The irish based award is the richest prize in fiction and also probably the fairest as this is compiled from a 163 libraries in the English-speaking world and from 123 cities ,the shortlist was announced today .It was really good to see three translated works on the list this year –

shortlist –

The short listed titles are:

  1. The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker  (Dutch) in translation. Harvill Secker      -is a debut novel by the dutch writer Gerbrand Bakker ,it is about twins in the 50’s and 60’s in holland and what happens after an accident that leads to one twin taking other the other twin in running the family farm.                                                                                                                                                                                            

    the twin

  2. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (Moroccan / French) in translation. Europa Editions, USA, Gallic Press, UK           -a book about two women in paris ,a look at classes in france .                                                          

    the elegance of hedgehog

  3. In Zodiac Light  by Robert Edric  (British) Doubleday, UK         -the story follows a poet Ivor Gurney after the first world war as he struggles with his own sanity .                                                                                                                                                                                                          

    in zodiac light

  4. Settlement  by Christoph Hein  (German) in translation. Metropolitan Books      -this book follows on man rise in post war germany ,and what this rise brings and takes from him .                                                                                                                                                                         


  5. The Believers by Zoë  Heller (British). Fig Tree          -this book follows a couple Audrey and Joe over forty years after they elope to the us in the 60’s                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

    the believers

  6. Netherland  by Joseph O’Neill  (Irish) Fourth Estate, Harper Collins, UK, Pantheon Books, USA       -man struggles after divorce in post 9-11 new york finds peace in cricket .                                                                                                                                           


  7. God’s Own Country  by Ross Raisin  (British) Viking          -we follow classic anti-hero Sam around yorkshire as he hunts  .                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

    god's own country

  8. Home  by Marilynne Robinson (American) Farrar, Straus & Giroux, USA, Harper Collins, Canada                  – follows Rev John Ames   a minster in Gilead in a companion piece to her other novel Gilead.                                                                                                                    


 I have only read Netherland ,which i found a little lightweight and disappointing.i want to read the twin and settlement ,it would be nice if one of these one .

The purple violet of Oshaantu by Neshani Andreas

the purple violet

notes-This is another one of Heinemanns wonderful african writer series ,it is the debut novel from Neshani Andreas a Namibian ,she is trained as a teacher and currently works in the education field in Namibia ,she is working on her second novel .she was born in Wavis bay but her family originates from the northern area of Namibia that this novel is set.she also worked for five years as a teacher in this rural area of Namibia .

The book-The book is about a young married girl Kauna and told in the whole from the perspective of her best friend and confidant Mee Ali a slightly older married girl in the village they live .The book starts with Kauna seeing the one of the elder ladies in the village and telling her about her abusive relationship with her husband Shange ,she is told in no uncertain terms this is the way things are and to grin and bare it ,this discussion was meant to be private but soon becomes common knowledge in the village ,shortly after this Shange unexpectionally dies .At first people are reassuring to Mee kanua but over a period of time she becomes suspect of being a witch and causing Shanges death ,she ends up with nothing as all Shanges property reverts to his family ,Mee Ali tries to help her friend the best she can as she sees her world fall apart .

It is that time of year again .The season when our village Oshaantu ,camouflage its self in a rich green carpet and provides a breathtaking sight ,especially from our homestead,which is built on an incline .I wish time would stand still .We had goo rains this year and are promised plenty to eat .

the opening lines of the purple violet of Oshaantu .

My view – I really wanted to read this book when i saw it at the library ,as i sometime work with a relief member of staff at work that originally comes from Namibia , this book has a number of levels it a story of a close friendship between to women ,an insight into village life ,an example of how females fit into Namibian society ,which is quite low by the novel .It slotted in nicely after reading Damon Galgut book set in Namibia ,that was about city life were as this book is about rural life .


An interview with Neshani Andreas


Have you read any other Namibian writers ?

April 2010


%d bloggers like this: