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A Literary Guide to KwaZulu-Natal PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 17 October 2017 17:39

We are very pleased to announce that A Literary Guide to KwaZulu-Natal, by Niall McNulty and Lindy Stiebel, has just been published by UKZN Press. Read a few pages HERE and read more on the authors HERE.

KwaZulu-Natal is culturally rich, offering a wide range of writers – writing mainly in English and Zulu – who are linked through their lives and their writing to this province of South Africa. The writers include, to name just a few, Alan Paton, Roy Campbell, Lewis Nkosi, Ronnie Govender, Wilbur Smith, Daphne Rooke, Credo Mutwa and Gcina Mhlophe. And how better to understand a writer than to know about the places they are linked to? For example, who, after reading the lyrical opening sentences of Paton’s famous book, Cry, the Beloved Country (1948) has not wanted to see this scene in reality?

There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass-covered and rolling, and they are lovely beyond any singing of it.

A Literary Guide to KwaZulu-Natal introduces you to the regions and writers through word and image, leading you imaginatively through this beautiful province. This could include following the route a fictional character charts in a novel, visiting particular settings from a story or tracking down the places linked to a writer, whether a birthplace, home, burial site or significant setting. Literary tourists are interested in how places have influenced writing and at the same time how writing has created place. This is also a way of reflecting upon and understanding historic and contemporary identities in a changing cultural and political South African landscape.

New Arrival: KZN Literary Tourism welcomes its German offspring! PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 10 October 2017 18:48

Have book, will travel has been the project’s motto for some time but now the invitation is being extended to German lovers of South African literature. Dr Gisela Feurle - based in Bielefeld, Germany - a longtime friend of KZN Literary Tourism, has created a German language version of our website, in cooperation with the project leader, Lindy Stiebel. Her aim with this website is to attract “German-speakers interested in literature, in travelling and in South Africa. It wants to animate them to discover Durban and KwaZulu-Natal and its rich and exciting literature!”.

To achieve this aim, Gisela has translated three of the Trails into German, adding texts that are already translated into German, and extending these by translating selected extracts of KZN works into German. As she says: “This is against the backdrop that not so many books connected to this region are available in German translation and in print – with wonderful exceptions of course”. The three trails Dr Feurle has used are the Grey Street Writers’ Trail, the INK (Inanda, Ntuzuma, KwaMashu) Writers’ Trail and the North Coast Writers’ Trail. In a new section the German website, linked to its ‘parent’ site, also chose places of particular interest to tourists, like the Durban beaches and the harbour, to present texts and authors connected to these locales. This allows readers to immerse themselves in the local environment and its literature and hopefully stimulates them to get hold of these works. In addition, the German site provides the necessary background information to local literature, to the history of Durban and the province more widely.


Green remembered hills PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 19 February 2017 17:39

By Stephen Coan

With Hazara – Elegy for an African Farm John Conyngham (a featured author on the KZN Literary Tourism website) has broken the long silence following the publication in 1998 of his novel The Lostness of Alice; the final book in a thematically connected trilogy, its predecessors being The Arrowing of the Cane and The Desecration of the Graves.

The epigraph to The Lostness of Alice, drawn from Karen Blixen’s Out of Africa, ‘If I know a song of Africa does Africa know a song of me?’, could also apply to Hazara, an exploration of white identity and belonging in Africa, more specifically that of the English-speaking South African. Part memoir, part history, part personal meditation, Hazara is the story of a sugar farm north of Durban and the family who lived on it for five decades during the last century.

The Arrowing of the Cane was set on the same farm, or if not the same, certainly its palimpsest, where owner James Colville, haunted by a colonial past and a claustrophobic present, knocks back the J&B as cane fields burn in the night and he feels compelled to write a first-person account articulating his predicament.

The Arrowing of the Cane, which won several awards, and in its British edition drew praise from, among others, Colm Tóibín, was dedicated to ‘Mia Woollam, in memory’. When Mia (née Keith-Fraser) married James Woollam in 1924 her father bought her a farm as a dowry. Its undulating hills planted with vivid green fields of cane were offset by the blue of the Indian Ocean in the distance. James named the farm Hazara as a reminder of his service in the 106th Hazara Pioneers during World War One; the Hazaras being one of the peoples of Afghanistan drawn under the umbrella of the British Raj.

The shadow of the imperial project is ever present in Hazara, as Conyngham explains in an author’s note: ‘(Hazara) is also the story of a diaspora of men and women who were borne across the globe on an imperial tide that has since receded. As a child and youth I caught the era’s afterglow, as one sees at twilight the salmon-pink suffusion of a sun that has already set.’

In time, Mia and James’s ownership of the farm was passed on to their adopted daughter Anne and her husband Mick Conyngham, the author’s parents.

The story of Mia and James, Anne and Mick, and their extended families, provides the warp and weft of time and memory at the heart of Hazara. Yes, there are the drinks on the veranda and the tennis parties, but behind such surface distractions Conyngham details the accidents, happy and tragic, that make up the real work of living: childhood deaths, abandoned marriages, adoptions, fractured families. Hopes, dreams, lives abruptly ended by two world wars. The relentless harvest of time.


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