It was the perfect Joburg experience: afternoon thunderstorms with hail and lightning, followed by a rainbow arcing over Auckland Park, going to claim a prestigious literary prize (my first ever South African award), The University of Johannesburg Prize, with my brilliant editor, Helen Moffett as my date, lovely people passionate about local lit, powerful, moving speeches, photos with Dominique Botha, winner of the UJ Prize for best debut and best Afrikaans novel for False River, remembering to thank my brilliant editor, great conversation after, followed by… a smash and grab attack at the traffic lights (my first ever Joburg crime experience), and straight after, the couple behind me made me pull over to check if I was okay, and as I parked at the garage, we met a young couple who had also been hit by the same gang minutes before and who allowed me to use their phone to tweet for help. It was perfectly Joburg – a crappy thing followed immediately by the true spirit of the city, kindness, generosity, friendliness, care.
This city, man. I’d move back in a heart beat.
Read the University of Johannesburg Prize announcement: “This highly innovative novel blends time travel, serial killers, mystery and the evolution of Chicago in the twentieth century, all within the framework of Beukes’s magical imaginings and rendered in beautifully constructed prose.”
Read the speeches from the prize-giving, including mine, in which, unlike the Arthur C Clarke Award, which is the last time I wore this dress, I remembered to thank my brilliant editor.
SNIP: “There’s a scene in the novel where Kirby, who’s had a terrible attack happen to her, is talking to Dan, who asks her why she doesn’t just let it go, get over it. And Kirby pulls down her scarf, which she wears to hide the slit where he tried to cut her throat. And she says: “How am I supposed to let this shit go?” And we cannot let this shit go. We have to hold onto our anger about femicide. And of course it’s not committed by serial killers, it’s committed by the men who are supposed to love us.”
Pose-y photos of author and editor admiring the view over Joburg and holding on to pole for pre-award jitters, much helped by wine: