After reading Petina Gappah’s collection of short stories, I went straight onto another one – this time one that was a little more awkward to read on the train.
The Short Sharp Stories collection was drawn from submissions to the competition (which you can still enter until the end of November) in 2014. This was the second collection produced out of the competition. The first was a crime fiction theme and was called ‘Bloody Satisfied’.
The theme was ‘Adults Only’ and thus many of the stories focus on sex. They’re not all written by women, but in the spirit of this project, I only read the ones that were. The collection was edited by Joanne Hichens, a South African author, editor, and blogger. All three judges were women too. So really, it had a lot going for it.
I went to the launch of the collection this year at the Book Lounge in Cape Town because one of my AWW14 friends Tiffany Kagure Mugo has a story featured in the collection (and was chosen as Best New Voice). I was already going to buy the book to support her, but when the evening ended and I’d heard snippets about what some of the stories were about, I was even more chuffed with my decision.
Some of the stories are REALLY sexy. I remember when I was doing my MA in Creative Writing and we had a whole class discussion about writing sex scenes and how for some reason they always feel a bit creepy, or awkward. But the writing in this book was neither. Let’s just say it was good bed side reading.
Other stories were sad or really funny. I loved Alex Smith’s story about the Sea Point ‘Madam’ and her domestic worker, Fundiswa, who open their minds to art, and art opens their world to magic.
If you want to get a taste of some new South African voices, then get this collection, put it by your bed at night, and read it to yourself, or to a partner.