.”)

But our failure in key knockout matches goes back further than the Birmingham tie – to 22 March 1992 to be precise. The venue was the Sydney Cricket Ground and the match was another World Cup semifinal, this time against England. Back then, we were the new kids on the World Cup block, having recently returned to the international fold after years in the sporting wilderness, and no-one fancied our chances going in to the tournament. But we’d played out of our boots and somehow made our way to the semis on the back of a tight bowling attack, Peter Kirsten’s artful bat and Jonty Rhodes’s inspirational fielding.

The game was a cracker, hanging in the balance from start to finish. Donald got Gooch early, and Pringle bowled well, but the Zimbabwe-born Graeme Hick hit a fluid 83 before a late flurry from Reeve got England to 252 in 45 overs. South Africa hadn’t bowled the full 50 overs by the designated end-of-innings time, so the tournament rules – and here’s where Richie started getting involved, because he’s the man credited with devising them – necessitated that the five overs not bowled be simply lobbed off both the English and South African innings. An odd rule, many would have concluded at the time, but not as odd – or cruel – as that which governed the target re-calculation after a rain delay…

South Africa started the chase at a good clip, with Hudson hitting 46 off 52, but we lost wickets regularly and were struggling to keep up with the required rate by the middle overs. Rhodes then got the chase back on track with a typically live-wire 43, before he, too, lost his wicket, and it was left to stalwarts Brian McMillan and Dave Richardson to take us through the last critical overs. Then, with 22 required for victory off 13 balls and McMillan on strike, it started to rain. Not too heavily, mind you, just enough to get the players off the field. For 12 minutes. Twelve fateful minutes.

Once again, Richie’s rules kicked in, and when play resumed South African fans were aghast to see that our allotment of overs had been reduced by one while our target remained steadfast: 22 required off 7 balls, read the SCG scoreboard. Suddenly, a tricky situation had transmogrified into a Herculean task – a near-miracle was required, all because of a ridiculous formula that saw the runs scored in the least expensive over of the English innings, in this case a Pringle maiden, being deducted from the target. Meanwhile, the weather was now fine and the floodlights were blazing – there was all night to finish the game. But the farce was not yet complete: somewhere in the ground the minute hand on the relevant timepiece ticked over once more and it was deemed that yet another over had been lost, this time in conjunction with one run from the target: suddenly 21 runs were required off just 1 ball*. Now not even a miracle would suffice. A stone-faced McMillan prodded the last ball of the match away for a single, and we’d lost by 19 runs. A potentially brilliant climax had been reduced to absurdity; South Africa’s unlikely World Cup dream was over.

“Twelve minutes of rain was all it took to wreck a classic contest and produce the sort of farce that so often crops up when cricket’s regulations get themselves in a tangle,” wrote Cricinfo’s UK editor Andrew Miller, when reviewing the match some years after the fact. But those 12 minutes didn’t just wreck a classic match. In the years and competitions to come, it seemed that those 12 minutes had instilled in South African cricket the notion that, come the critical moment in a high-profile knockout match, the fates would conspire against us. First it was the bizarre rain ruling in Sydney; then it was one-man-team Brian Lara destroying us in the 1996 quarterfinal in Karachi (again by 19 runs); then that tragic run-out in Birmingham in 1999; then another debacle in the rain in 2003, this time against Sri Lanka in Durban, when poor Shaun Pollock and Eric Simons couldn’t get their maths right… By the time the 2007 World Cup rolled around, the team, now ingrained with angst-filled bewonderment at our inability to pull off the big victory that our world rankings suggested was our due, tried to just relax and not get expectations up – a strategy that saw us limp into the semifinals, only to be rolled over by Australia like the blind school’s 5th XI. Needless to say, the curse struck again in 2011: we were bundled out in the quarters by a very mediocre New Zealand – a team we’d beaten eight times in the previous ten encounters – having, at one stage, been cantering to victory.

