The Living and the Dead

by Patrick White, Vintage, 1996

Outside the station, people settled down again to being emotionally commonplace. There was very little to distinguish the individual feature in the flow of faces. Certainly it was night, but even where a wave of neon washed across the human element, it uncovered no particular secret, just the uniform white, square or oblong, tinged for a moment with the feverish tones of red or violet. In the same way his ears took sound, but selected no predominant note out of the confused stream, taxis unsticking their tires from the wet surface of the street, the rumbling of the buses. All this was so much prevalent, and yet irrelevant sound. Like the drifting faces, a dim, surrounding presence, almost dependent on his train of thought for its existence there in the darkness. It was better like this, he felt, escaped only a couple of minutes from the too intimate glimpses, the emotional sharps of the railway platform. It was better to swim in the sea that was anybody’s London. The personal was glimpsed by Eden’s face that last moment on that receding train.

Onthou my

deur Helena Hugo, Lux Verbi, 2020

Janine is terug op die strand van haar kinderdae. Sy lig haar ken en kyk oor die see tot sy nie meer kan sien waar die water eindig en die lug begin nie. Daar agter die horison, het sy gedink, sal haar grootmenslewe begin. Dit het, maar nie soos sy gedroom het nie. Sy is een en twintig jaar en ses maande oud, moeg geleef en afhanklik van aalmoese. Nogtans is sy dankbaar en tel sy haar seëninge: “Dankie, Here! Dankie vir Jenny en Riekie en dat U ons huis toe gebring het. Dankie vir oupa Koen, ouma Leen en Jessie.”

Catcher in the Rye

by J.D. Salinger, Hamish Hamilton, 1951

If you realy want to know about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents are occupied and all that David Copperflield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it. In the first place, that kind of stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two haemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them. They’re quite touchy about anything like that, especially my father. They’re nice and all – I’m not saying that – but they’re also touchy as hell. Besides, I’m not going to tell you my whole goddam autobiography or anything. I’ll just tell you about this madman stuff that happened to me around last Christmas before I got pretty run-down and had to come out here and take it easy. I mean, that’s all I told D.B. about, and he’s my brother and all. He’s in Hollywood. That isn’t too far from this crumby place, and he comes over and visits me practically every week-end. He’s going to drive me home when I go home next month maybe. He just got a Jaguar. One of those little English jobs that can do around two hundred miles an hour. It cost him damn near four thousand bucks. He’s got a lot of dough now.He didn’t use to. He used, to be just a regular writer, when he was home. He wrote this terrific book of short stories, The Secret Goldfish, in case you never heard of him. The best one in it was ‘The Secret Goldfish’. It was about this little kid that wouldn’t let anybody look at his goldfish because he’d bought it with his own money. It killed me. Now he’s out in Hollywood, D.B., being a prostitute. There’s one thing I hate, it’s the movies. Don’t even mention them to me.

Patron Saint of Liars

by Ann Patchett, Fourth Estate, 1992

Two o’ clock in the morning, a Thursday morning, the first bit of water broke through the ground of George Clatterbuck’s back pasture in Habit, Kentucky, and not a living soul saw it. Spring didn’t care. Water never needed anyone’s help to come up through the ground once it was ready. There are rivers, hundreds of them, running underground all the time, and because of this a man can say he is walking on water. There was a hot spring that had broken loose of its river to make mud in the grass, and it kept on till it was a clear pool and then a little creek, cutting out a snake’s path toward the Panther River. Water will always seek out its own.

American Dirt

by Jeanine Cummins, Tinder Press, 2019

One of the very first bullets comes in through the open window above the toilet where Luca is standing. He doesn’t immediately understand that it’s a bullet at all, and it’s only luck that it doesn’t strike him between the eyes. Luca hardly registers the mild noise it makes as it flies past and lodges in the tiled wall behind him. But the wash of bullets that follows is loud, booming, and thudding, clack-clacking with helicopter-speed. There is a raft of screams, too, but that noise is short-lived, soon exterminated by the gunfire. Before Luca can zip his pants, lower the lid, climb up to look out, before he has time to verify that terrible clamor, the bathroom door swings open and Mami is there.

Reënboog-melodie

deur Anzil Kulsen, Lux Verbi, 2020

Sy staal haarself toe sy linkerhand uitskiet en sy vingers om haar arm krul; Hy is buite homself van woede. “Jy maak my seer,” kners sy tussen haar tande deur. Dit was ʼn goeie aand tot nou, voor hy hom vir haar vererg het.

