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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

IN THE MANURE (article first published : 2008-05-17)

Acclaimed former Durban writer Ronnie Govender, now living in Cape Town, has always found himself in the thick of things.

One of South Africa’s most accomplished writers, he was born in 1934 in Cato Manor, which although multi-racial, was dominated largely by the descendants of Indian indentured labourers. He has written and directed more than 16 plays, including Beyond Calvary, At the Edge, The Lahnee’s Pleasure and Off-Side. In 1997, his collection of short stories, At the Edge and Other Cato Manor Stories, won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book in Africa.

His novel, Song of the Atman, described by Professor Kader Asmal as “a South African classic in the making”, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize in 2006. In the same year he was given the Literary Lifetime Achievement Award by the Department of Arts and Culture. In 2007, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arts and Culture Trust.

Recently released, In the Manure is the distinguished writer-playwright’s look back on his long and varied career. At once light-hearted and deadly serious, it unlocks the hidden histories of sports, journalism and the arts in South Africa and explores the legacy of the indentured Indian labourers who built the community of Cato Manor and made major contributions particularly to political change and the nation’s economy.

However, this is also a deeply personal story in which the writer (assuming the persona of his alter ego, Sathie) looks back on his childhood in Cato Manor, his misspent schooldays and his early forays into journalism, teaching and the theatre.

In the Manure is published in paperback and retails at R162. ISBN 978-0-86486-720-9




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