Thursday, May 26, 2011

TJ Dema Interviews Me

Botswana's well known poet TJ Dema interviewed me on her blog about my recent shortlisting for the Caine Prize, my thoughts on writing in Botswana, and a few other things. You can read the entire interview at her blog, here is a small excerpt:

TJ: The short story that has been shortlisted for the Caine prize was published in South Africa by the independent publisher Modjaji what does that say, if anything, about publishers/publishing in Botswana? In other words why aren't local publishers crawling all over each other to publish a multi-award winning writer such as yourself?

No – no one is crawling anywhere near me. When I was shortlisted I got emails of congratulations from only two of my book publishers (I currently have books published with five publishers, two are in Botswana) both are South African trade publishers. I don’t think publishers here give a hoot about any literary prizes because most of them are not book and writer lovers. It may sound bitter, but that’s how it appears.

What does it take for a (an African) writer to be noticed by a panel of international judges?

I really don’t know. To be honest contests are subjective. I think you need to get the basics down and then it is really up to what that group of judges likes. I can give a perfect example. My story The Christmas Wedding which won the two prizes in the AngloPlatinum Short Story Contest was recently seriously bashed by a quite prominent South African editor. It’s just the parameters of this game. It’s subjective and you’ll never please everyone.

Thanks again TJ!


Helen Ginger said...

It does make you wonder. Judges have their own biases. You'd think they could put them aside and read an entry without prior judgment. I don't know if that's possible, but it does seem like it should be what they strive to do.

Lauri said...

Helen, I think even if robots were to judge fiction there would be bias. When you get past the technical, good fiction has a little bit of magic that can't be described. Judging it will always be subjective.