And then, 2015. Back down under. And history repeating itself as the fated rain once again fell on South Africa in a World Cup semifinal… And though the rain rules had been updated by Messrs Duckworth and Lewis as a direct result of that 1992 debacle in Sydney, the new rules hadn’t kept up with the changing pace of limited-overs cricket (and may well be changed in the near future as a result). New Zealand were given the sniff they should never have had, and the legacy of 1992 decreed a nail-biting victory to the team that wasn’t South Africa. For those of us with “South Africa To Win Need 22 Runs Off 1 Ball” still seared into their memories 23 years later, we knew it was inevitable from the moment that first drop fell – though that didn’t stop us hoping till the very last ball…

After more than a decade as one of the top-ranked limited-overs sides in the world, what do we have to show for our endeavours? Well, we did win the inaugural ICC Champions Trophy in 1998 in Bangladesh… and that’s it. We haven’t won a World Cup, whether ODI or T20. We haven’t made it into a World Cup final. Amazingly, we have won only one knockout match at a World Cup: our 2015 quarterfinal against Sri Linka. (Which is something, at least.)

How is this possible? Why does it happen? No-one can say. But we’ve got to blame someone, and in the absence of any other contenders, it has to be Richie.

Richie Benaud – a champion himself, and the most marvellous of the modern commentators – passed away in April 2015. Go well, Richie, and may your ghost look more kindly on us at the next World Cup in 2019…

* The TV display and scoreboard incorrectly indicated 22 runs required.

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Burnet Media at the Frankfurt Book Fair

Well, that was something.

Anyone who’s been to the world’s biggest book fair, the Frankfurter Buchmesse in Frankfurt, Germany, will know that it’s not exactly a walk in the park. On the contrary, it’s a power march across acres of hall space and past hundreds of publishers’ stands, from one meeting to the next, to a David Nicholls interview half a kilometre away, then perhaps up a couple of floors to see German design books and artwork and then back to the English-language hall to check out more publishers displays via the antiquarian section (interesting!) and then yet another meeting…

I had been sent to Frankfurt by Struik in the past, so I at least knew what to expect, but this was my first time as the publishing director of my own company, Burnet Media. Having started life in 2010, Burnet Media focused initially on South African-specific material; there hadn’t been the need to seriously consider making the trip to Frankfurt. These days we’ve got broader horizons and some titles with genuine global potential. It was time to go international, and thanks to the generosity of Lit Prom’s Invitational Programme, we got the opportunity this year.

Lit Prom is a German organisation that describes itself as a “society for the promotion of African, Asian and Latin American Literature”. Through its Invitational Programme, every year it takes 20-25 independent publishers from the developing world to Frankfurt to show them ropes. It’s a wonderful philanthropic process and a truly impressive organisational feat, and this year I was lucky to be a part of it.

Before (the night before).

Before (the night before).

After (12 hours later).

After (12 hours later).


The Burnet Media stand at Frankfurt 2014.

The Burnet Media stand at Frankfurt 2014.

We arrived five days before the official start of the fair; publishers from Guinea Bissau, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Uruguay, Venezuela, Georgia, Montenegro and Ukraine. And me, from South Africa.

Needless to say, such a gathering tends to open the mind and put the world in perspective. While I worry about the depressed state of trade publishing in South Africa, our bookstore chains’ that hold unhealthy amounts of power over publishers and unapologetic printers that make cover mistakes and miss delivery dates, my fellow independent publishers from around the world had more… varied concerns.

Bryony van der Merwe from our Namibia plies her trade in a country of two million people, the smallest fraction of whom are regular book readers. There are a mere handful of bookstores around the country.

On the other end of the scale, Richard Ali from Nigeria has a potential market of more than 170 million people, yet he must work as a lawyer in his spare time to keep putting out books. “The state does not even care enough to ban books any more,” he laments – a rather different take on censorship to a South African, perhaps, but one that makes sense in a land currently suffering insurrection, terrorism and general dysfunction.

For outright civil war, there are stories from Volodymyr Samoylenko from Ukraine and Marwan Adwan from Syria. Earlier this year Volodmyr’s business partner in Donetsk was kidnapped and ransomed for $5,000. “If it was me, I would not have $5,000 to pay,” he explains with a laugh.

Meanwhile, Marwan doesn’t even live in Syria any more, having escaped to Dubai about a year ago due to safety concerns. Despite an ongoing war that has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives, he aims to keep publishing in Syria while keeping as much of the process as possible in-country – not always easy when printers, warehouses and your general reading population are being shelled. “They are struggling and fighting each other,” he says. “I am publishing books.”

