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S.L. Grey

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Writing Genre Fiction in South Africa

In case you missed it over at the World SF blog, our post on Writing Genre Fiction in South Africa has been published in November’s Something Wicked. Read all about it:

THE OTHER DAY AT a literary festival event (one of the rare occasions when both halves of S.L. Grey have been trundled out in public in the same room) the panel was asked whether South Africa should have its own genre imprint. The audience was made up of some of South Africa’s very loyal SFFH fans, and we think they expected the answer, ‘Yes, of course, it’s a scandal that there isn’t a dedicated genre imprint in South Africa.’ But we and fellow panellists, Lauren Beukes and Tom Learmont, all agreed that there shouldn’t be. The market in South Africa is simply too small to sustain one.

There’s no particular reason to have a dedicated imprint selling local science fiction, fantasy and horror. There’s still very little original novel-length SFFH coming out of South Africa, although it’s clear from District 9 (an example of South African SFF idiosyncrasy which is reaching its retirement date) and Lauren’s marvellous Moxyland and Zoo City, that there is a potential audience for them. There is a very loyal and fanatical SFFH fanbase in South Africa, which devours whatever SFFH it can lay its hands on, and most of this is British and American. Louis worked in a bookshop for years and remembers the round-the-corridor queues at a Terry Pratchett signing, compared with the embarrassing no-show at a signing by Graham Swift who had just that year won the Booker Prize.

Zoo City and Moxyland were published first in South Africa by Jacana, a publisher known for choosing leftfield novels of interest to them. ‘We publish what we like’ is their tagline, more than a nod to the title of murdered struggle icon Steve Biko’s posthumously collected writings, I Write what I Like. Jacana is not making a great deal of money.

It was barely a decision for us to submit The Mall overseas and bypass South African publishing.
Read on at Something Wicked


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