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Wordsetc Journal

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Archive for the ‘Feature’ Category

Wordsetc Issue 9: Lewis Nkosi

Wordsetc 9: The Lewis Nkosi Edition

“He did not suffer fools gladly and hated ‘triumphalist’ and ‘nationalistic’ propagation of literature and other arts that lacked sincerity and theoretical vigour. He had an immense understanding of literature as a craft and an expression of a people’s experience.” – Sandile Ngidi, Lewis Nkosi’s local agent for his last book, Mandela’s Ego.

The ninth edition of Wordsetc is out. It leads with a heartfelt profile of Lewis Nkosi ,who died late last year. Nkosi was the last of the much-celebrated crew of Drum journalists of the 1950s. After Drum, he went on to conquer the world of academia, lecturing posts at various universities during his exile from South Africa. He is regarded as a perceptive, if sometimes pugnacious, essayist and literary critic who had no qualms speaking his mind. His most famous book is Mating Birds, an explosive novel about miscegenation that won both praise and criticism. In this warts-and-all profile Nkosi comes alive as a man with a bohemian streak and a man of letters who relished a good intellectual fight. Early in 2008 he exclusively wrote a weighty essay for Wordsetc on how he writes. We are proud and humbled to feature it for the first time in this current edition.

The edition’s other contents are equally absorbing. Mike Sager, our California-based editor at large and novelist, goes to a banquet in honour of Gay Talese, a pioneer of New Journalism. Amanda Patterson reflects on her writing career and how she started her successful writing course. Meanwhile, Kimon Neophyte assesses Tolstoy’s legacy a hundred years after his death, while Pumla Dineo Gqola delves into slave memory and how it affects South Africa today. Matthew Freemantle relives the horror of a bus ride from Dar es Salaam to Johannesburg with two border jumpers. Cynthia Jele tells us how she writes her novels while Prof Kole Omotoso looks at Nigerian literature fifty years after independence. Botswana novelist Lauri Kubuitsile relates the experience of taking up an exceptional writers’ residency in Egypt. There’s also a delightful short story by Carly Brown. In our appraisal section Joe Thloloe pays tribute to Alf Kumalo, a world-renowned photographer he describes as “a poet with a camera”.


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Profile on Wordsetc at Rhodes U Online

Wordsetc making the news at Rhodes University, my alma mater:

Mr Phakama Mbonambi visited his alma mater on Wednesday, 10 November to present a seminar about his brainchild, Wordsetc, a literary journal for which he is the publishing editor.

As the fourth and final of the Spring Seminar Series at the Rhodes English Department co-hosted by the School of Journalism and Media Studies, visiting lecturer Dr Lizzy Attree said Mr Mbonambi balances his fulltime job as the sub-editor at the Sunday Times with his Flamenco publishing company which publishes Wordsetc. She also mentioned Mbonambi‘s involvement in the new Zulu edition of the Sunday Times, “which was born this weekend”.

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New Edition of Wordsetc for the Jozi Book Fair

The new edition of Wordsetc – on soccer and literature – is coming out tomorrow. It’s on soccer and literature. It’ll be on sale for the first time at the Jozi Book Fair in Museum Africa, Newtown, this weekend (Aug 7, 8 & 9). If you a subscriber, it’ll hit your mailbox very, very soon.

If you would like to subscribe mail us on

Thanks for your constant support.


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Crime fiction: Seventh edition of Wordsetc hits bookshelves

Wordsetc 7 Featuring (Margie Orford)

The seventh edition of Wordsetc, South Africa’s foremost literary journal, has just reached the shelves! The publication continues to showcase the best of South African literature. This time around it focuses on crime fiction as a theme. Guest edited by author and editor Joanne Hichens the edition explores the ins and out of the genre, the motivation of crime writers to write crime fiction, and takes a look too at real-life crime in our society.

Read all about Margie Orford’s success – how she makes crime pay – with her Clare Hart series, in the main profile by Sam Beckbessinger.

There are also illuminating essays by writers such as Hichens, Jassy Mackenzie, Sarah Lotz, Richard Kunzmann, Roger Smith, Helen Moffett, Andrew Brown, Justice Malala, Emma Chen, Thembelani Ngenelwa and Megan Voysey-Braig. It’s a feast of reading for the literati or those who simply can’t get enough of South African literature.

Contents at a glance:


Personal notes: First loves: Justice Malala remembers the crime thrillers of his youth

Essay: Of heroes and villains: Jassy Mackenzie sizes up different characters in krimis

Real life: With best intentions: Andrew Brown on the humiliation of an innocent man

Feature: Oscar replies: The intrigue of Bubbles Schroeder’s murder continues by Carla Chait

Profile: The queen of crime fiction: Margie Orford lets the blood flow on her pages by Sam Beckbessinger

Essay: A little bit of ultraviolence : Richard Kunzmann finds it unavoidable, even necessary

Essay: Community matters: Novelist Joanne Hichens guards her neighbourhood

Essay: Sex and crime: The portrayal of prostitution in local crime novels by Nora Krüger

Essay: Fictional justice: Sarah Lotz, writer of Exhibit A, ruminates on the growth of the legal thriller

Real life: A letter to my killer: Writer Thembelani Ngenelwa relives the day he was shot and left dead

Real life: Crimes of passion: Poet Fungisayi Sasa ponders this ugly British stain

Perspectives: Crime and punishment: Five South Africans offer their views on the scourge of crime, as told to Phakama Mbonambi


Letters: How readers feel about us

Fiction: Burning A short story by Megan Voysey-Braig

Book reviews & etc

A look at the latest local and international reads

Appraisal: A man of our times: How Deon Meyer revived the local crime thriller

Fiction: Poppy A short story by Helen Moffett

How I write: My life of crime: Crime writer Roger Smith examines the “what ifs” in his stories


Travel: Up the River Niger: Joanne Rushby journeys to Timbuktu the hard way

Travel: A taste of Russia: Bronwyn McLennan’s enchanting visit

Food & drink: Served up the Chinese way: Emma Chen on her life, love for good food and her new book


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Subscription is R170 for four editons.

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Wordsetc Issue no. 6 Featuring Imraan Coovadia is Here

Wordsetc 6

High Low In-between“Coovadia’s work hardly shies away from including troubling contemporary issues, including the inevitable twinning of race and political life in South Africa (and the myriad hues in which this link appears); the ambiguous position of Indians living outside of the Subcontinent – their ability to fit between the seams of discord, as well as irritate all sides of a given conflict; and the necessary criminal elements that help forge the bonds within such in-between societies, ensure survival for the time being, and foment plans of escape when necessary.” – M. Neelika Jayawardane

This sixth edition of Wordsetc, South Africa’s foremost literary journal, is out. Hot on the heels of a fantastic edition that looked at the iconic Nadine Gordimer, the latest edition continues to showcase the best of South African literature. It leads with novelist Imraan Coovadia, a young writer on a mission. He also teaches creative writing at the English Department at the University of Cape Town. He has just written his third book, High Low In-between. We explore what makes him tick as a writer, the themes he explores, his literary influences and even the music he listens to.

The rest of the contents are also sizzling.

Contents at a glance

The main profile is on novelist Imraan Coovadia, author of the recently published High Low In-between. We explore his work, the ambiguities that he tackles about Indians in the country.

In the Personal Notes section, activist Zachie Achmat relives the days of his imprisonment at the age of 15 for political activism (“My Father’s Touch”). He has bittersweet memories of his father. A touching read.

Over the years advertising icon Alistair King of King James Advertising has amassed a special collection of rare books. In an eloquent and humorous essay he tells why he frequents second-hand bookstores in search of that rare book (“The Collector”).

Award-winning journalist Kevin Bloom tells us about motivation behind writing Ways of Staying, a book that takes an unflinching view at the state of the South Africa. Some may describe the book as bleak, but deep down, Kevin makes a case of being a realist (“The Realist”).

Literary critic and writer Karina Magdalena Szczurek profiles seven of our top writers in South Africa. She specifically looks at how these writers hang on to their full-time jobs and still manage to write creatively (“Writers’ other lives”). A very illuminating feature.

In the Appraisal section, researcher and academic Joy Watson offers a rich narrative about the legacy of Ruth First as a writer and champion of social change (“Her words”).

For the past two years Victor Dlamini has been taking gorgeous photography of some of our remarkable artists, including writers. Across a spread of six pages, he shows readers his awesome work (“Capturing creative spirits”).

In the How I Write section, acclaimed novelist Angelina Sithebe details how the writing business happens for her.

Lindiwe Nkutha’s wonderful play called Woman In Transit is captivating in telling of a young woman from the countryside who comes to Johannesburg in the 1950s to find a city full of degradation, and her ultimate defiant stand against injustice. We publish an extract of the play.

In our new Poetry section, Seni Seneviratne, an acclaimed poet and performance artist from Britain, tells us about the central role poetry plays in her life.

In our Bookshelf Series, Absa’s marketing head Happy Ntshingila talks about the writing of his new book Black Jerusalem in which he reminisces about the heady days of crafting winning advertising pitches in his earlier life as a founding partner at Herdbouys advertising, the first black-owned advertising agency in the country.

There’s all this and more – literary travel, short story, book reviews, a restaurant review and listings pages. As with previous five editions, this issue is jam-packed. It will satisfy literature lovers and those keen to know more about the state of South African literature at the moment.

For an interview with publishing editor Phakama Mbonambi, or to excerpt any of the stories from Wordsetc, please contact him on 083 287 1955 or

See website at or Facebook group called Wordsetc – A South African Literary Journal.


Wordsetc is available at bookshops (Exclusive Books, CNA and many independent bookstores such as Boekehuis, Kalk Bay Books, Clarke’s Bookstore, Protea Books and The Book Lounge) and various alternative distribution points such as DVD Gurus, Absolutely Fabulous DVD Nouveau (Morningside), Service Station Café and Wild Olive Food Store (Greenside) and Michael Stevenson Gallery (Cape Town).

The journal retails for R49.95. Subscription is R170 for four editions. Back copies are available. Just write to

Book details

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Wordsetc Issue Four Coming Up!

Wordsetc Four

The next edition of Wordsetc looks at – wait for it – Barack Obama. We’re looking at him through the lens of literature.

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Es’kia Mphahlele’s Last Interview

Wordsetc 2nd Issue

Es’kia Mphahlele, a giant of African literature, passed away last night. Wordsetc had the privilege to visit him at his home in Lebowakgomo to talk about his storied past, famous works and the state of South African literature. It was his last major interview, and we bring you a portion of it here. May his soul rest in peace.

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