Die kleinste ramp denkbaar

deur Francois Smith, Tafelberg, 2020

Hy het lank daaroor gedink as ʼn storie oor ʼn goeie dokter en ʼn slegte polisieman; soms ook as die verhaal van hoekom hy opgehou het om na Mahler te luister. Nie dat dit hom help om uit te kom by presies wat gebeur het en waarom daardie naweek se dinge so ʼn uitwerking op hom gehad het nie. Al wat hy met ʼn mate van stelligheid kon sê, is dat die gebeure te make het met hoekom hy ná sewe en twintig jaar besluit het om weg te gaan van die dorp waar hy grootgeword het.

Die Verlore Seun Vannie Gaatjie

deur Ivor Swartz, Lux Verbi, 2020

Die gelykenis wat Jesus in Lukas 15 vertel, die een van die verlore seun, was nog altyd vir my ʼn fassinerende, ʼn na-aan-die-hart en ʼn too-close-to-home storie. Selfs in my dae voor ek ʼn Jesus-volgeling was, het hierdie storie my aangegryp op ʼn manier wat min ander stories kon regkry. Ek het myself daarin gesien nog lank voordat ek geweet het ek is daarin. Ek lees dit steeds oor en oor. Dis soos my go-to-storie om te lees.

Swartskaap

deur Odette Schoeman, Kwela Boeke, 2009

Ek gee die zol vir my boetie terug en kyk hoe hy dit stewig tussen sy duim en wysvinger vasvat voor hy dit na sy mond toe lig. Sy oë is op skrefies en sy wange trek hol terwyl hy die rook diep in sy longe intrek, ʼn rukkie inhou, en dan stadig uitblaas.

Die lanternswaaier

deur SD Fourie, Protea, 2020

“Sophie! Sophie, word wakker!” Sy word traag wakker. Die beddegoed is knus en warm en sy kruip dieper onder die komberse in. Vaagweg, tussen slaap en wakker, hoor sy die wind raas in die melkhoutbome, die reën op die klipstoep neerstort en die veraf gedreun van die donderweer. Sy voel hoe haar voete die grond verlaat. Sy vlieg weer. Lig soos ʼn veertjie dwarrel sy hoër en hoër bokant die plaaswerf, oor die Prampiesberge na die binneland. Swaai oor die blink streep van die Uylenkraalsrivier, oor die hoë duin na die sandstrand van Holbaai. Die seewind roer haar hare, die seesproei ysig teen haar gesig.

Cloud Atlas

by David Mitchell, Sceptre, 2004

Beyond the Indian hamlet, upon a forlorn strand, I happened on a trail of recent foortprints. Through rotting kelp, sea coconuts & bamboo, the tracks led me to their maker, a white man, his towzers and Pea-jacket rolled up, sporting a kempt beard & an outsized Beaver, shovelling & sifting the cindery sand with a tea-spoon so intently that he noticed me only after I had hailed him from ten yards away. Thus it was, I made the acquaintance of Dr. Henry Goose, surgeon to the London nobility. His nationality was no surprise. If there be any eyrie so desolate , or isle so remote one may there resort unchallenged by an Englishman, ‘tis not down on any map I saw.

Aanspreeklikheid

deur Jaco Fouché, Human & Rousseau, 2020

Ek skat ek is aanspreeklik. Dis ʼn lastige vermoede, die soort wat ʼn mens voortydig met verwagtinge van verpligting opsaal, en tog ook die soort gedagte wat nie vreemd behoort te wees vir ʼn vyftigjarige man nie. Met die jare stapel die slegte gevoelens immers op, saam met slegte herinneringe.

Draairivier

deur Engela Ovies, Human & Rousseau, 2020

Tjoef-tjaf, tjoef-tjaf klink my voetstappe op die nat gruis. Ek trek die mus dieper oor my kop sodat my ore heeltemal toe is. Ek is nou spyt ek het die kortpaadjie gevat oor dit korter is.

Atomised

by Michel Houellbecq, Vintage, 2007

The first of July fell on a Wednesday. So although it was a little unusual, Djerzinski organised his leaving drinks for Tuesday evening. Bottles of champagne nestled among containers of frozen embryos in the large Brandt refrigerator usually filled with chemicals.

