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

LOVELY BEYOND ANY SINGING (article first published : 2006-08-5)

The title of this book comes of course from the opening lines of Alan Paton’s Cry the Beloved Country, describing the hills of Ixopo, and it is appropriate. The book’s sub-title is Landscapes in South African Writing. Helen Moffett, a writer and academic who lives in Cape Town, has compiled what she calls an idiosyncratic collection of pieces from South African literature, excerpts from novels, short stories, poems, travel books, political comment, historical studies.

The range is very wide, from Deneys Reitz, Rudyard Kipling and Anthony Trollope to the modern writers of Africa such as Zakes Mda, Kobus Moolman and the Port Elizabeth poet Mxolisi Nyezwa.

What strikes one is the uniformly high quality of the work offered (which covers nearly 300 pages in this book). To cite just one example, Richard Rive’s reminiscence of life in District Six in Cape Town is a piece of writing that would command attention in any anthology published anywhere.

Older readers will have a sense of nostalgia when they see some of the books represented here: Joy Packer’s Valley of the Vines, Guy Butler’s Karoo Morning, Trevor Huddleston’s Naught for Your Comfort, Percy FitzPatrick’s Jock of the Bushveld.

This is a lovely book, one that you can pick up and read for ten minutes or three hours, and it contains a rich store of local material.

Lovely Beyond Any Singing is published by Double Storey and retails at R135. - Michael Green




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