Maya Fowler: As jy ‘n ster sien verskiet

“When you see a shooting star”

Published by Tafelberg, Cape Town, 2011

Ricky, aged 14, has been suspended from school for bad behaviour. Ricky’s absentee father is represented only by a monthly maintenance payout. Her older brother Wayne is dying of Aids after running away from home and getting hooked on drugs. Her hippie mother, who sobered up for a while, goes back to alcohol after Wayne’s death and does even less mothering than before.
 After Wayne’s death, Ricky runs away and works in another small town in a restaurant at a filling station. But then things happen which give her a reason to go back home, to face once again the life she left behind.

  • Shortlisted for Sanlam prize for youth literature
  • Shortlisted for MER prize
  • The manuscript is available in English under the title Detour

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Maya Fowler: Om op eiers te dans

“Dancing on Eggshells”

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

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Maya Fowler: The Elephant in the Room

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.

  • Shortlisted for Herman Charles Bosman award

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Click here for more info on Maya Fowler.