Tag Archives: Karina M. Szczurek

Blown Away by Books

Dear Readers,

I will be chairing a session at Blown Away by Books, taking place at the Fish Hoek Library between 15 and 17 September. On Friday, I will be speaking with Sara-Jayne Makwala King, Erika Bornman and Cathy Park Kelly about their remarkable, brave memoirs.

Please see the full programme of the festival here: Blown Away by Books

Love,

Karina

Woman Zone interview with Louisa Treger

I interviewed Louisa Treger about her life and books, including her latest, Madwoman (Bloomsbury, 2022) for Woman Zone. Always a great joy to talk to Louisa – an amazing woman writing about other amazing women!

You can listen to the podcast here:

Artscape Conversations – Woman Zone Stories

Book review: Madwoman by Louisa Treger

“If Hell existed in the universe, it was right here,” Nellie Bly thinks to herself only a few days into her confinement on Blackwell’s Island. It is 1887, and the asylum, just off the coast of New York, is “a socially acceptable way of disposing with inconvenient women”. The difference between Nellie and the other women locked up in this hell on earth is that she is there of her own free will. Bly faked insanity to be admitted. She is one of the most dangerous of “inconvenient women” — one with a voice. Madwoman is her story.

Continue reading: Sunday Times

Madwoman ★★★★★
Louisa Treger
Bloomsbury, 2022

Madwoman by Louisa Treger to be launched at Exclusive Books Cavendish and I get to ask the questions … :)

Please join us for this launch. I look forward to talking to Louisa about her life, writing and her latest stunning novel, Madwoman, which tells the remarkable story of Nellie Bly.

Description

‘A moving story’ SUNDAY TIMES, Best historical fiction books of 2022
‘A must read!’ GILL PAUL
‘Intriguing … A fascinating read’ HAZEL GAYNOR
‘Remarkable’ ESSIE FOX
‘An astonishing tour de force’ REBECCA MASCULL

In 1887 young Nellie Bly sets out for New York and a career in journalism, determined to make her way as a serious reporter, whatever that may take.

But life in the city is tougher than she imagined. Down to her last dime and desperate to prove her worth, she comes up with a dangerous plan: to fake insanity and have herself committed to the asylum that looms on Blackwell’s Island. There, she will work undercover to document – and expose – the wretched conditions faced by the patients.

But when the asylum door swings shut behind her, she finds herself in a place of horrors, governed by a harshness and cruelty she could never have imagined. Cold, isolated and starving, her days of terror reawaken the traumatic events of her childhood. She entered the asylum of her own free will – but will she ever get out?

An extraordinary portrait of a woman way ahead of her time, Madwoman is the story of a quest for the truth that changed the world.

‘Madwoman is one of the best, a magnificent portrayal of Nelly Bly in all her journalistic integrity and daring’ New York Journal of Books

Louisa is also the author of:

Can’t wait! Hope to see you there :)

Second Life Book Club: A conversation with Karina M. Szczurek

This should be fun! 15 June 2022, 9PM (South African time): Second Life Book Club with Draxtor

Here are some shots from my first visit to the Second Life Book Club, when I had my tutorial on how it all works.

My avatar’s ears wiggle :) She is a real Szczurek.

LitNet: The yumness of the Kingsmead Book Fair 2022

KBF

Even for Capetonians, it is doable in a day, and the access could not be more perfect: you take an early flight to Joburg, get on the Gautrain, arrive at the Rosebank station, and Kingsmead College is right opposite its exit. The college is the venue of the Kingsmead Book Fair (KBF). It is a one-day affair, so in the evening you can go straight home. This year was the first time I decided to attend, and I loved every second of it, despite the journey and the freezing cold and rain that accompanied the event.

LitNet

LitNet: Real Fiction – The revival of the Franschhoek Literary Festival

I wrote about the FLF for LitNet:

“Other people do not walk around with fictional characters and stories occupying the majority of their headspace. Writers do. Tuned into alternative realities, often the most intimate relationships they have are with their Muses. As readers, we are fascinated by them and the beauty, perception, solace and entertainment they can offer through their stories. We attend literary festivals to rub shoulders with these strange creatures and to discover what inspires them, what makes them tick.”

LitNet

FLF

FLF

Book review: Cosmonauts Do It In Heaven by Keith Gottschalk

Keith Gottschalk’s poem “As the sun sets” ends with the following lines: “as the sun sets/ the astronomers eat breakfast,/ set off, start work.” It is one of the first poems in his recent collection, Cosmonauts do it in heaven. The few simple phrases read like an invitation to follow not only the astronomers, but also the poet, into the night sky in order to accompany the author on his quest to honour the scientists who, throughout the ages, have observed and studied the stars above us, as well as to expose the challenges and prosecutions they have faced along their paths to understanding …

Continue reading: LitNet

Review: Recollections of My Non-Existence by Rebecca Solnit

I cherish the day I discovered Rebecca Solnit’s voice. And so, as a woman and a writer, it was chilling for me to read the words that present her latest book, Recollections of My Non-Existence, to the reader as follows: “An electric portrait of the artist as a young woman that asks how a writer finds her voice in a society that prefers women to be silent.”

Solnit’s voice is a voice of reason, compassion and celebration. She could not be silenced. She is the author of over twenty titles, ranging from books about hope and walking to women’s rights and storytelling. Her oeuvre is a torch that lights the way through the darkness of this world.

Recollections of My Non-Existence tells Solnit’s personal story and weaves the history of feminism into it, empowering readers to follow in her extraordinary footsteps and yet find their own path. With every page you turn, you feel more inspired, and if you are a woman, you feel seen and recognised. The connection allows you to comprehend the ultimate need for “freedom, equality, confidence” that reality all too often denies us, but we must never abandon the desire to seek them out and make them our own.

Recollections of My Non-Existence

Rebecca Solnit

Granta, 2020

Review first published in the Cape Times on 24 December 2020.

Review: My Mother’s Laughter – Selected Poems by Chris van Wyk

My Mother’s Laughter: Selected Poems by Chris van Wyk, compiled and edited by Ivan Vladislavić and Robert Berold, is one of those literary gems that you will want to have on your bookshelf. Most readers will know Chris van Wyk as the author of Shirley, Goodness & Mercy and its sequel, Eggs to Lay, Chickens to Hatch, both memoirs published in the decade before Van Wyk’s untimely death of cancer in 2014.

He was a versatile writer of children’s books, autobiographical works and other non-fiction, as well as fiction. As editor of Staffrider, the literary and cultural magazine founded in the late 1970s (in existence until 1993), Van Wyk mentored a whole generation of emerging writers. In 1979, he published his only poetry collection, It Is Time to Go Home.

And now, My Mother’s Laughter brings together a selection from the debut volume, also the poems which appeared in Van Wyk’s memoirs, and includes previously unpublished work, showcasing the much-loved author’s poetic talent.

Inescapably, many of the poems from It Is Time to Go Home are set against the socio-political landscape of its time, but even decades later they radiate an energy of awareness and resistance that seems timeless and inspires to action against injustice. My Mother’s Laughter opens with “Metamorphosis”, a poem signalling transgenerational concerns about how historical events such as the Sharpeville massacre and the Soweto Uprising influenced and politicised whole generations of South Africans – a young son, “fidgeting around his [father’s] work-worn body / asking questions at his shaking head”, as a teenager trying to make sense of the world “after June 16”, ends up comprehending what was and is at stake: “I nod my head. / I understand.” Despite the horrors witnessed and the struggles which followed, the sense of hope for a better tomorrow does not abandon the poet. One day, he assures, hearts “will throb / to the rhythm of a drum / And all of Africa will dance”.

The political poems are interspersed with tender love poems, dedicated to Kathy, Van Wyk’s future wife. They were married in 1980 and had two sons. “I am happy here; / just being against your navel”, the poet declares in “You Must Never Know I’m Writing You a Love Poem”.

The previously uncollected poems evoke a strong sense of home and community, how the world infiltrates both with its deeply troubled realities, but also how family bonds and friendships as well as commitment can, if not shelter you from the worst, at least allow you to confront it. They are tributes to heroes of the struggle and heroes of the everyday alike. Van Wyk remembers his “ouma’s yard” and how the “black words / on the white sheets” of the books she bought for them were “like coal strewn across a field of snow.” Equally, his “mother’s laughter” sustained the family throughout the harsh winter of oppression.

My Mother’s Laughter: Selected Poems

Chris van Wyk

Deep South, 2020

Review first published in the Cape Times on 4 September 2020.