Despite our vast cultural and circumstantial differences, the attendees of the Invitational Programme are of course bound together by their common cause: a love of books and a desire to create them. At times the cross-cultural assemblage was almost comical – a Puerto Rican, a Nigerian and a South African walk into a room…– but when the Puerto Rican, Nigerian and South African end up finding common cause in the difficulty of dealing with book returns, finding the magic number on a POD print run, or handling egotistical authors who think their book is the only one you’re working on at the moment – well, then it all makes sense.

After five days of seminars, workshops, boat trips on the Main and general acclimatisation, the Book Fair itself kicked off. Suffice it to say, it was as frenetic and entertaining as ever, both soul-uplifting and sole-destroying. Miles were walked, meetings were taken, doors were opened.

A personal highlight was my opportunity to see where “the real deals get done” before the fair even begins, when I met a German publisher at the swanky Frankfurterhof Hotel in the centre of town. I arrived shortly before the president of Finland (with a 12-motorbike escort; Finland was this year’s guest of honour), and my 25-minute meeting took place standing up and jammed in the corner of a plush lounge area with dozens of similar meetings going on about us.

The good news? South African crime-thriller writers are the flavour of the month in Germany. And the bad? It will be a couple of months before we discover if anything comes of this meeting and the various others I had.

But after my time with the courageous souls of the Invitational Programme, I’m rather optimistic.

My sincere thanks for an intense, wonderful and exhausting experience to all my fellow attendees on Invitational Programme, and of course to the Lit Prom organisers and facilitators, particularly Corry, Doris, Bernadette and Torsten. Any independent South African publisher looking for the best possible introduction to the Frankfurt Book Fair would do well to look up Corry von Mayenburg, the driving force behind the Invitational Programme. Contact us for details.

Invitational Programme members having a bit of fun amid 10 days of mayhem.

Invitational Programme members having a bit of fun amid 10 days of mayhem.

Interesting book cover presented by Invitational Programme attendee Ronny Agustinus of Indonesia's Marjin Kiri publishers. The cover of the book, about the destruction of books, is laser cut to appear as if it has been burnt.

Interesting book cover presented by Invitational Programme attendee Ronny Agustinus of Indonesia’s Marjin Kiri publishers. The cover of the book, about the destruction of books, is laser cut to appear as if it has been burnt.

The Frankfurterhof Hotel in downtown Frankfurt, where the "real deals" get done.

The Frankfurterhof Hotel in downtown Frankfurt, where the “real deals” get done.

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Melissa Siebert And Joanne Hichens Book Launch

You are invited to join Melissa Siebert and Joanne Hichens in conversation as they discuss Garden of Dreams (Siebert) and Adults Only (Hichens). This joint launch will be hosted by Wordsworth Books at Mugg & Bean at Longbeach Mall.


Date: Wednesday, 20th August
Time: 18h00 for 18h30
Venue: Mugg & Bean Longbeach Mall, Buller Louw Drive, Sunnydale, Cape Town

Wine and Snacks will be served

RSVP (021) 785-5311

More information available at

Melissa Siebert - Garden of Dreams HR

Adults Only


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Join Joanne Hichens and a cabaret of authors at The Book Lounge

New Adult's Only Invite


Mercury and Burnet Media invite you to join Joanne Hichens, along with a number of Adults Only contributors for the launch of Adults Only on Thursday, 21 August, at The Book Lounge in Cape Town.

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 21 August 2014
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: The Book Lounge
    71 Roeland Street
    Corner Buitenkant and Roeland streets
  • RSVP:, 021 462 2465
Adults Only

Adults Only

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Congratulations to the Short.Sharp.Stories. Adults Only winners

Nick Mulgrew with Adults Only

Nick Mulgrew holding Adults Only

It’s official!


Congratulations to the Short.Sharp.Stories. Awards winners:

Nick Mulgrew is the Judges’ Choice Winner for Best Story for Turning, “a story of youthful love that was handled with a deft touch, elevated by its clever linguistic insertions and a lovely sense of place.”

Sean Mayne receives the second Judges’ Choice Award for his comedic story Bring On The Clowns, “a feel good read which offers the luxury of laughing out loud.”

