CityPress - - Voices -

Af­fluenza, the first col­lec­tion of short sto­ries from nov­el­ist Niq Mh­longo, will be pub­lished by Kwela in March this year, and if the cover art is any­thing to go by, it is go­ing to be a thing of beauty. Mh­longo re­leased snip­pets of the book on Face­book last week in re­sponse to the Penny Spar­row and Chris Hart on­line racism rows, ac­com­pa­nied by this state­ment: “Yes­ter­day I was do­ing the very fi­nal proof­read­ing of Af­fluenza. At the same time, we black peo­ple of South Africa were be­ing in­sulted on so­cial me­dia; be­ing called mon­keys by the likes of Penny Spar­row and Chris Hart. This tempted me to give you a taste of some of the is­sues ex­plored in Af­fluenza.” The SA Theatre Mag­a­zine, new­gen­er­a­tion lo­cal pub­li­ca­tion, was launched on­line this week. It fea­tures list­ings, pro­files, in­ter­views with the likes of Is­mail Ma­homed of the Na­tional Arts Fes­ti­val and Jade Bow­ers (this year’s Stan­dard Bank Young Artist Award win­ner for theatre), and in-depth sur­veys of the theatre in­dus­try at large. Founder Vian­ney Henry Farmer told City Press this week: “I hope this mag­a­zine will in­spire artists to con­tinue to cre­ate ex­cit­ing works, for the reader to make pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tions to theatre and for South Africa to recog­nise the value and im­por­tance of its theatre – be­cause theatre in South Africa is alive.” Fe­bru­ary sees the de­but of the Bare Lit fes­ti­val, which aims to “em­power those voices that are so of­ten si­lenced in the lit­er­ary main­stream”. At the two-day fes­ti­val in Lon­don, which has been mainly crowd­funded, events range from what it means to be a writer of colour to­day to panel dis­cus­sions on top­ics such as “Se­cond­gen­er­a­tion po­ets in ex­ile” and “Sci-fi vs Afro­fu­tur­ism”. When Spread the Word, a re­port into diver­sity in pub­lish­ing that ap­peared last year, found that just 4% of writ­ers at three ma­jor Bri­tish lit­er­ary fes­ti­vals were black, African or Mid­dle East­ern au­thors, “it seemed im­per­a­tive to do some­thing”, one of the or­gan­is­ers said.

– Gar­reth Van Niek­erk

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