The Lantern Men

by Elly Griffiths, Quercus,2020

She has been walking for a long time. It’s funny but she hadn’t thought that there was so much space in England. The map, which she printed out in the library at school, seemed to show the youth hostel here, somewhere in this sea of green, but now that she’s walking, in her special shoes with her backpack on, there’s no sign of any buildings anywhere. Her phone is out of battery and she feels very alone. All she can do is keep walking.

The Satanic Verses

by Salman Rushdie, Viking, 1988

To be born again,’ sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens. ‘first you have to die. Ho ji! Ho ji! To land upon the bosomy earth, first one needs to fly. Tat-taa! Takathun! How to ever smile again, if first you won’t cry? How to win the darling’s love, mister, without a sigh? Baba, if you want to get born again …’ Just before dawn one winter’s morning, New Year’s Day or thereabouts, two real, full-grown, living men fell from a great height, twenty-nine thousand and two feet, towards the English Channel, without benefit of parachutes or wings, out of a clear sky.

Om ’n mens na te boots

deur Jeanne Goosen, Haum-Literêr, 1975

Ons het die hele nag oor die blou stasiewa gestry. ’n Voertuig was vir ons ’n noodsaaklike skakel  met die buitewêreld en ons het saam besluit om dit aan te skaf. Dit was ’n winskopie en in ’n puik toestand. Maar die stasiewa het ook nuwe probleme gebring. “Sê nou net die wa gaan staan,” roer ek die aand die ding aan wat my nou al bewerig van bekommernis het. “Ons is meer as 30 kilometer van die naaste motorhawe.”

Goeiemôre, mnr. Mandela

deur Zelda la Grange, Penguin, 2014

Ek is op 29 Oktober 1970 in Boksburg, oos van Johannesburg, gebore en ek is nie gelos om te sterf nie, maar om iets goeds van my lewe te maak, soos die meeste babas wat die wêreld binnekom.

Cold Case

deur Alex Eliseev, Pan Macmillan South Africa 2017

The R59 highway out of Johannesburg enters another gentle bend as Conway spots the blue, red and white glow of the Engen 1-Stop petrol station and the dark outline of the Blockhouse watchtower, a lingering ghost from a forgotten battlefield, once used to guard a railway running across the Highveld.

The Boy on the Bridge

deur M.R. Carey, Orbit, 2017

The bucks have all been passed and the arguments thrashed out until they don’t even bleed any more. Finally, after a hundred false starts, the Rosalind Franklin begins her northward journey – from Beacon on the south coast of England all the way to the wilds of the Scottish Highlands. There aren’t many who think she’ll  make it that far, but they wave off with bands and garlands all the same. They cheer the bare possibility.

Die verdriet van België

deur Hugo Claus, vertaal deur Daniel Hugo, Protea 2020

Dondeyne het een van die sewe Verbode Boeke onder sy hemp weggesteek en Louis saamgelok. Hulle sit nou onder die slingerplante van Bernadette Soubirous se grot.

Byleveld, Dossier of a Serial Sleuth

deur Hanlie Retief, Umuzi 2011

Sixteen year old David Sehmel is standing at the roadside in Durban, trying to get away from the Excelsior Place of Safety, from which he has just escaped.

Die verevrou

deur Jan van Tonder, Human & Rousseau, 2019

Liora kyk stip na die lang, reguit gruispad wat deur die woestyn sny, haar hande styf om die toue van die skoppelmaai geklem. In die verte slaan stof op. ʼn Warrelwind? Nee, dit kom te reguit nader, soos ʼn ryding. Laat dit asseblief tog ʼn lorrie wees, een van dié wat oom Moshe altyd naby die kasbah in Algiers gaan huur wanneer sy volstruisvere by die hawe afgelaai word. En laat hom asseblief tog dié keer ʼn bietjie langer as gewoonlik bly, tot sy oor ʼn paar dae sewe word.

Gaan Suid-Afrika oukei wees?

deur Jan-Jan Joubert, Tafelberg, 2019

As politieke joernalis en skrywer kry ek baie vrae van Suid-Afrikaners van alle rasse, samelewingsklasse en tale oor sleutelaspekte van die land se politieke, ekonomiese en samelewingstendense, wat sommige mense as dinamies en ander as kommerwekkend ervaar.

The Fifth Mrs Brink

deur Karina M. Szczurek

8 February 2015
No words. Words.
‘Brakuje nam slow z rozpaczy’ – from Mom and Krystian.
We are missing words out of despair. A literal translation.

