Yann Martel’s LIFE OF PI

Yann Martel’s Life of Pi was rejected by at least five London publishing houses before being accepted by Knopf Canada (who published the book in September 2001) and in the UK it was picked up by a relatively small publishing house, Canongate.

In 2002 Life of Pi went on to win the Man Booker Prize for Fiction and Yann, and his book, instantly became recognisable worldwide.

The protagonist, Pi Patel, an Indian boy from Pondicherry, explores issues of spirituality and practicality from an early age. He survives 227 days after a shipwreck while stranded on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

Yann Martel said in one interview,

“The theme of this novel can be summarized in three lines. Life is a story. You can choose your story. And a story with an imaginative overlay is the better story.”

The film adaptation (directed by one of my favourites, Ang Lee) started showing in South African cinemas this month.  To view the movie trailer, click HERE.


BLOG, a short story from Barbara Erasmus

Barbara Erasmus has uploaded another short story on her website.  This one is titled BLOG.

Here is a little taster:

I’m early.

I slide into the parking slot selected during my daylight survey of the prospective hunting ground. My quarry will be clearly visible when he walks up to the designated wine-bar. I have contingency plans to fade into the darkness if he doesn’t look as appealing as he did in his photograph. Thank God I had the foresight not to include one of myself. He won’t know who I am, even if he catches a glimpse of me lurking in the shadows. I couldn’t bear it if he was the one to turn away in disappointment. I look at my watch. Still ten minutes until the appointed hour. It seems like an eternity. I don’t know whether to sue Woolworths or Blogdate for reducing me to this state of teenage angst.

I fidget. It’s hot in the car. Perhaps I should sue summer, along with Woolworths and Blogdate. It was summer’s bare-legged, flimsy expectations which triggered my current crisis.  I’d broken three zips trying to force my way into last year’s wardrobe. I had no option but to browse through Woolworth’s summer range.

I can so relate to Woolworths’ mirrors, the NEED for carrot cake, and the angst of meeting someone new!  To read Barbara’s short story click HERE.


My fascination with maps …

When I was knee-high to a grasshopper and couldn’t even read a word, it didn’t stop me from being fascinated with books.  I would endlessly page through our big World Atlas, and make up travel stories that would have made Bill Bryson proud.

And then a friend invited me to her house, and she had a world globe on her bedroom bookcase (I was so jealous!) . I spent many hours spinning that globe, and making up further travel adventure stories for whatever country my finger eventually stopped on.

My fascination with maps has not abated, and I still take great joy in looking at them.

In the opening pages of Martinique Stilwell’s sailing memoir, Thinking Up A Hurricane, there is a gorgeous map showing Vingila’s circumnavigation voyage of the world.  Read Martinique’s blog HERE about the ups and downs of writing a memoir, and how one of the most enjoyable parts of creating the book was working on the map with James Berrange.

Vingila’s Voyage


Barbara Erasmus – Launches her Website

Photo of Barbara ErasmusThe wonderful South African author, Barbara Erasmus, has just launched her own website – www.barbaraerasmus.com.

She is the author of Below Luck Level, Chameleon, Kaleidoscope and Even with Insects. Although the topics of her books (autism, career choice, white collar crime and Alzheimer’s) are hard issues to tackle, Barbara writes with delightful charm and wit, which make her books page-turners.

She has also published her short story, The Pushmi-Pullyu Equation, on her website.  Take a few minutes out of your day to give it a read – it is wonderful, irreverent and funny! Click HERE to read her short story.


Bel-Ami – From Book to Movie

In 1885 Bel-Ami was first written in French, by the author Guy de Maupassant, and the English translation was published in 1903.

Here is a summary of the story-line: Young, attractive and very ambitious, George Duroy, known to his friends as Bel-Ami, is offered a job as a journalist on La Vie francaise and soon makes a great success of his new career. But he also comes face to face with the realities of the corrupt society in which he lives – the sleazy colleagues, the manipulative mistresses and wily financiers – and swiftly learns to become an arch-seducer, blackmailer and social climber in a world where love is only a means to an end.

The movie adaptation of Bel-Ami releases nation-wide today, starring, amongst others, Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas and Christina Ricci. Click HERE to watch the film trailer.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit is a classic in children’s literature, and the author, J.R.R. Tolkien, wrote it for his own children.  Since 1937, when the book was first published, it has never been out of print!

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.

