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Centre for Creative Arts

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Two Panels, Four Writers: Makholwa, Orford, Langa and Van Niekerk at the Time of the Writer

Angela Makholwa, Karabo Kgoleng and Margie Orford Mandla Langa, Sally Ann Murray and Marlene van Niekerk

The first session on Wednesday night at the 12th Time of the Writer was titled “Spellbound, the art of engaging the reader”. It focused on crime writing. Angela Makholwa, first time author of crime novel Red Ink, spoke to Margie Orford, author of Like Clockwork and Blood Rose.

Their discussion was led by Karabo Kgoleng, SAFM radio journalist. Kgoleng asked whether they equated crime writing with fairytale writing. Orford believes that like fairytales, crime novels aim to restore order in a dysfunctional society.

Makholwa thought that characters in crime novels can be made intense and extreme, as in fairytales. “Crime novels don’t only entertain, they also ask ‘why?’ This propels them forward to ask moral questions,” Orford said.

She warned on the dangers of depicting violence, saying that the author must be in the character’s heart to give them authenticity and dignity. Makholwa emphasised the importance of re-enacting violent scenes with vitality.

After the break Mandla Langa, author of The Lost Colours of the Chameleon and Marlene van Niekerk, author of Triomf and Agaat, appeared in a panel mediated by Sally-Ann Murray from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The theme they were addressing was “What are the imperatives of South African fiction?”

Langa fiercely refused to define his book as an allegory, saying rather that it was fantastical. Van Niekerk said that in her writing she tries to “rattle reference, from greedy vanity”.

Langa explained that the humour in his book works as a backdrop to emphasise the bizarreness of the quest for power. Van Niekerk said her response to living in an increasingly violent South Africa was the urge to write beautiful lyric poetry about “stones and leaves”.

On a more somber note she announced that her next book examines issues of gender and sexuality which have been misrepresented in South Africa’s past.


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