Published by Maskew Miller Longman, Cape Town, 2011
This dramatic novel for young adults is set on a Karoo farm. The protagonist, Stefan, is dominated by his bitter, manipulating mother, while his father seeks to escape from both the past and the daily grind on the farm. The reader is swept along on a journey of misunderstandings, desperation with glimmers of hope that things might change. The story specifically focuses on the complex relationship between parents and children.
“This story impressed me right from the get go. It kicks off with an original event that creates immediate suspense and places the characters in a dramatic setting.” – Riana Scheepers, acclaimed writer, competition judge and member of the South African Academy of Science & Arts
Winner: Maskew Miller Longman Award for Youth Literature, 2011
The Elephant in the Room is a story of secrets, warped friendships and addiction. At the heart it’s about how families guard each other’s secrets with the hope of keeping up appearances or protecting each other, but with disastrous consequences.
The novel is set in Kalk Bay, the Overberg and Plumstead from about 1984 to 2000. The central character is a girl, Lily, and the action follows her experiences as the family moves first to her grandparents’ farm in the Overberg, and later back to Cape Town. The story explores the influence various strong characters, most notably Lily’s grandmother and her classmate Vera, have on Lily. We witness the creation of a brittle self-esteem, and dysfunctional notions of body, eating and food.
While the depiction of addiction is gritty at times, it is no more gritty than James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces, Marya Hornbacher’s Wasted (a memoir of anorexia and bulimia) or Whiplash, a recent South African novel centred around a prostitute working the streets of Muizenberg. This grittiness is somewhat new to literature on eating disorders in South Africa (thus making it not only shocking but also original). The Elephant in the Room is a disturbing but charming read with plenty of humour to contrast with, and thus heighten, the drama.
Justin Fox has just released an ebook, Unspotted: One Man’s Insane Search for Africa’s Most Elusive Leopard,with Mampoer.
Quinton Martins is a patient man, if only when it comes to the Cape mountain leopard. In the harsh mountains of the Cederberg, he spends months in icy cold conditions tracking them, often with as little to go on as faint spoor or partially decomposed scat. Justin Fox spends time in the Cederberg with this half-man, half-leopard, conservationist, to learn more about the madness that keeps Quinton in the mountains day in and day out.
From Paul Theroux and Peter Moore to Jonny Steinberg, J M Coetzee, Jonathan Kaplan, Nelson Mandela, Mamphela Ramphele, Tom Eaton, Breyten Breytenbach, Pieter-Dirk Uys and Gabeba Baderoon: Discover Cape Town with contemporary authors.