Tag Archive: writing


I found this book in at airport Exclusive Books – my favourite place to buy books. I bought it because I liked the idea of reading some African chick-lit. I am not a fan of chick-lit but was interested to see how traditional African chick-lit might differ from Western chick-lit.

The starting point of the story was pretty uniquely African – it is the story of the four wives of a Zimbabwean man, Jonasi, told by each of the women. I know Africans are not the only polygamist people, but I’m mostly sure it is the only place where it is legal.

Set in Zimbabwe this is a story of wealth and indulgence I would not have associated with that country. And that in itself made it interesting. We have all forgotten that Zimbabwe was once a rich, flourishing country. By the end of the story both Zimbabwe and Jonasi have become destroyed by bad decisions, over indulgence and HIV.

I am not sure if this book really is just a silly bit of chick-lit or if a parallel could be drawn between the life of Jonasi and that of Zimbabwe itself. The uncertainty is largely because the book is not very well written. It is very chatty in style and that works for the surface story, but it does mean that if there is any deeper stuff going on, it is hard to see.

The book was also an opportunity to look at the viability of this kind of sexually open relationship in a time of HIV and Aids, but does not manage to engage in any serious comment, again because of the poor writing.

Nyathi has some terrible writing tics which should have been edited out. No one wants to read a paragraph with ‘literally’ or ‘I tell you’ three or four times. It is lazy writing and lazy editing. The same sense of chatting to your friends over a coffee could have been achieved using better writing.

I have seen reviews in which Nyathi’s writing style has been described as sassy and sexy. I must disagree. Sexy and sassy do not mean badly constructed and repetitive. The book is also unnecessarily, and sometimes erroneously, wordy. This is true of many new African writers I have found and I do understand why it happens, but editors should be pruning things a little. The editor of this book did Nyathi a disservice.

That being said it is still very readable and not particularly challenging, an easy dip into the lives of these five people that is immediately forgettable.

I will read another Zimbabwean book because I don’t think it fair that this book be a whole country’s contribution to this collection.

Advertisements

stop stealing IP

I work with writers every day, all bloody day. Some (and by that I mean very very few) are actually professional and a pleasure to work with. Some others (and by that I mean almost every single one) are a nightmare with an attitude problem and an ego which is so far out of proportion in terms of their skills that I am surprised they are not stopped at airport security to explain the odd bulge.

But skill and professionalism can be honed and beaten into people, respectively.

What has shocked me in the most recent project I have been involved with is the dishonesty, lack of integrity, willingness to steal and complete disrespect for the ownership others have of their IP displayed by this bunch of authors.

Were someone to steal even half a sentence of theirs and not pay them a share of royalties earned these authors would be on their high horse, galloping to court faster than the ink could dry on the printing press. But they feel it is okay to lift huge chunks of information from online sources with not even a nod or a wink. No ‘adapted from’ or ‘source….’included. Nope, just text trying to masquerade as original thought. And the morons occasionally don’t even bother to remove the hyperlinks!!

 

I am not sure whether to be angry because they think I am too stupid to notice, or angry because their lazy dishonesty will put the project, and therefore my job, in jeopardy. I think I am actually angry because this industry is so small what one person does reflects on all of us.

Theft is theft – be it a cd, a wallet, a car or intellectual property

Have some respect you pigs!

A Fine Balance

A Fine Balance

by Rohinton Mistry

Without a doubt up there in my best books ever!
I very seldom reread books but this book I shall keep just to reread in a few years. and again a few years after that.

The story of the book tells of the lives of four main characters (and many other important ones) who, through a variety of circumstances and occurrences, land up sharing a flat in an unnamed city in India in the 70s. I want to resist the clichés of describing lives and stories as a rich tapestry; of the smells and sounds of India emerging from the page; of the hardships of lives described making me review my relatively luxurious life, but I actually cannot. This book really does do all of those things. Like the quilt Dina makes with the left over pieces of fabric used to make dresses for the rich, so the lives of the characters are an intricate combination of textures, colours and experiences. and always, these characters are the left over people, the abused by rich society, the discarded.

Mistry pulled me into the lives of the various characters in this book from the very start. I cared about them, got angry with them, cheered them on and wanted to avert my face when pain and suffering befell them. They live on in my thoughts as though real people I spent time with and now miss.

Mistry also pulled me into India in the 70s. I know very little of the history on India, but after reading this book am going to go and find more out. I am fascinated by the time of the setting of this book – how accurate is Mistry? I fear completely. But I want to know.

a most moving book which never wallows in misery.

I really want to know what won the Booker the year this book was short listed – I cannot imagine what was that much better than A Fine Balance