Nick Mulgrew (1990 - ) was born in Durban to British parents. He attended school at Crawford College North Coast and continued his education at Rhodes University where he obtained a BA in English and Journalism & Media Studies. He later completed his BA Honours in Media Theory & Practice at the University of Cape Town. Mulgrew is currently completing an MA in English Language & Literature.
Mulgrew has worked as a journalist, print designer, typesetter, and critic. However, his work in creative fiction as a publisher and writer has been his primary focus. Mulgrew is the founding associate editor of Prufrock magazine, the Deputy Chair of Short Story Day Africa and the publisher of uHlanga, a poetry press.
In terms of his literary output Mulgrew is the author of two books; a collection of poetry called “the myth of this is that we're all in this together” and a collection of short stories entitled “Stations”. He also co-edited Water: New Short Fiction from Africa, a collection with Karina Szczurek, which was released in 2015.
His works have received a positive reception. Matt Birkinshaw described Water as “an arresting and memorable collection of innovative short fiction from Africa with [an] eye towards social issues”. Karin Schimke expressed a similar sentiment in her Financial Mail review. She highlighted the efforts of the editors “for providing not only a platform for African voices, but a deeply satisfying reading experience”. Karina Szczurek praised Mulgrew for his work in Stations, describing him as possessing “acuity and a perfectly pitched voice”. In her review of Stations, Diane Awerbuck appreciated the way the stories are “so affecting because they are high-concept, but their prose also delivers various bangs for your buck”.
Short stories from Stations have also garnered Mulgrew several accolades since its release. "Posman" was shortlisted for the 2015 White Review Prize. “Turning” was the winner of the 2014 National Arts Festival Short Sharp Stories Award while “Ponta do Ouro” was longlisted for the Twenty in 20 Project. Amongst his other achievements, Mulgrew was awarded a Silver BASA Journalism Award (2015) and selected as a judge for the PEN SA Student Writing Prize (2016).
Mulgrew currently lives in Cape Town. He is working on his first novel.
Photo: Chris de Beer.
Excerpt from the short story, "Gala Day", which is part of his debut work, Stations (2016):
Here is the mouth of the oHlanga, where the reed beds stretch for miles. See how easily the world unfolds here, through the hill’s cleft, along the eternal coil of the M4. Pass the old La Mercy Hotel and its pastel trim. See the mangroves on the river’s edge. Find the cerise of the houses in the old forest.
We lived childhoods of routine. A bus taken in the soft beginnings of the day, from the shelter by the Post Office, the one bejewelled with gang graffiti, sheltered by the decades-old palms. For five years, we were the only two picked up here. You lived in a duplex on Marine Drive with your grandmother. You wove through the taxi rank on the way, buying chips from the vendors. Every morning we sat on the bench, hips touching, sharing packets of murkhoo, the mynahs hopping at our heels. There was the sea air, the women speaking in Zulu, the earphoned joggers in polyester, peeling up off the promenade. You spoke about the football, fidgeted on your phone. You smelt of Lacoste cologne: you were always freshly showered. The gel in your hair was never quite set.
I never properly understood thunee. I never understood how it worked – why you used only twenty-four cards of the deck, why you kept score with the sixes, why a nine was worth more than a king. I never understood why you swore so much when you played it on the bus with your friends, using a seat torn out of its frame and balanced between your laps as a table. I never understood the palm-slapping plastic, your biting your father’s chain, your rage so early in the day.
I never understood why you never looked at the ocean as we traced it, why you never thought about what was there, over the sea’s shallow curve. If you’d asked, I suppose I might’ve told you Madagascar, perhaps, or Mauritius, although that was more north – I could never be sure of the trajectory. Maybe Perth and its high-rises, where your uncle lived. Perhaps he looked out too, from the other side of the Indian Ocean, and we might have unknowingly met gazes, if only for a second. I wondered about what we might have seen if only our eyes could see far enough. I heard a kestrel would be able to read newsprint from two kilometres in the air, if it could read. These were things I might have told you.
2015. the myth of this is that we're all in this together. uHlanga Press: Cape Town.
2015. Water: New Short Fiction from Africa (co-edited with Karina Szczurek). Short Story Day Africa.
2016. Stations. David Philip: Cape Town.