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‘Those in the know claim Michael K disembarked from a diesel-smoke-spewing truck one overcast morning, looked around, and without missing a beat, chose a spot where he set down a small bucket (red, burnt and disfigured) that contained an assortment of seedlings, some fisherman’s twine and a rudimentary gardening tool – probably self-made.’
How is it that a character from literary fiction can so alter the landscapes he touches, even as he – in his self-imposed isolation – seeks to avoid them? How is it that Michael K, bewildered and bewildering, can remain so fragile yet so present, so imposing without attempting to be so? In this response to JM Coetzee’s classic masterpiece, Life & Times of Michael K, Nthikeng Mohlele dabbles in the artistic and speculative in a unique attempt to unpack the dazed and disconnected world of the title character, his solitary ways, his inventiveness, but also to show how astutely Michael K holds up a mirror to those whose paths he inadvertently crosses. Michael K explores the weight of history and of conscience, thus wrestling the character from the confines of literary creation to the frontiers of artistic timelessness.
In this haunting tale of love and learning, the existential chaos of a life ravaged by circumstance takes on a rhythm of its own, one bound by loss and loneliness, but also an intelligent awareness of self. Sometimes melancholy, sometimes brutal, occasionally funny and infuriating, a journalist-comrade-lover caught up in the shade and shadow of politics and social injustice faces treachery and betrayal on every level.
Set against the backdrop of a cityscape that taunts and tantalises, this is where love fails and passion wanes, “where suffering has no meaning”, where an individual escapes death only to find himself confronted with choices wrought by remorse and retribution, by conscience and character. And yet, with all trauma, there is a distinct musicality to the lyrical unpacking that follows a string of small things …
"I wrestled with life and lost." So begins the story of Michael, a corporate lawyer known to his colleagues and associates as Sir Marvin, who picks his way – sometimes delicately, but more often in his own blundering way – through the unfathomable intricacies that make up a life: love and anger, humility and ambition, trust and distrust, selfishness and selflessness. A flawed individual with an acute understanding of the roads that must be navigated to achieve even the slightest insight into the human condition.
In this study in introspection, embroidered with lyrical prose and astonishing intuition, the hero, meditative and melancholic, is at once both tragic and comic.
Bantubonke is an accomplished and revered jazztrumpeter, composer and band leader in decline - an absent present and inadequate spouse. He lives for art at the expense of all else, an imbalance that derails his life and propels him to the brink of madness and despair.
A story of direct and implied betrayals, Illumination is an unrelenting study of possession and loss, of the beauty and uncertainty of love, of the dangers and intrusions of fame.
Q is diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder and resigns as lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Good Hope in Lumumbaville. In quiet moments he reflects on his childhood; the passing of his mother and the strained relationship with his father. Bernice, his pregnant older lover, vanishes one day – without ever confirming that the baby was his.
Now unemployed, Q’s life takes a peculiar turn as he searches for her. He finds himself on a haphazard journey to Misty Hills. And it is here, in a field of sunflowers, that he may find the answers that he’s been seeking.
The Scent of Bliss is an intimate look into Q’s life as he struggles with his anxiety disorder, the sombre memories of his childhood and the sense of not belonging. This novella is also a love tale that explores anguish and survival, and the absurdities that define the human condition.
I, in my own determined and peculiar ways, to certain approximate and exact degrees, don't think much about life. I am, however, never sure if this conclusion is without some blemish, some residue, however faint; an ounce of madness. To certain inconclusive degrees, it is clear that some of my disappointments awaited me, gathering rust, years before I was born. I have reason to suspect you will find this tale unusual, but not without beauty. Threads of a spider's web perhaps, to be unwound, cautiously, a thread at a time. *** This is the story of a dreamer, 'an average man, ' singled out by fate for an uncertain life. Jailed for 18 years under apartheid for unspecified sins, he emerges into a world that has no place for him. His fluctuating fortunes land him on the unpredictable, bitter-winter streets of Johannesburg, where 'harmlessness' is an 'unfortunate trait, ' but tempestuous skylines offer space to breathe. A trumpet and an indigent dog are his accomplices in survival. But, it is his obsessive love for the erratic, hard-hearted Desiree that remains the one constant in his life and impels his search for the elusive meaning of existence. Through his protagonist - the trumpet-playing philosopher poet - author Nthikeng Mohlele weaves unique magic with words, posing powerful questions in his inimitably individualistic and evocative style. *** Behind this story of love, music and the eternal quest, lies an artistic sensibility as generous as it is complex. The prose is rich in texture, the final effect melancholy and comic in equal proportions. -- J.M. Coetzee, recipient of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature and two-time winner of the Booker Pri
Michael is a respected and haunted South African corporate lawyer - the narrator of this sweeping, intimate and intricate exploration of the plurality and mystery of things: love, grief, fate, lust - but most of all life. Nthikeng Mohlele once again delves into head-cracking and bruising questions, in this coming-out-of and against-age story; told with humour, beauty and calculated rage. Brimming with delicacy and authorial thunder, this part campus novel, part philosophical epistle, is one man's rebellion against `life as we know it'. Rusty Bell is an appallingly wise examination of the perils of being human - by a writer who knows the beauty and savagery of words.
The notion of pleasure in all its guises is one of the oldest and most enduring grand themes of literature, presented here through the eyes and thoughts of writer and dreamer Milton Mohlele.
Thoughtful, eccentric and besieged by the erotic and the sensual, the profane and the redemptive, Milton thinks and writes on pleasure as it is both experienced and imagined. Drawn against the canvas of wartime Europe and modern-day Cape Town, South Africa, Milton sacrifices all for glimpses into the secrets and deceptions of pleasure – and how powerless those apparent insights are in the vast scale of life in its glory and absurdity.
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