Tiffany Kagure Mugo receives the Publisher’s Choice Award, for Best New Voice, for her story Coming Into Self-Awareness, “an exuberant, enthusiastic tale which hit the brief perfectly, overflowing with sex and sensuality.”

Donvé Lee is the recipient of the Editor’s Choice Award, for her story The Mirror. “So human and tender, bringing the eternal questions of body-image to the fore.”

Nick Mulgrew has won R20 000 while Sean Mayne, Tiffany Kagure Mugo and Donvé Lee each received R5 000.


From Sarah Kingon, of Cue:

 Adults Only was officially launched on 9 July at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown at a discussion panel which featured Rhodes journalism lecturer and contributor Gillian Rennie; Alexander Matthews, editor of online publication Aerodrome; and Nick Mulgrew, Associate Editor of Prufrock literary magazine, whose story Turning wins this year’s R20 000 prize sponsored by the National Arts Festival. “As a writer,” said Mulgrew, “I never feel completely self-assured so this is a form of writing vindication.” His unique contribution to the anthology tells the story of a linguistics student at Rhodes, whose girlfriend realises she is lesbian. The beauty of the story lies in the way that linguistics weaves through this narrative about sex and homophobia.

Adults Only is the second Short.Sharp.Stories collection to be released and the topic of sex and sensuality was chosen this year because of its popularity in contemporary literature. “The collection explores the experiences of real human beings clashing around relationships,” said Hichens.

The 22 stories, selected from more than 150 entries, range in theme and style as well as the writing experience of the authors. Contributors include accomplished writers such as Christine Coates, Carla Lever and Bobby Jordan, as well as a number of new, young writers including Tiffany Kagure Mugo. Tales range from those of the bored housewife to gay marriage and on-off student relationships, while one of the more hard-hitting stories features a sado-masochistic ‘partnership’.

The discussion was not only about the book, but the purpose of such a book in a South African Context. Hichens believes that Adults Only, alongside last year’s anthology Bloody Satisfied (a crime thriller collection), offers a unique South African voice to the reader. The project gives South African writers a platform to be published, and the opportunity to be read.

“And short stories are great for those of us with ADD,” laughed contributor Alexander Matthews. “With new technology, the way we read has changed. We now read in short sharp bursts.”

Festival CEO Tony Lankester said he was proud to continue to fund this literary venture. “Festival is about good stories, and part of that is good quality writing.”

Next year’s title was announced as Incredible Journey – a broad theme, “so stories can range from science fiction to road trips or even journeys of the mind,” said Hichens. The call for entries will be made on





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Adults Only winners

Mercury Books and Short.Sharp.Stories, in conjunction with the National Arts Festival, are proud to announce the prize winners and commended stories from this year’s Short.Sharp.Story anthology, Adults Only.

The authors of the highly commended stories are (in alphabetical order):

Ken Barris

Christine Coates

Dudumalingani Mqombothi

Alex Smith


The authors of the top four stories are (in alphabetical order):

Donvé Lee

Sean Mayne

Tiffany Kagure Mugo

Nick Mulgrew


The overall winner will be announced at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown at the book’s launch – the 9th July, at 15:00 in the Rhodes Nuns Chapel. The winning author will receive R20 000 in prize money, and the other three authors will receive R5 000 each. The book will be available countrywide in July.

See here for more on Adults Only:

Adults Only

Adults Only

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Join Joanne Hichens for the Launch of Bloody Satisfied at Love Books

Invitation: Launch of Bloody Satisfied

Bloody SatisfiedJoin us for the launch of Bloody Satisfied, edited by Joanne Hichens at Love books in Melville at 5: 30 PM for 6 PM.

Hichens will be in conversation with Yewande Omotoso, Anthony Ehlers, Anirood Singh, Mncedise Thambe, Nechama Brodie, Siphiwo Mahala and Sandile Memela.

See you there!

