Literary Generosity

Last night Wits Writing Centre hosted the launch of two Botsotso titles: 100 Papers by Liesl Jobson and Out of the Wreckage by Allan Kolski Horwitz. Guests were invited to participate in a discussion about the short-short story genre (which is the genre of both of these works) by Veronique Tadjo and Harry Kalmer.

The event really made me proud to be a writer – to be a ‘colleague’ of some of the most generous people I’ve encountered. In the intimate venue, around a large wooden table, Tadjo and Kalmer offered insight and nuggets of information about the genre and the renaissance of the short story, not only in South Africa but in the rest of the country. Questions from the floor focussed on the role of technology in maintaining a culture of reading and mention was made of Michelle Matthews’s (ex-Oshun) latest endeavour – A Novel Idea. Her innovation allows the reader to receive chapters of a novel smsed to them. 

Well-organised book launches can offer so much more than just book-signing opportunities and it’s a pity that Exclusive Books and most publishing houses don’t offer readers and writers a forum in which to experience these literary interactions. A recent event that I unfortunately could not attend was one put together by The Write Company that involved an evening of chocolate tasting and a talk by writer Lauren Liebenberg author of The Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and Jam. Creative events such as these deserve good attendance.

To build a culture of readers, South Africa needs a culture of writers – ones that interact and share their skill and their hopes and aspirations for the genre in which they write.

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