Fiona Snyckers

Should local writers always set their books in South Africa?

Along with spending too much time on Facebook and perusing the sidebar of shame on the Daily Mail website, deciding where to set one’s novel provokes feelings of intense guilt in South African writers. When writers get together, either socially or on formal discussion panels, they often confess to feeling conflicted about where to set…

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The curse of being liked by the wrong people

There is a fundamental belief in the field of liberal arts that art has an intrinsic value. Marxist theory made out a good case for art being merely a commodity with a market value like any other, but the notion of inherent value refuses to die. Cultural relativism, similarly, has attempted to connect the value…

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Let them eat cake

This morning I crawled off an overnight flight from Paris, gave thanks for unlimited bandwidth, and started scrolling through Twitter. There I found an opinion piece by Peter Delmar on the Times Live site. I paused to read it because he had obviously been to Paris for a family holiday, just as I had. I…

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JK Rowling’s anonymous stunt is not unprecedented

Yesterday the news leaked that a well-received crime novel The Cuckoo’s Calling by debut novelist Robert Galbraith was actually penned by JK Rowling. The story made headlines just in time for the Sunday news cycle – traditionally a quiet phase in world media. A story of that magnitude should by rights have dominated all talk…

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White writers writing black characters – a form of literary blackface?

White South African writers who create black characters are often challenged about the authenticity of their writing. If their main protagonist is black, this challenge intensifies, and if they write in the first person, it intensifies further. There is something particularly intimate about first-person narrative. It gets under the skin of the character in a…

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Local erotic fiction goes global

In the same week that South Africa’s first mainstream erotic novel for women hit shelves, a major publishing deal was announced that is poised to take local erotica worldwide. There are those who chose to link these two events with the horrific rape and murder of Anene Booysen — the implication being that women’s erotic…

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Put Nigella down

Cookbooks are a perennial favourite at Christmas time. They are as much fun to give as to receive because the giver stands a good chance of being invited over for dinner to try out a new recipe. We all like to be thought of as the kind of person who has an inner gourmet just…

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The only responsibility of a young adult author is to tell a good story

Teenagers are easy to influence. Their plastic minds are wide open to suggestion from just about any source, except for their parents or other authority figures. Popular culture seems to play a particularly large role in shaping their behaviour. In the literary world, this has led to a great deal of introspection on the part…

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Is crime fiction ready for black villains?

Crime fiction has come a long way. A 100 years ago, if a character in a crime novel had dark skin, a hooked nose, differently-shaped eyes, or even just an accent, it was a known signifier of villainy. These tropes were recognised and accepted by readers and writers alike. It must have made writers’ lives…

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Policing women’s erotic choices

Sex sells. This is not breaking news. From medieval monks doodling erotic drawings in the margins of their illuminated manuscripts to naughty Victorians printing salacious postcards, the urge to celebrate sex in art and literature is nothing new. It is also not new for women to want a slice of the erotic market for themselves….

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