And today, the film adaptation of The Hobbit (Part 1), releases in cinemas nationwide, with Part 2 expected to be released next year.  Click HERE to watch the film trailer.

I am looking for book champions …

I want to find people – just every day ordinary people – who love to read.  Who will champion a deserving book.  Who will help get word-of-mouth started by discussing, blogging, Facebook-ing, tweeting, and emailing everyone in their circle – be they friends, family, acquaintances, colleagues, book club members, the local community newspaper, a child’s teacher, the hairdresser and the local bookshop who does not stock the book.

What do you get out of it? A free book, and the pleasure of discovering an author and being instrumental in the marketing of his/her book.


If so, click on this link to the BOOK CHAMPIONS PAGE to read how you can get involved:  http://www.ilovebooks.co.za/book-champions/

South African authors, S.L. Grey …

Congratulations to our local authors, Sarah Lotz and Louis Greenberg (the duo who write as S.L. Grey), on The Ward cracking The Independents’ UK list of top science fiction, fantasy and horror books of the year.

The compiler of the list, David Barnett, said, ‘Set in the same twilit subterranean world, it equals – if not trumps – the disturbing, creepy horror of their first, while shining a harsh light on real life.’

The Ward tells the story of Lisa, a plastic surgery addict with severe self-esteem issues. The only hospital that will let her go under the knife is New Hope: a grimy, grey-walled facility dubbed ‘No Hope’ by its patients.

Farrell is a celebrity photographer. His last memory is a fight with his fashion-model girlfriend and now he’s woken up in No Hope, alone. Needle marks criss-cross his arms. A sinister nurse keeps tampering with his drip. And he’s woken up blind…

Panicked and disorientated, Farrell persuades Lisa to help him escape, but the hospital’s dimly lit corridors only take them deeper underground – into a twisted mirror world staffed by dead-eyed nurses and doped-up orderlies.

Down here, in the Modification Ward, Lisa can finally have the face she wants…but at a price that will haunt them both forever.

To view the complete list of top science fiction, fantasy and horror books, visit this site:  http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/ios-books-of-the-year-2012-scifi-fantasy-and-horror-8395769.html



My Q&A with Litnet

LitNet is a leading South African multicultural online journal, and Naomi Meyer, their content manager, asked me these questions:

  1. It is with great interest that I looked at your press release regarding the discoverability of authors and books. I agree with you: first the author must produce something brilliant. But is this not enough?
  2. How did you recognise a gap in the market for this service?
  3. Is the marketing side of books and authors not the responsibility of the publishing company?
  4. After you have created the social media platforms for the author, what happens next? What must the author do then?
  5. Should authors post only about their products (books) or should they share personal stories about themselves as well on social media platforms?
  6. Any specific books published long ago which could still benefit from your service?

To read the answers, visit this link on Litnet’s website: http://www.litnet.co.za/Article/discoverability-and-the-author


O’s second short story writing competition

O, The Oprah Magazine is offering its readers yet another chance to make their dream of seeing their name in print a reality – their annual short story writing competition is in its second year, and this year’s theme is ‘CHANGE’.

The judges have just been announced:

Jodi Picoult, author of 15 novels, including bestsellers Nineteen Minutes, Change of Heart and My Sister’s Keeper.

Gcina Mhlophe, internationally acclaimed author, poet and storyteller. She has received honorary doctorates from the London Open University, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pretoria University and Fort Hare, for her contributions to literature.

Jenny Crwys-Williams is a print and broadcasting journalist. She has worked as woman’s editor of The Natal Mercury, and is the former Johannesburg Bureau Chief of Cosmopolitan magazine. Jenny currently hosts a weekday afternoon show on Radio 702.

Fred Khumalo is opinion and insight Editor of The Sunday Times. The journalism graduate is very familiar with writing competitions. He was a runner-up for the Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award in 1991, and his novel Bitches’ Brew was joint winner of the 2006 European Union Literary Award.

I believe everyone has a story to tell, and there are so many talented, undiscovered writers out there. Whether you’ve been writing all your life, or if you’ve only just started, this competition is about creating and communicating. Having your story printed in O is just a part of the reward. Samantha Page, O’s Editor

You need to write a fictional story between 1,500 and 2,000 words (focused on the theme of ‘change’) and submit it to the magazine – if you are interested, put pen to paper now because the closing date is 21 December 2012.

For all the details visit the Associated Media Publishing website – http://www.assocmags.co.za/news/detail/130/os-second-annual-short-story-writing-competition