Claire Robertson’s 2014 Sunday Times Fiction Prize winner to be made into a film.

Visionary film-maker Erica Brumage has optioned film rights in the sweeping, gloriously told literary historical novel THE SPIRAL HOUSE by Claire Robertson.

Katrijn van der Caab, freed slave and wigmaker’s apprentice, travels with her eccentric employer from Cape Town to Vogelzang, a remote farm where a hairless girl needs their services. The year is 1794, it is the age of enlightenment, and on Vogelzang the master is conducting strange experiments in human breeding and classification. It is also here that Trijn falls in love.

Brumage says of the book, ‘Claire’s writing is so evocative and her characters so authentic that one can clearly see them inhabiting their era, hear the vivid cadences of their voices and smell and feel the dirt and sweat of their lives… The Spiral House has an originality and vision that demands particular attention’.

On her vision for the adaptation, Brumage says, ‘Claire’s highly original imagining of the origins of race classification which were to become apartheid in the twentieth century is beautifully constructed as it unfolds through the layers of interweaving love stories with richly rounded characters that are human, fallible, sometimes horrific and entirely fascinating. The tensions between them crackle with energy and dramatic promise, and the ebb and flow of the narrative trajectories of the different character pairings create richly dynamic threads against the backgrounds of the social hierarchies and science of the age.  I’m really excited by the performance potential that exists for the cast of actors that we find for these roles.’

THE SPIRAL HOUSE, won the 2014Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize and a South African Literary Award, and was shortlisted for the University of Johannesburg Debut Prize. Robertson has two other novels, THE MAGISTRATE OF GOWERshortlisted for the 2016Sunday Times Fiction Prize, and UNDER GLASS currently long-listed for the 2019 Sunday Times Fiction Prize.

All three books are published by Umuzi, the literary imprint of Penguin Random House.

The acquisition was negotiated by the Lennon-Ritchie Agency.

Fiona Snyckers’s new literary novel LACUNA is a searing, exhilarating and moving response to JM Coetzee’s Booker Prize winning novel DISGRACE.

Lucy Lurie is struggling through PTSD following a gang rape at her father’s farmhouse. The Lucy of Coetzee’s fiction is a passive, peaceful creature, almost entirely lacking in agency. She is the lacuna in Coetzee’s novel—the missing piece of the puzzle.

The Lucy Lurie of Fiona Snyckers’ imagination is no one’s lacuna. Her attempts to claw back her life, and her voice after being gang raped may be messy and misguided, but she won’t be silenced. Her rape is not a metaphor. This is her story.

‘A powerful and brilliant critique of both JM Coetzee’s DISGRACE and contemporary South Africa … Fiona Snyckers makes the reader ponder deeply one minute and laugh loudly the next. A must read.’ Zukiswa Wanner.

‘This book is going to be one of those books we all recognise as one of the most important and best recent novels.’ Eusebius McKaiser, outspoken South African intellectual and broadcaster.

In an interview with Polity SA, Snyckers was asked whether a male writer has the authority to write about a female rape survivor, as Coetzee did in DISGRACE.

‘That is a very difficult question and it’s something that I really wrestled with in this book,’ Snyckers said. ‘I started off thinking, no, what gives you the right as a male writer to talk about such an intimate female experience in this way. But in the end I couldn’t stick to it, I had to come down on the side of, anybody can tell any story. I can’t say, “you can only tell this story and you can only tell that story”. ‘But if you are going to tell a story, you must be prepared for criticism, and you must be prepared for somebody to set up a counter-narrative to your story.’

The book is published in South Africa by Pan Macmillan, click here to enquire about available rights.