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