Operation Oysterhood: 17 February

OYSTERHOOD is reclusiveness or solitude, or an overwhelming desire to stay at home.

— @HaggardHawks

I try to post a book image on the Karavan Press IG account every few days. It has become a lovely way of interacting with our readers. This morning, when I couldn’t sleep again, I posted a photo I took yesterday while enjoying some beautiful cheese and, as always when eating cheese, thinking of Dawn Garisch’s Breaking Milk. I loved the responses to the post on IG from readers who had read the novel. When I first read one of its early drafts many, many years ago, I fell in love with this book, the richness of its insights, its beauty, and the portrayal of farm life and organic cheese-making. It is impossible not to crave cheese when you read the book. We published Breaking Milk in 2019 and I still marvel at the fact that I was able to midwife it into being through publication. It is such an honour to share it with readers and to see how much they love it, too.

I woke up today sometime after three a.m. and could not get back to sleep. Eventually, I read and watched tennis and made coffee and listened to birdsong.

I received the strangest two requests in the early hours of this sleepless morning: one from an author in India wanting me to publish his book; the other from an author in Canada wanting me to comment on his book about a topic I know absolutely nothing about. Why? What’s the point of sending these bizarre requests to complete strangers and asking them to deal with them, to waste their time? There is a certain kind of audacity in such requests – and definitely no time spent on research and proper engagement with the person addressed – that is difficult for me to comprehend. I cannot imagine approaching a publisher to publish my manuscript without reading at least a few of their titles. I cannot also imagine asking a writer to comment on my book without knowing what their fields of expertise/interest are and actually offering a copy of the book to them for reading (the book I was asked to comment on costs ‘only’ £120 – I can get ten local books I actually want to read in SA for this price).

Are these kind of approaches a gender thing? Why do I feel that it is predominantly men who have the chutzpah to waste other people’s time like this?

Luckily, in the afternoon, I did have the loveliest of times in the company of a writer I know and treasure. She had been worried about me and came to sit with me on my stoep to chat. She brought delicious cookies baked by one of her daughters. Perfect for afternoon coffee and tea.

The rest of the day was editing and admin.

In the evening, I attended the virtual launch of Brent Meersman’s Rattling the Cage: Reflections on Democratic South Africa. Apart from the technical problems that interrupted the conversation, great stuff. A book to look out for.

Rafa lost in five. My tennis heart is broken, but Tsitsipas’s comeback from two sets down was a feat and he has to be congratulated on the incredible effort. Can he do it two more times? Not sure. So, it looks like I will be praying for the Russians to do the job (of defeating you know who…).

The vaccine rollout has begun in SA. J&J all the way!

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

“Physical distancing remains one of the key strategies to curb this pandemic.”

— NICD

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