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 29 August 2013
  • Time: 5:30 PM for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: Love Books
    The Bamboo Lifestyle Centre
    53 Rustenburg Road
    Melville | Map
  • RSVP:, 011 726 7408

Book Details

  • Bloody Satisfied by Nechama Brodie, Peter Church, Anthony Ehlers, Luke Fiske, Megan Furniss, Dawn Garisch, Amy Heydenrych, Beth Hunt, Liam Kruger, Greg Lazarus, Siphiwo Mahala, Sandile Memela, Peter Merrington, T.O. Molefe, Jill Morsbach, Chris Nicholson, Yewande Omotoso, Andrew Salomon, Melissa Siebert, Anirood Singh, Roger Smith, Jo Stielau, Mncedise Thambe, Colin Ward, edited by Joanne Hichens
    Book Homepage
    EAN: 9780987043733
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Winners Sparkle at the Launch of Bloody Satisfied at the Book Lounge

TO Molefe, Liam Kruger, Joanne Hichens and Dawn Garisch

Bloody SatisfiedThe Book Lounge was abuzz last week with various writers who had come to celebrate their inclusion in the latest short story anthology to make an impression on the South African literary scene. Curator of the Short Sharp Stories Award, Joanne Hichens, who collated and edited the collection, welcomed the crowd that had gathered to enjoy the festivities. The overall winner was Dawn Garisch who won R20 000 for the best story. She joined Hichens in conversation with TO Molefe, winner of the most original story, and Liam Kruger, winner of the award for the best new voice. Roger Smith, winner of the best thriller, was unable to attend.

Hichens said she had received in excess of 200 entries in three months. “This new award is intended to encourage, support and showcase established and emerging South African writing talent. It represents a celebration of local,” she said, “as the award is open to South African citizens and residents.” She said she hoped the collection would go some way to helping establish a culture of writing and reading in the country. “Part of the aim was to create a book with commercial value. We wanted to put together a book with stories containing strong narrative lines, good characters and enthralling stories.” She also thanked Deon Meyer, who endorsed the book with a generous foreword.

Kruger, whose complex and intriguing story is about the art of murder, spoke about the origin of his story. “I take public transport twice a day,” he said. “I think about committing murder twice a day!” He has a fairly large cachet of possible acts with elaborate plans on how to accomplish the task of those who annoy him routinely. However at the tender age of 23, he decided not to actually commit the dastardly deed but to write about it. “As the competition deadline approached, I couldn’t decide which storyline to embellish so I used them all,” he said.

Hichens welcomed the well known journalist and non-fiction author, Molefe, to the microphone next. She said, “This is a brave post-apocalyptic story that highlights dualities of love and hate, of destruction while trying to gain wisdom and trying to build something up.” She asked how this related to his life and to his non-fiction. Molefe reflected on the tendency of South Africans to examine how things were before and after 1994. He writes daily about how the past continues to influence the present. “Time as a concept is an interesting duality,” he said. “I like imagining what might be going on. I like to project my own story onto other people’s lives.” Hichens applauded the way Molefe tackled the crime of poor leadership and corruption in his stories and urged him to “make the novel happen”.

Garisch read part of her winning story before sharing her experience of the challenges of being a doctor and a writer. Hichens asked, “How do you reconcile your work as a doctor with writing such a viciously wicked crime story?” In jest she said, “Will you still have a practice after this publication?”

Garisch spoke of the need to heal the splits in society. She reflected on the tension between the science of medicine with its prerequisites of objectivity and measurement and the elemental human need for self expression through artistic mediums. “Both valuable, but we favour one over the other. We have these tensions between the self and society,” she said. “How do we heal the splits that affect us?” She expressed her great delight at being part of the teaching staff on a new art and healing programme for second year medics at UCT. “I never imagined that in my lifetime I’d be exploring the creative encounter and its relationship to healing with emerging doctors, exploring the possibilities for connecting the creative arts and medicine in this context.”

Hichens said the 2014 contest has already been announced. “We’re looking for stories of love and lust, stories with an element of sex and sensuality,” she said. Many of the contributors were present in the audience to raise a glass of wine to ongoing success of this remarkable publishing venture.

* * * * * * * *

Liesl Jobson (@LieslJobson) tweeted from the launch using #livebooks:















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Book details

  • Bloody Satisfied by Nechama Brodie, Peter Church, Anthony Ehlers, Luke Fiske, Megan Furniss, Dawn Garisch, Amy Heydenrych, Beth Hunt, Liam Kruger, Greg Lazarus, Siphiwo Mahala, Sandile Memela, Peter Merrington, T.O. Molefe, Jill Morsbach, Chris Nicholson, Yewande Omotoso, Andrew Salomon, Melissa Siebert, Anirood Singh, Roger Smith, Jo Stielau, Mncedise Thambe, Colin Ward, edited by Joanne Hichens
    Book homepage
    EAN: 9780987043733
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Bloody Satisfied: Short Story Anthology Launched

Bloody SatisfiedThe Book

The National Arts Festival and Mercury Books are pleased to announce the publication of Bloody Satisfied, and the winners of the inaugural Short Sharp Stories Awards for 2013. They were selected from more than 200 entries and are Dawn Garisch (Best Story), Roger Smith (Best Thriller), T.O. Molefe (Most Original Story) and Liam Kruger (Best New Voice).

The Short Sharp Stories anthology, Bloody Satisfied, includes twenty-four top stories, and is introduced with a rollicking foreword by Deon Meyer. It is a collection of thrilling twist-in-the-tale stories that make good on the ‘Bloody Satisfied’ promise: slick and sexy stories that brim with danger and elements of the sinister; sophisticated stories that focus on the subtler crimes of everyday life; smart stories that invert expectations and linger in the mind.

Award money totalling R35,000 will be presented to the four prize-winning stories at the official launch at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown during the month of July. This year’s judges are Sarah Lotz, Fred Khumalo and John Maytham. The editor is Joanne Hichens and the publisher is Tim Richman of Mercury (an imprint of Burnet Media).

The Short Sharp Stories Awards is a platform for both established and emerging writers in South Africa. The theme for next year’s anthology will be announced at the launch in July. The Awards are curated by Joanne Hichens at

About the National Arts Festival: The National Arts Festival, now in its 39th year, has proved its sustainability and has grown to be one of the leading arts festivals in Southern Africa. Its objectives are to deliver excellence; encourage innovation and development in the arts by providing a platform for both established and emerging South African artists; create opportunities for collaboration with international artists; and build new audiences. The 39th edition of the National Arts Festival will take place from 27 June to 7 July 2013.

The Contributors

Roger Smith, Yewande Omotso, Peter Church, Greg Lazarus, Nechama Brodie, Chris Nicholson, Osiame Molefe, Luke Fiske, Megan Furniss, Sandile Memela, Dawn Garisch, Peter Merrington, Siphiwo Mahala, Anthony Ehlers, Jill Morsbach, Liam Kruger, Amy Heydenrych, Beth Hunt, Anirood Singh, Andrew Salomon, Mncedise Thambe, Jo Stielau, Colin Ward and Melissa Siebert, with an afterword by Michael Stanley.

The Editor

Joanne Hichens is an author, editor, blogger at News24, and creative writing teacher at Rhodes University. Her novel Divine Justice, featuring PI Rae Valentine, was named a Top Ten Killer Thriller by the Sunday Times and a Top Ten LitNet Read for 2011. As editor, she compiled the short story collections Bad Company (the first SA collection of crime/thriller tales) and The Bed Book Of Short Stories (a collection of writing by Women of Africa).

Bloody Satisfied: Book information

Editor: Joanne Hichens

Foreword: Deon Meyer

ISBN / EAN: 9780987043733

RRP: R170

Publication date: June 2013

Imprint: Mercury

Publisher: Burnet Media

Distributor: Jacana

Subject: SA fiction

Note to book editors/reviewers:

Contact Stuart Hendricks or Amy Flatau for review copies, launch dates, interview requests, cover images or more information:

Stuart Hendricks:

Amy Flatau:

“It is a great pleasure to be associated with this book” – Deon Meyer

Book details

  • Bloody Satisfied by Nechama Brodie, Peter Church, Anthony Ehlers, Luke Fiske, Megan Furniss, Dawn Garisch, Amy Heydenrych, Beth Hunt, Liam Kruger, Greg Lazarus, Siphiwo Mahala, Sandile Memela, Peter Merrington, T.O. Molefe, Jill Morsbach, Chris Nicholson, Yewande Omotoso, Andrew Salomon, Melissa Siebert, Anirood Singh, Roger Smith, Jo Stielau, Mncedise Thambe, Colin Ward, edited by Joanne Hichens
    Book homepage
    EAN: 9780987043733
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Burnet Media authors have a jol in Jozi

Bitter Pill Divine JusticeThis article first appeared in the Cape Times on the 27th of February.

Jozi sprawls. it never ends, or that’s the way it seems, driving along heavily trafficked highways and byways.

On the Great Northern Book Tour, recently embarked on by fellow Capetonian author Peter Church and myself, my navigatorial skills left much to be desired. When one takes a wrong turn in Jozi, there’s no mountain to set you straight.

Since Jozi is also dangerous, my job then was to keep an eye out for hijackers who might sneak up on us while Peter regularly pulled off the road to stare at the BlackBerry GPS.

Making sense of how to get through Morningside, Hyde Park, Rosebank, Killarney, Cresta, the equivalent of the established suburbs of Cape Town, Peter Church was all action. ‘Let’s do it. Places to go, people to see.’ The aim of the book tour was not only to do a launch at a book venue called Skoobs – that’s books
spelled backwards – but to visit ten stores in one day, to chat to book store stalwarts and to sign our crime-thriller fiction titles.

Not having visited Joburg in years, I was fully prepared to slag off the city as a Gomorrah. But the closest we came to danger was when I disappeared into a shoe store at the Hyde Park Mall and Peter Church came after me. With that glint in his eye, the schedule clutched in his hand like a cocked gun. ‘We’re not gonna get it right if you keep on wandering into shops!’ What woman isn’t difficult to manage when the sales are on, I ask? We were back to rushing along the tiled passages past great deals to get to the next Exclusives, or Estoril, or Independent.

During insightful moments in those book stores, connecting with sellers ‘in the field’, we commiserated about the decline of fiction sales and the downer that Exclusive Books is coming up for a third round of retrenchments. We experienced exhilaration – all our copies sold! And despair – but not reordered.

It’s still an issue to me that book stores don’t do themselves more favours, that they aren’t more proactive. Where are the notice boards pinned with reviews? Where are the shelves stacked with recommended reads? The precious signed copies on display? Do publishers and books store managers liaise at all, I wondered? It’s all too hit and miss. There simply doesn’t seem to be enough vision, or effort to entice readers, especially to try SA fare.

But whether staff had been on payroll for two days or twenty-five years, they agreed books – the hard copy kind – will survive. Kindle is convenient, but a book is tactile, reassuring to hold. And whichever way one reads, people need stories.

Driving towards Montecasino where Skoobs is situated, with Peter worshipping the GPS, I got my own back. ‘I assure you, Jo,’ he insisted, ‘Montecasino is just off Malibongwe Drive. All we need to do is keep going.’ Half an hour later, with my female instinct insisting we’d end up in Bloemfontein before too long, I risked winding down my window and asked directions. Peter smiled sheepishly, manoeuvred across lanes, adjusting our course.

The most unlikey place for a book store has to be smack in the middle of a casino. I felt a touch disoriented as I always do when leaving the light for the dark. I imagined a sort of SA Oceans Eleven going down in our home-grown den of iniquity. Then reckoned if crime writers are to hang out in any book store, this would be the one.

Skoobs, triple volume Temple to the Book, is worth a visit. With leather sofas to kick back in, hammocks to stretch out in for comfort, with a man-sized fish tank on the ground floor, a champagne bar on the top level, it’s opulent, the veritable Theatre of Books it claims to be.

So as Prez Zuma danced the State of the Nation shuffle, we remembered the underbelly. We demand constantly that government take seriously our right to safety, a promise of our constitution! As every moment we protect ourselves from crime, then crime-thriller novels – this was our message – are at the cutting edge of literature, with enough in theme and subject matter to be debated by the brightest of minds.

Touching down in Cape Town, thankful that I’d survived the jol through slick Jozi malls, I checked out the headlines of a local rag: Vrou strangled in mosque backyard; Cop closing in on perv killer; Three cape Russian mafia bosses in court. The Daily Voice, as ever, was living up to its slogan ons skrik vir niks!

Suddenly it all felt safer under the fake stars of Montecasino, security around, sipping sparkling wine and toasting to good books.

Peter Church is author of Bitter Pill and Joanne Hichens is author of Divine Justice. Listen to a podcast of Joanne chatting to Jonathan Duguid of UCT Radio.

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