With 2016 upon us we look back at some South African debut novels released in 2015:
With new books from Ivan Vladislavić, Henrietta Rose-Innes, Finuala Dowling and Christopher Hope, among others, there’s no denying some great South African fiction was produced in 2015 with debut authors igniting our hope for the future of South African literature.
With that in mind, we’ve gathered together the notable South African debut novels published this year.
A Slim, Green Silence by Beverly Rycroft:
Rycroft’s poetry collection, Missing, won the Ingrid Jonker Poetry Prize in 2012, and in 2011 she was awarded second prize in the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Competition.
Set in the small Eastern Cape town of Scheeperstown, A Slim, Green Silence describes a dead woman’s return to her home to fullfil an unknown purpose.
Dub Steps by Andrew Miller:
Miller’s debut novel won the 2015 Dinaane Debut Fiction Award in manuscript form, and was subsequently published by Jacana Media.
Dub Steps is set in Johannesburg in an alternative future where most of the inhabitants have disappeared, suddenly, inexplicably, and the remaining handful have to find each other and start again. Miller is a freelance writer, public speaker and performance poet based in Cape Town.
Recipes for Love and Murder: A Tannie Maria Mystery by Sally Andrew:
Recipes for Love and Murder was a global success before it had even gone to print. Last year’s Frankfurt Book Fair set off a bidding war for the manuscript, with rights being sold to three countries (UK, ANZ and SA) with a preempt in Canada as well. By 2016, the book will be available in 17 countries – and counting!
The book is a murder mystery with a difference, the lead character being Tannie Maria, an agony aunt from the Little Karoo whose life takes a sinister turn. Alexander McCall Smith calls it: “Vivid, amusing and immensely enjoyable … a triumph.”
The Seed Thief by Jacqui L’Ange:
Durban-born L’Ange is an award winning journalist and book reviewer, with an MA in Creative Writing from UCT, and her debut novel was eagerly anticipated.
The Seed Thief is a striking and richly imagined novel, moving from Table Mountain to the heart of Afro-Brazilian spiritualism, and the playlist that inspired L’Ange is well worth a listen.
At the launch of the novel, Henrietta Rose-Innes said: “It’s an eco-thriller about sea piracy and the preservation of our natural heritage; it’s also a personal story about a woman who is pursued by her own demons …”
This One Time by Alex van Tonder:
Van Tonder is a Cape Town-based copywriter and marketer, well known for her satirical blogs, including My Branded Life and Cape Town Girl. In 2011, Memeburn named her one of South Africa’s most influential women on Twitter (@alex_vantonder) in 2011 by Memeburn.
Her debut novel is about Jacob Lynch, a New York blogger who creates an outrageous and offensive alter-ago called Brodie Lomax, “a bit of a social media Frankenstein story”, according to the author.