Sunday Times

Jacket Notes

- David Bris­tow Entertainment · Vanuatu · Jacana · The Knife · The Knife · Angola

My favourite say­ing about be­ing a writer is that it’s easy: you sim­ply sit down at your desk, make your­self com­fort­able, scroll in the imag­i­nary typ­ing pa­per then slit a wrist and let it all bleed out. I know this is true be­cause I have writ­ten (and had pub­lished) go­ing on 30 books. That’s more than Wil­bur Smith, though he gets big­ger ad­vances. I never planned to be­come a writer, I kind of stum­bled into it. What I was born for though, or be­came at a young age, was a com­pul­sive sto­ry­teller.

We didn’t know it at the time of grow­ing up but our mother was bipo­lar. We never knew if it would be the good or the evil mother that would come home each day. So I learned early that I could de­flect her rages by break­ing into a song-and-dance rou­tine. It worked so well my present part­ner calls me Os­car, as in “and the Os­car goes to ...” Some of her friends still think it’s my real name.

My first 20 or so books were mostly about travel and na­ture — as well as one about Soweto, where I worked for a while as a jour­nal­ist dur­ing the emer­gency ’80s, with pho­tog­ra­pher Peter Magubane.

For the past decade I’ve been col­lect­ing sto­ries about char­ac­ters who flit­ted across my life, or the pages of books, that make me think: WTF was that all about? Thus was born my idea for writ­ing a se­ries called Sto­ries from the Veld.

The first in the se­ries was ti­tled Run­ning Wild: The Story of Zulu, an African Stal­lion, pub­lished last year. It took me a year to re­search, a year to write, a year to re­write three times and then a fur­ther year to find a pub­lisher. I re­ceived 174 re­jec­tions from pub­lish­ers and agents around the world be­fore fi­nally get­ting a “yes” from Ja­cana Me­dia in good old Jozi.

The sec­ond in the se­ries, The Game Ranger, The Knife, The Lion and the Sheep, is about cu­ri­ous char­ac­ters from South­ern Africa past and present. In it you’ll find Kro­toa (pro­nounced Krotwa), a Khoi woman work­ing in the house­hold of the Van Riebeeck fam­ily in the 1650s. She has be­come a po­lit­i­cal foot­ball, knock­ing around is­sues such as colo­nial­ism, sex­ism, forced labour, forced sex labour, slav­ery, the demise of in­dige­nous cul­tures and all that mucky stuff.

You’ll meet Maria Mou­ton who, with the slaves Ti­tus van Ben­gal and For­tu­inn van An­gola, mur­dered her hus­band and were all tor­tured hor­ren­dously in the Cas­tle of Good Hope. There are ad­ven­tur­ers, artists, sci­en­tists, shamans, and even a few rain queens. LS

The Game Ranger, The Knife, The Lion, and The Sheep — 20 Tales About Cu­ri­ous Char­ac­ters from South­ern Africa by David Bris­tow, pub­lished by Ja­cana Me­dia, R240

 ??  ??
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa