Apeirogon, A Novel

by Colum McCann, Bloomsbury, 2020

In the second half of the twentieth century psychiatrists began to notice an increasing number of tourists in Jerusalem suffering from acute psychotic decompensation: delusions and other episodes induced by proximity to the holy places of Jerusalem. Because of the high incidence of the cases – at least a hundred a year – they were channeled to one central facility, the Kfar Shaul Mental Health Center. The patients who suffer from the syndrome – some believing they are Jesus, , some Mary, some Moses, some Paul – can be found wandering in the streets of the Old City in clothing adapted from towels and hotel bedsheets, wearing crowns of woven thorns on their heads. Often the syndrome disappears as soon as they leave the city.

Die verdriet van België

deur Hugo Claus, uit die Nederlands vertaal deur Daniel Hugo, Pretoria, 2020

Louis word wakker van stemme wat saggies rusie maak en Pappa se vuis wat teen ʼn kopkussing slaan. Nie soos vroeër nie wanneer hy in sy bed huil en Pappa, die vreesaanjaende mensvreter, instorm en brul: “Gaan jy slaap of nie, ja of nee?” en met ʼn houtkapper se swaaibeweging ses keer ritmies reg langs sy verstarde kop op die kussing kap. Die stemme is ingehoue, dié van Pappa eerder klaend en Mamma s’n uitdagend. Louis ken die uitdrukking op haar gesig wat daarby pas, ʼn innerlike, koppige pret. Hy voel dit soms oor sy eie gesig trek, soos ʼn wolkie.

The names

by Don DeLillo, Picador, 1987

For a long time I stayed away from the Acropolis. It daunted me, that somber rock. I preferred to wander in the modern city, imperfect, blaring. The weight and moment of those worked stones promised to make the business of seeing them a complicated one. So much converges there. It’s what we rescued from the madness. Beauty, dignity, order, proportion. There are obligations attached to such a visit.

Gedeeltelik bewolk

deur Ruan Kemp, Tafelberg, 2019

Die stad is nat. En slymerig. George steier kromrug teen die bult op, die gansdonskombers om sy kop gevou, die voetenent sleep agterna soos ‘n gebreekte vlerk, slurp water, swaar soos ‘n anker. Vervloek ‘n taxi wat vir hom toeter blaas, verrvloek die insittendes ook, en hul nasate tot in die vyfde geslag. Hamer aan die deur van sy ou elfkamerhuis, die plek is nou ‘n gastehuis, maar niemand maak oop nie. Oorweeg die stoep, maar die stoep is gedeeltelik nat. Staan en wieg in sy gansdonskombers, kyk hoe die stoep natter raak  Sleep straataf, af in Army Avenue, op met ‘n grondpaadjie, enkeldiep in die modder op, verby ‘n tjoepstil kleuterskool, verby ‘n spoorwegagtige huisie waarin ‘n enkele liggie brand, gasvryheid op die deurkosyn doodgekrap, op teen die bult, verby ‘n nuuskierige vark met ‘n loopneus, ‘n brandsiek hond. Gaan staan voor watsegoed, uit die nat doem dit reusagtig teen die grys lug in op. Kasernes? Barakke? Bomskuilings? Dis donker binne, droog. Gaan lê op iets sags in die hoek, slaap.

Brave New World

by Aldous Huxley, Penguin Modern Classics, 1955

The various Bureaux of Propaganda and the College of Emotional Engineering were housed in a single sixty-storey building in Fleet Street, In the basement and on the lower floors were the presses and offices of the three great London newspapers – The Hardy Radio, an upper-caste sheet, the pale-green Gamma Gazette, ad om khaki paper and in words exclusively of one syllable The Delta Mirror. Then came the Bureaux of Propaganda by Television, by Feeling Picture, and by Synthetic Voice and Music respectively – twenty-two floors of them. Above were the research laboratories and the padded rooms in which the Sound-Track Writers and Synthetic Composers did their delicate work. The top eighteen floors were occupied by the College of Emotional Engineering.

The Pale King

by David Foster Wallace, Hamish Hamilton, 2011

I am not even sure I even know what to say. To be honest, a good bit of it I don’t remember. I don’t think my memory works in quite the way it used to. It may be that this kind of work changes you. Even just rote exams. It might really change your brain. For the most part, it’s now almost as if I’m trapped in the present. If I drank, for instance, some Tang, it wouldn’t remind me of anything – I’d just taste the Tang.

Americana

by Don Delillo, Penguin, 1990

Numbers mean less now that the adding machines, the super-calculators, the numerical systems and sub-systems have been uninvented. However, thinking back, I recall how important it was for me, personally, to define a situation, or a period of time, with as many numbers as I could assemble. They seemed the very valets of clarity. If I were on my deathbed today, and did not know the date, my cells would probably refuse to surrender. Without a calender, a stopwatch, a measuring cup on the night table, I couldn’t possibly know how to die.