 

 

I’ll take you there

deur Joyce Carol Oates

In those days in the early Sixties we were not women yet but girls. This was, without irony, perceived as our advantage.

The Evening of Adam

deur Alice Thomas Ellis, Penguin, 1994

“What I don’t understand,” said Eve, “is how, while one person is – well, say, looking at violets in a hedge, somewhere else another person will undoubtedly be torturing a third person to death. Do you see what I mean?”

Die swart sluier

deur Joan Hambidge, Tafelberg, 1998

Die jaarlikse Welkom-leeskringseminaar is die literêre gebeurtenis van die jaar, weet Sonja Verbeek, voorste kenner van die leeskring as literêre fenomeen. Trouens, haar studie onder Perfidia Pansegrouw het ook opslae gemaak in Pennsylvania, VSA. Die studie, in oorleg met al die verskeie leeskringe in ons Suiderland, het mense in die Noorderland asmede geroer. Die titel heet gepas “Welkom in Welkom” en hier word gelees, en die ekstase van lees word diep beskou.

Bloedsteen

deur Irna van Zyl, Penguin 2020

Speuradjudant Storm van der Merwe se ma val nie per ongeluk onder ’n trein op Londen se Paddington-stasie nie. Sy word gestamp.
Deur ’n kleinerige maer man met ’n donkergrys pet laag oor sy oë, ’n kakiegroen somerbaadjie, swart jeans, bruin skerppuntleerskoene en ’n ligbruin gelaatskleur. ’n Man wat so rats in die middag se gedrang van pendelaars verdwyn dat slegs enkele van die omstanders ’n flerts groen, ’n glimp
van sy pet of ’n skraapsel ink teen sy keel onthou.

Sewe-en-veertig

deur Irma Venter, Human & Rousseau, 2019

Die klank draf deur my onderbewussyn. Dring deur die swart wolk van slaap. Kom staan voor my en skree, skril en aanhoudend, soos daai kaalvoet natneuskinders in Checkers wie se ma’s nie vir hulle lekkergoed wil koop nie.

Die mooiste meisie van Genua

deur Leonard Pfeijffer, Protea, 2019

Die mooiste meisie van Genua werk in die Kroeg met die Spieëls. Sy dra dieselfde netjiese klere as al die meisies wat daar werk. Sy het ook ’n kêrel wat haar-af en toe opsoek terwyl sy werk. Hy het jel in sy hare en dra ‘n T-hemp sonder moue waarop SOHO staan. Hy is ’n poephol. Soms sien ek via die spieëls hoe hulle mekaar skelm soen in die hokkie waar sy die happies vir die aperitief voorberei.

The Mirror & the Light

deur Hilary Mantel, Fourth Estate, 2020

Once the queen’s head is severed, he walks away. A sharp pang of appetite reminds him that it is time for a second breakfast, or perhaps an early dinner. This morning’s circumstances are new and there are no rules to guide us. The witnesses, who have knelt for the passing of the soul, stand up and put on their hats. Under the hats, their faces are stunned.

Die nag ruik na spoed

deur Schalk Schoombie, Protea 2020

Die deurklokkie se pieng laat Jurie Schenken opskrik. Hy is skielik bewus van ’n nuwe teenwoordigheid in die winkel nadat hy oomblikke weggedroom het, sy beaarde hande en waterige grys oë dwalend oor voorwerpe wat hom herinner aan die einde van geskiedenis: sneeukoepels met stadjies en seilskepies in bottels, outydse tydhouers soos wekkers wat mekaar tikkend in die rede val, goue polshorlosies met dowwe gesigte, staanhorlosies met lang wysers, opwenbare speelgoed van geverfde blik soos hasies, paddas en soldate, die swart metronoom wat sy ouma gebruik het om hom te leer klavierspeel.

As jy van moord droom

deur Deborah Steinmair, Lapa 2020

Ek weet nie regtig hoekom ek vir jou wil vertel hoe ons lewe toe verder verloop het nie, Bert. Na jou dood nie. Ons is so doodgewoon, daar is min om te verhaal.

Skag

deur Jaco Wolmarans, Tafelberg, 2020

Die nag word verlig deur ʼn verblindende flits wat die brug skud voor ʼn wit rookwok dit omvou. ʼn Presies berekende lading springstof, met aluminium aangevuur tot ʼn versengende hittegolf, ruk deur die dik staal, verwring dit soos klei en laat die struktuur sissend in die donker water van die Pungwerivier neersyg.

