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Review of Stranger by Sihle Ntuli PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 04 February 2016 13:34

Review by, Alan Muller

I first read about Sihle Ntuli and his debut collection of poetry on BooksLive in September of 2015. When Stranger landed in my hands roughly five months later, I was eager to read it since South African poetry collections are difficult to come by and those by emerging poets are even more challenging to get a hold of. The collection is published by Aerial Publishing, a community-based publisher in Grahamstown, South Africa. The striking cover painting titled “Twin Two” by Nigerian artist Victor Ehikhamenor further encouraged me to look into the collection.

The first two sections, “morning” and “midnight” open strongly as they are spatially grounded and reflect on the physicality of both Durban and KwaMashu. The opening piece, “kwa mashu f section bus stop”, sees commuters taking public transport and “travel to find what they can”. Some of these KwaMashu residents, though, “leave to never return”. The poem seems a tip-of-the-hat to Mongane Wally Serote’s famous “City Johannesburg” transposed to the context of postapartheid Durban. The poem “west street” sees commuters reach Durban central and reflects on pickpockets and crime in the city’s CBD and is particularly succinct and sharp, ending effectively with stolen jewellery being traded aboard public transport systems:

inside a taxi

a gold watch is sold

the colour matching

a familiar silence


Passing of Mark Behr (1963-2015) PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 30 November 2015 14:00

We were saddened this weekend to hear of the passing of Mark Behr. He was the author of three novels: The Smell of Apples, Embrace, Kings of Water. At the time of his passing he was 52 years old and was Professor of English Literature and Creative Writing at Rhodes College, Memphis, Tennessee. Read more about this remarkable novelist in his author profile.

Michael Cardo PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 27 November 2015 15:07

Michael Cardo (1977 - ) is a Durban-born writer and politician. He grew up in Botha’s Hill, and matriculated from Kearsney College in 1994. Cardo holds a BA (Summa Cum Laude) in English, French and History from the University of Natal, as well as an MPhil and PhD in History from the University of Cambridge, where he attended Trinity College on a Cambridge Commonwealth Trust Scholarship. His PhD thesis, awarded in 2003, explores the relationship between white “South Africanism” and liberalism in the first half of the twentieth century.

Cardo has been involved in politics since 2003, when he joined the political staff of the DA and served as a director of research for Tony Leon. He continued serving as the party’s national Director of Research between 2004 and 2006. He also worked as Helen Zille’s speechwriter on the 2009 election campaign. Between 2011 and 2014, Cardo worked in the Policy and Strategy Unit at the Department of Premier in the Western Cape Government, specialising in social policy and serving as the Director of Policy Research and Analysis.

In 2006, he was awarded a Visiting Research Fellowship at the Helen Suzman Foundation. It was during this time that he began writing a biography of the former SA Liberal Party leader, Peter Brown. The biography, Opening Men’s Eyes: Peter Brown and the Liberal Struggle for South Africa, was an attempt by Cardo to memorialize the activist and expose people to the important role he played in South African history.

Opening Men’s Eyes has received a positive reception with particular praise directed at the effort Cardo has made to capture his subject matter accurately. J.E. Spence described it as a “well written and closely argued biography” which provides “a splendid version of Brown’s life” (2010:76). On Cardo’s coverage of the friendship shared between Alan Paton and Brown, Spence lauded the "intelligently and sensitively” done account of their relationship (77). Steve Hayes awarded Opening Men’s Eyes four out of five stars with the assessment that “the character of Peter Brown that Michael Cardo captures is indeed the Peter Brown that I knew” (2011). Colin Gardner also appreciated the authenticity of Brown’s characterisation and lauded the “vivid and gripping detail” and rigorous research that went into the making of the biography (2011:121-122).

Cardo remains active in politics. He was elected to Parliament in 2014 and is the Shadow Minister of Economic Development. He is also the DA’s Constituency Head of the Overstrand Municipality, centred on Hermanus. In terms of his literary endeavors, Cardo would like to tackle the biographies of Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert and Helen Zille in future.


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