Toekomsmens

deur Isa Konrad, Lapa, 2020

Terwyl hy verder in die straat afstap, word hy nietemin geleidelik bewus van visuele versteurings in die vorms wat hy deur die rooi mistigheid voor sy oë probeer deurgrond. Knakke in reguit lyne. Ontbrekende hoeke, gebroke oppervlakke. Die soet stank in die lug herinner hom aan die aanval op Musanda en toe kom die beelde van die brandende stad wat hy op die nuusskerm gesien het by hom op. Dit was hierdie stad. Toe hy dit besef, sien Kel ook beter waarna hy kyk. Murasies en verbryselde dakke, pikdonker holtes waar daar vensters of deure moet wees. Al die geboue is uitgebrand. Die puin maak heuwels op die sypaadjies. Die verwoesting wat voor sy oë vorm aanneem, is apokalipties.

Blindness

by José Saramago, Panther, 1997

Lying on their beds, the blind internees waited for sleep to take pity on their misery. Discreetly, as if there was some danger that others might see this distressing sight, the doctor’s wife had helped him to clean himself as well as she could. There was now that sorrowful silence one finds in hospitals when the patients are asleep and suffer even as they sleep. Sitting up and alert, the doctor’s wife looks at the beds, at the shadowy forms, the fixed pallor of a face, an arm that moved while dreaming. She wondered if she would ever go blind like them, what inexplicable reasons had saved her from blindness so far.

Onthou my

deur Helena Hugo, Lux Verbi, 2020

Die idee is so absurd sy wil giggel. Om te dink dat ʼn mens ʼn sertifikaat moet kry om te wys jy is dood. Geen prestasie nie, net ʼn oorsaak, ʼn datum en die amptelike handtekening. Moet jy dit saamneem hemel toe of los jy dit hier?

Here We Are

by Graham Swift, Scribner, 2020

He would put her in a box and, while she was in it, take a sword – two, three swords – and run her through. But this was not before he put her in another box, all hunched up like a trussed turkey in an oven, and then locked the door, wielding first the magic key – the magic golden key! – and made her disappear. And then – another locking and relocking – another wielding of the key – made her come back again. That was kind of him. Only to run her through with swords.

Narkose vir die hart

deur Helena Hugo, Jasmyn, 2020

Hoe sy by die huis gekom het, weet sy nie. Franz het saam met haar kar toe geloop. Die koopsentrum se parkeerarea was stiller as vroeër, maar daar was nog genoeg mense om hulle. Andrew het ook tussenin gekom en Saranie het hom voorgestel aan Franz, een van diedokters by die hospitaal waar sy vriend oorlede is, maar een van die dokters wat baie lewens red. Andrew het sy fooitjie geneem en diskreet in die skemer weggeraak.

American Dirt

by Jeanine Cummins, Tinder Press, 2019

Soledad has a black eye and a scraped cheek on the same side. Her hair is wild and full of grit. Rebecca is bleeding at the temple. Just a thin, bright red cord against her skin. Her mouth is swollen and raw. A guard pulls them by the ankles, one at a time, toward the liftgate of the truck and flings them to the floor like sacks of rice. Soledad and Rebecca don’t complain with their voices or faces or bodies. They’re both limp – all the flinch has gone out of them. The sisters land near the far end of the line of migrants, and they don’t move from where they’re placed. Rebecca closes her eyes at once. Soledad keeps hers open. She lifts her chin, leans forward, and looks down the line until she sees Luca sticking out a little from the rest of the migrants. She nods at him once.

Alinda se lampie

deur Helena Hugo, Derde keur, Jasmyn, 2020

Daar is niemand behalwe sy nie. Die gebedskamertjie in die hoek se deur is toe. Sy voel altyd so aardig: om te dink die vroue moet altyd hier kom bid en mans kry die geleentheid om na die naaste moskee te gaan. Hierdie ruskamer is aangenamer as die meeste – vroulik en geurig en versier met vars blomme. Sy was haar hande, trek die kopdoek reg. Dis so lastog.

Middernag

deur Sidney Gilroy, Human & Rousseau, 2020

Om hulle te laat lag is wat ek eerste moet regkry. Dan spartel hulle minder wanneer ek ʼn pop van hulle maak. Dis nie ʼn moeilike taak nie. Met die eerste van my poppe was ʼn sakkie lekkergoed genoeg. Gee eenvoudig dít waarvan hulle nie genoeg kan kry nie. Of bied iets wat net ʼn volwassene kan uitdink, en hulle volg maar té gewillig. En dan is hulle myne. My poppe. Om mee te maak soos ek wil.

Cloud Atlas

by David Mitchell, Sceptre, 2004

Crossing an old suspension bridge, high above an angry Chuwangsan river, we got out to stretch our legs. Hae-Joo apologized for his pureblood bladder and pissed into the trees a hundred meters below. I watched monochrome parrots roost on the guano-stained chasm face; their flapping and honking reminded me of Boom-Sook Kim and his xec friends. A ravine wound upstream; downstream the river was directed thru leveled hills until disappearing under Ulsöng’s canopy. Airos clustered over the conurb: dots.

Brazil

by John Updike, Penguin, 1995

On the beach, we seem each free, naked and idle and absolute, but in fact no one is free of the costume of circumstance, we are all twigs of one bush or another, and to gain a wife means to lose a brother, “Embrace,” she told the brothers, and told her lover, “We must go.” To Ursula she added, “Keep my gift, if you prefer, and light a candle against our return one night.”