Die tweeling trek saam

deur M.E.R., Tafelberg, 1961

Diepkloof was die naam van die plaas waar Gert en Mina gewoon het. Hulle was die jongste van al die kinders, en was ʼn tweeling; hulle het nie veel na mekaar gelyk nie, maar was ewe groot. Van kleins af was hulle altyd saam, en elkeen het gedink die een kan niks sonder die ander doen nie. Maar nou was hulle al twaalf jaar oud en moes soms apart werk: Mina moes in die huis help, en Gert moes soggens vroeg uit na kraal of veld of waar sy pa of sy ouboet hom gestuur het.

Barkskins

deur Annie Proulx, 4th Estate, 2016

In twilight they passed bloody Tadoussac, Kebec and Trois-Rivieres and near dawn moored at a remote riverbank settlement. Rene Sel, stiff black hair, slanted eyes, yeux brides – in ancient times invading Huns had been at his people – heard someone say “Wobik.” Mosquitoes covered their hands and necks like fur. A man with yellow eyebrows pointed them at a rain-dark house. Mud, rain, biting insects and the odor of willows made the first impression of New France. The second impression was of dark vast forest, inimical wilderness.

The First Stone

deur Elliot Hall, John Murray, 2009

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life,” said Brother Isaiah on TV to his dead body lying on the the bed below. The men leaning over his corpse didn’t hear, and they had they would have regarded the words as prophecy, not irony. I kept my distance and let them squint.

The green road

deur Anne Enright, Vintage, 2015

Later, after Hanna made some cheese on toast, her mother came into the kitchen and filled a hot water bottle from the big kettle on the range.

Splitfoot

deur Samantha Hunt, Corsair, 2016

“Far from here, there’s a church. Inside the church, there’s a box. Inside the box is Judas’s hand.” Nat is slight and striking as a birch branch.

Kontrei

deur Kleinboer, Praag, 2003

(Dit begin in die jaar 1998 as ’n brief aan my tweelingbroer Sarel Sambok.) Jy het met ons geboorte die water voor my gebreek, later eerste van die hoë duikplank afgespring, eerste ’n meisie gesoen, voor my ’n sigaretpakkie se sellofaan afgeskeur.

Innie Shadows

deur Olivia M. Coetzee, Modjadji Books, 2019

Dis Dinsdagoggend, Veronique Plaatjies, of Nique soes almal haa ken, sit by die tafel wat voo haa kamervenster staan. Elke oggend vat sy tyd vi haa self, met ’n koppie koffie, pen en papier. Sy trek dan die gordyne wyd oep om die wêreld van buite te kan sien.

Little Deaths

deur Emma Flint, Picador 2017

On the rare night that she sleeps, she is back in the skin of the woman from before.

Of Motherhood and Melancholia

deur Lou-Marié Kruger, UKZN Press, 2020

‘Feel my hand – they are always wet,’ Wendy Winters says and holds up her hands to me. In the blue blazer of her school uniform (the dress is mustard yellow), she carries a red facecloth, specifically for drying her hands. She seems to know what information I need; I don’t have to ask questions. She does not look me. in the eye, her head is slightly lowered, her shoulders seem tense.

Toorbos

deur Dalene Matthee, Filmweergawe, Tafelberg, 2020

In Oudebrandpad besef sy skielik daar is iewers ʼn olifant in die ruigtes. Naby. Sy weet dit aan die loerie wat hoog in ʼn boom begin sis en gorrel om die olifant te waarsku dat daar ʼn mens met die sleeppad langs kom en hy homself roerloos moet versteek.

Case Histories

by Kate Atkinson, Doubleday, 2004

How lucky were they? A heat wave in the middle of the school holidays, exactly where it belonged. Every morning the sun was up long before they were, making a mockery of the flimsy summer curtains that hung limply at their bedroom windows, a sun already hot and sticky with promise before Olivia even opened her eyes. Olivia, as reliable as a rooster, always the first to wake, so that no one in the house had bothered with an alarm clock since she was born three years ago.

The Mandibles

deur Lionel Shriver

“Don’t use clean water to wash your hands!” Intended as a gentle reminder, the admonishment came out shrill. Florence didn’t want to seem like what her son would call a boomerpoop, but still – the rules of the household were simple. Esteban consistently flouted them. There were ways of establishing that you weren’t under any (somehwat) older woman’s thumb without wasting water. He was such a cripplingly handsome young man that she’d let him get away with almost anything else.