Author Archives: Karina

About Karina

Author living in Cape Town.

Operation Oysterhood: 24 October

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

— @HaggardHawks

Glinka helped with the planning and Mozart assisted with the execution of my first ladies’ lunch since the beginning of the lockdown. To make it as safe as possible, I arranged two tables in the garden and divided all the dishes in two, so that each table had its own food and every one had their own serving cutlery, etc. We could be together, while keeping a safe distance to one another at all times. In the morning it was still raining, but luckily the skies cleared up just in time for us to enjoy the afternoon in the garden and it was soul-restoring. I missed my guests the moment they left and knew that I will have to do this again as soon as possible. It is different and complicated, but worth all the effort. Just what I needed at the end of a difficult week.

After cleaning up, I spoke to Mom and Krystian, worked a bit and then went to the last performance of The Outlaw Muckridge. It was wonderful to see a few friends there I haven’t seen in a while and to go out to dinner afterwards to celebrate the reopening of the Baxter with this simultaneously timely and timeless play.

A day that seemed ordinary, from the time ‘before’, but, of course, it wasn’t, because I prepared lunch wearing a mask and washed my hands a million times while doing it and had my name recorded while entering the theatre, sanatised and wore a mask for most of the time in the evening, unless I was drinking or eating. I spoke to people who had to completely reinvent themselves during the lockdown because they either lost their jobs or faced impossible challenges while still keeping one. And all day long I thought about loss, how a friend lost a parent in these already awful circumstances; how another, who is a doctor, lost colleagues to the pandemic; and another cannot be with her parents, who need her, but do not want to risk her travelling to see and support them. And there is no end to any of it in sight, especially if Europe is anything to go by.

If “all world’s a stage and all men and women merely players”, then the coronavirus is a shitty director and only love and kindness will allow us to get to the other side …

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 23 October

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

— @HaggardHawks

Hearing the news from Poland – banning nearly all terminations – I despair.

The Tangerine Troll did not throw all his toys out of the cot last night, but did you watch that face? What happened to the First Trollin? And the Trolltjie? How did they cope with the infection? … On second thought, I actually don’t need to know … Vote, dear Americans! Vote. Please vote some sanity into the White House.

This has been an intense week, as predicted. Driving home from my evening visit with my love’s recovering Cat, I was so exhausted, and my fridge was so empty, that I suddenly had an idea: HARU.

I nearly burst into tears when they brought me a glass of rosé and some simple sushi. I sat outside, alone, at a table meant for four, and just watched the traffic go buy and enjoyed my wonderful meal and my wine. The stress of the week drained away and I felt calm, ready for bed.

So this is it. I am going to have an early night.

Tomorrow, I am hosting my first ladies’ lunch since the lockdown. It will be under the trees in my garden, physically distanced and as safe as it can be.

And in the evening, I am watching my favourite Outlaw on stage at the Baxter.

Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 22 October

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

— @HaggardHawks

The Pope proclaims the previously unimaginable; Obama does not mince his words; Poland is erecting a field hospital in the national stadium; and I have just participated – joyfully – in my first webinar (the news of only the last twenty-four hours …). Aliens landing in my wild garden would no longer surprise me in 2020. Actually, I am expecting them to arrive before Christmas. Surely, no one in this universe would want to miss the new year’s celebrations on planet Earth – we will all be so glad to leave this year behind that we will not know how to mark the event. It will be outrageously fabulous …

… I will be in bed by eight, drunk on a bottle of Champagne!

(Only Goddess knows what tonight’s ‘debate’ will deliver …!?)

A book I edited went through the final revision stages today. It will go to print by Monday, latest. Another project I began this week is well on its way. I really enjoyed the webinar – it was a delight to interview Gigi Fenster about her remarkable memoir, FEVERISH, for the Jewish Literary Festival (@Home Edition). Gigi has a new book coming in 2021. I sincerely hope that the next Jewish Literary Festival will take place IRL and I can meet Gigi in person and listen to her talk about her second novel without screens between us.

I don’t think that I will last until the debate, but once again I am curious. The Tangerine Troll has never really been in control of any plot, but in the last few days, he has lost it irrevocably, it seems. I have an idea that he won’t be able to contain himself at all and the world is in for a freak show of note: a psychopath on full display. May enough people wake up to his malignancy and vote this particular horror out of power.

I was thinking about the reality of a Biden presidency: it will be decent and calm and we will be able to forget about the States for a while. Twitter might finally become boring – and more bearable – for a few days at a time … Imagine that!

“And that empathy, that decency, that belief that everybody counts, that’s who Joe is. That’s who he’ll be …” (President Barack Obama)

The rising infection, hospitalisation and death numbers worldwide … Deep existential sigh.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 21 October

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

— @HaggardHawks

Forthcoming from Karavan Press: FOR EVERYTHING THAT IS POINTLESS AND PERFECT by Stephen Symons, the press’s first poetry collection.

A day of driving around Cape Town from one corner of the city to another: a heartening (as always) visit at Protea Distribution, my local printer (also always a joy), Clarke’s Bookshop and The Book Lounge (ah, bookshops! – where would we be without them?), two banks (sigh), post office (I love my local post office), recovering Cat (twice, but she is doing great!) and I actually managed to send a book to the printers today. Yay.

Still to come this evening: a trial run for tomorrow night’s JLF@Home event: my interview with Gigi Fenster about her striking memoir, FEVERISH. Tune in at 8PM tomorrow and find out how a conversation about Velcro fantasies (!) led to the writing of an amazing book.

The Book Lounge’s Winnie-the-Pooh and I watch the protest march outside the bookshop earlier today …

Yesterday was rough. There was a moment in the day where I felt this deep-seated, numbing fear in the pit of my stomach that I might not be able to fix everything that needed fixing and a dream would have to be given up in the process of at least attempting to do something. But, as always, my family and my love came to the rescue and talked me through everything, offering practical advice and essential help. I soldier on. But only because of my Loved Ones.

I am tired, but I will go to bed with a lighter heart tonight.

Although there are other crushing concerns that are completely out of my control. I watch the pandemic updates in Europe and across the rest of the world with ever-increasing worry. And, locally, in my secular way I pray that our health minister, his wife and all others suffering because of an infection with the coronavirus recover fully and quickly. I do not understand anyone who is not wearing a mask and/or not trying to keep their distance from others as much as it is feasible. I don’t even remember how to wash my hands in any other way than as if I was preparing for a medical operation. I do not want to get sick. I want to continue fully with my life, personal and professional, but in a way that lowers the infection risk to an absolute minimum. And I pray.

Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 20 October

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

— @HaggardHawks

A day of emotional contradictions: anxiety, despair, joy, gratitude, sympathy, self-pity, and, and, and.

I might have made a few reckless decisions. A plan I had did not work out. Alternatives presented themselves from the most unlikely places. I had to write a few difficult emails. But then, at lunchtime, I spoke with Mom and Krystian and they put everything into perspective and offered any kind of assistance I might need. And in the evening, I saw lovely people at the theatre again and immediately the world seemed a better place. The magic of a brilliant performance; the goodness of friends and loved ones.

“Tomorrow might be better. Tomorrow might be worse.” (The Outlaw Muckridge)

Some incredibly sad news in the later part of the evening. Received with Salieri purring on my lap, though. Where would I be without The Cats?

I shouldn’t have another glass of wine, but I will. And the night is probably going to be restless, but “tomorrow might be better” (I am not sure the quote is hundred per cent accurate, but it should be close enough).

Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 19 October

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

— @HaggardHawks

The day began with such a sense of anxiety about everything that needed to be done this week that I felt paralysed. I lay in bed and listened to the radio and had coffee, trying to gather my wits around me to start the morning. At the moment I heard the garbage truck rounding the corner of my street, it was nearly too late to get all my bags into the bin and out in time for collection, but I somehow made it. It felt like a great achievement. I took a deep breath, posted a comment about my feelings on Twitter (as one does), sighed, and was nearly ready to capitulate before the mountain of responsibilities facing me, but then I just snapped out of it and got going. Another visit to the printer, morning visit with the recovering Cat while my love was at work very early today, post office, proofs, emails, a big announcement at Karavan Press – I will be publishing Nick Mulgrew’s debut novel; let me repeat: KARAVAN PRESS IS PUBLISHING NICK MULGREW’S DEBUT NOVEL! I have been sitting on the news for quite a while now and am thrilled that we could finally share it, and the way it was received makes my heart glow with literary delight – reading, more emails, lawnmowing, weeding, evening visit with the Cat, more emails, book events planning and lots and lots of admin on all fronts.

In the middle of it all, my love arrived after work and swept me off on a Monday lunch date at The Test Kitchen, which has re-invented itself in this rough time. As safe as required during the pandemic and divinely delicious as always. A haven of culinary joy. Also an inspiration. They just refuse to give up on their dreams, no matter how difficult it is right now to believe in them. Dream. Face reality. Adjust. Continue dreaming …

We have that in common.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 18 October

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

— @HaggardHawks

The global lockdown has caught up with me on the virtual event front. I have been saying no to participating in virtual literary events as an interviewer/interviewee for all these months, but I could not say no to Gigi Fenster and her Fever. The reason is that we live continents apart and there is no way of telling when we will be able to be in the same room to do this in person, and I absolutely loved Gigi’s memoir and do not want to miss any opportunity of talking to her about it. So, please, tune in on Thursday, 22 October, at 8PM South African time (details above). You will be able to hear about this striking – feverishly hot! – book, see what Gigi and I look like without mask, and see who or what else you can spot in the background of our studies while we are talking (I am not sure I can keep all Cats out of the picture …).

Sunday. But the day did not feel like it until I went to visit my love in the late afternoon and we watched a bit of TV, relaxed and had dinner together. His Feline is doing great. Our combined care and love are working.

For the rest of the day, I worked, completing the final touches on two manuscripts that are going to print this week, one I am publishing at Karavan Press and the other I edited for someone – both are great books and I can’t wait for them to reach bookshops. They both have the most amazing covers.

Another very busy week ahead, but I am hoping that it is the last one of such high intensity for the year. I am feeling worn-out and need to slow down.

I have been thinking a lot about what is happening in Europe and how the ‘second wave’ is setting us – globally – back again. I read a wonderful article by Sue de Groot in the Sunday Times today. In it, she compares the lockdown to maternity leave in the most illuminating way. I know that my life is still quite restricted and, even though I am beginning to see people more regularly and to go out and travel, it is definitely nowhere near as social as it had been before the pandemic. But I am also noticing that my safety vigilance is weaker than it was only a few weeks ago and I think this is wrong – it is exactly what contributes to all these ‘second waves’. It’s hard to be strict with oneself, but I have reached another ‘more safety’ resolution and will try to be a lot more careful than I have been in the last while. I know we have to learn to live with the coronavirus, but we can’t do it by relaxing into complacency.

It is time for bed. And hopefully a decent sleep. Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 17 October

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

— @HaggardHawks

No milk. I usually don’t mind my coffee black, but I prefer it with a dash of milk, especially in the morning. A bit hungover and exhausted after a doughnut night, I dragged my limbs to the nearest grocery shop and bought milk and cat food. Walking to the shop woke me up and aired my brain. I returned to bed with my huge mug full of milky coffee and read Bosch until it was time for the Alma Café Traders’ Market. Do yourself a favour and have a look at LUKE’S LARDER. The website is new and simply wonderful. And all the food is pure deliciousness. I brought home a few things from the market’s larder, fresh rye bread, vanilla marshmallows and a lemon-meringue pie. I have been eating well all day long …

The rest of Saturday was work, mostly updating the Karavan Press website with author and book details and manuscript work. I washed the dirty kitchen floor and cleaned the guest bathroom before preparing a light early supper for my love and visiting his Furry One while he went back to work. In the evening, I had a loooong Skype chat with Mom and Krystian.

After the magical performance of The Outlaw Muckridge last night, I thought a lot about the theatre today. It is an art form that I grasp as a writer, but the performance aspect of it remains a creative mystery that will forever fascinate me. I can imagine writing another play, but I know that I could never go on stage and act in one. Even the idea of it is completely beyond my capability. But I can never get enough of watching it done, especially when it is done so extremely well.

I will go and see The Outlaw Muckridge again.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 16 October

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

— @HaggardHawks

My friend Debbie and I at the Baxter: the opening night of The Outlaw Muckridge. It was simply wonderful to be in a theatre again, part of an audience, immersed in a live performance of the best kind. I might have had one shot of tequila too many afterwards to write coherently about the night (or the day), so here are a few photographs:

The creatives behind The Outlaw Muckridge: Alan Committie, Niall Griffin, Louis Viljoen & John Maytham.

What else? I got a few (brief, masked) hugs tonight – my first hugs (apart form my love’s) since the beginning of lockdown. HUGS!

I go to bed a happy woman, tipsy on theatre, tequila and hugs. Good night.

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD

Operation Oysterhood: 15 October

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

— @HaggardHawks

Academic, publisher, writer, Ampie Coetzee, passed away earlier today at the age of eighty-one. He was one of André’s dear friends and I spent many enlightening and entertaining hours in his company. I loved the way he always spoke his mind and did not take any nonsense from anybody. Another great of Afrikaans letters is no longer among us. His insights, words, generosity of spirit will remain in many people’s memories. But it is a small consolation when the heart is sore with yet another loss. This year has taken so much. I think of Ampie’s loved ones and tears roll down my cheeks … Rus in vrede, Ampie!

One of Ampie’s literary ventures was the legendary, courageous publishing house, Taurus. Together with John Miles and Ernst Lindenberg, the first book Ampie published under the imprint was Oomblik in die wind (1975, An Instant in the Wind). And they knew that the censor would be watching … The rest is history, as they say.

What I am attempting with Karavan Press is nowhere near as brave or challenging, but I travel in these footsteps, inspired by people like Ampie, André and the friends with whom they went ‘stealing literary horses’.

Strangely fittingly, together with designer/typesetter, Monique Cleghorn, and author, Joanne Hichens, I visited our printer today to discuss book proofs and the finishing touches of covers. Returning home, I held the new book proofs with the already published Karavan Press books in my hands and knew that I was holding dreams transformed into reality. I still don’t know whether Karavan Press has a long-term future. Understandably, book buying is not on many people’s minds right now. But I refuse to give up and will forge ahead and continue dreaming as long as I possibly can.

I was also at Clarke’s Bookshop today to pick up a review copy of a very special book and I ordered a poetry book from them, which I had hoped would have arrived by now, but is still on its way. I also delivered the proofs of another book to the author, who wrote to me afterwards: ‘I am delighted with my book.’ It will be ready for distribution in early November. I am making the official announcement tomorrow. Karavan Press’s first poetry title. First of many – the next one is already in the making. I am thrilled!

I continue dreaming. And cherishing the people who paved the way before me.

‘Ancient paths. New literary journeys …’

Be kind. Wear a mask. Support local.

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

— NICD