From 10 March 2014, Water Music is Apple's Book of the Week. And for this week it's FREE!
Click here to buy Water Music on iTunes.
Oscar Pistorius trial: the imaginary black stranger at heart of the defence
South African novelist describes how case taps into painful narrative in which race, sex, power and violence converge
Tuesday 4 March 2014
The murder trial of Oscar Pistorius is gearing up to be a John Grisham-style courtroom drama. It will be a battle of “expert” opinions because the uncontested fact is that on Valentine’s Day last year Pistorius fired four shots at close range through a locked bathroom door and killed Reeva Steenkamp. This is not in dispute.
What is in dispute is his claim that he did not intend to kill his girlfriend. He says he was shooting at somebody else; that he thought there was an “intruder” in the bathroom; that this killing was a mistake; that it was not just another South African femicide.
Laura Palmer from Head of Zeus in the UK has acquired the rights to Margie Orford's Clare Hart series, which is published locally by Jonathan Ball. The deal was brokered by Orford’s agent, Isobel Dixon. Head of Zeus will publish Gallows Hill next year along with re-issues of the previous books in the series, Daddy’s Girl, Blood Rose and Like Clockwork. The latest book, Water Music, will be published thereafter.
Palmer said that Orford “is a brilliant, sophisticated crime writer dealing with universal themes in an unusual setting. At Head of Zeus, we’re looking forward to publishing all of her novels with fabulous new packaging, and bringing Clare Hart to a wider British readership.”
Orford said that she is “delighted that the Clare Hart series has found such a stylish home in Head of Zeus and it will be such a pleasure to be working with Laura Palmer again.”
Margie's new novel, Water Music, her fifth in the Clare Hart series, was launched in South Africa in July 2013.
When an emaciated child is found on an icy Cape mountainside, profiler Dr Clare Hart is baffled that no one has reported her missing. Where does she come from, who does she belong to? To further complicate matters, a distraught man pleads with Clare to find his missing granddaughter, Rosa, a gifted but troubled young cellist who has abandoned her music scholarship.
Read more about Water Music.
In May 2013, Margie visits the United Kingdom, talking at Cambridge and York Universities.
21 May, 5 p.m.: Margie will be talking on The Grammar of Violence: South African crime as fiction, Faculty of English, Cambridge University. Enquires to Chris Warnes: cgw26 [at] cam.ac.uk.
23 May, 5 p.m.: York University Writer in Residence, Gillian Slovo, and Margie Orford will discuss PEN, justice and the creative process, York University. More details here.
In April and May 2013, Margie will be visiting New York City talking crime and fiction. She will take part in the PEN America World Voices Festival 2013 and will be talking about the Grammar of Violence at the City University of New York. Click below for more information on her events:
30 April, 7 p.m.: 2013 PEN Literary Gala, hosted by Philip Roth.
1 May, 7 p.m.: Margie will be talking on The Grammar of Violence: South African crime as fiction, CUNY
3 May, 6:30 p.m.: A Literary Safari, World Voices Festival, hosted at the Westbeth Center for the Arts, New York’s oldest artist’s community.
4 May, 5 p.m.: South Africa in Two Acts, World Voices Festival. Peter Godwin, Zakes Mda, Siphiwo Mahala and Margie Orford will discuss literature, accountability, crime and fiction.
In October 2012, Margie wrote on censorship in response to a theme at the Edinburgh World Writers' Conference
Censorship is a recent and painful memory for South Africans. In an event organized for the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Liu Xiabo, several of the writers invited to read in his honour had been imprisoned for writing things the state did not like and seen their works banned. Many of the books I wished to read as a student at the University of Cape Town were banned. One needed special permission to read certain or you needed to travel to places where knowledge and imagination breathed easier. Being in possession of banned books carried heavy jail penalties.
Some people feel that crime fiction is the only way in which they can raise social issues that they feel very strongly about. Do you feel that that is true?
I’m a storyteller first and foremost, but murder, cruelty and power have been central to stories since the first fire in the first cave. Crime fiction, though, takes place in the urban mean streets where social issues play out – poverty and affluence, danger for women, the history of a complicated society. So those social issues grow out of that – everybody comes from somewhere. They carry the social with them.
"Frigging smart woman – and a hell of a lot more than just fine, I’d say." The Daily Maverick's Mandy de Waal interviews Margie in an in-depth feature in March 2012.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Elizabeth the First. Fierce and free and the boss. Fabulous red hair. Arch suitor manipulator. And a woman who knew how to power play in what was absolutely a man’s world. She was also erudite and wrote wonderful letters. Her speech to her troops before they went to war against the Spanish Armada is incomparable. I recite it to my children every day before they go to school. Works every time. They leave. I get to be alone.
Alex Smith poses the Proust questionnaire to Margie on the BooksLIVE website. Read it here.
Click here to see video of an interview with Tara Moss, crime writer and television anchor for 13th Street, Australia’s dedicated crime and thriller channel.
Click here to download a radio interview with ABC's RadioNational's Late Night Live show on women and crime writing.
Margie, you said in an interview that Daddy’s Girl is a prequel to your two other Dr Clare Hart novels, Like Clockwork and Blood Rose. It is my favourite of all your Clare Hart novels to date. Did you find it difficult to go back in fictional time to write about events preceding the other two novels? Did this happen by accident or did you plan to write the prequel even before you wrote the other two? Is it difficult to write in reverse, as it were?
Daddy’s Girl is the prequel – but I had not planned it that way. With Like Clockwork I just held my breath and jumped into the deep end of the crime fiction pool. I had not realised, though, how central the relationship between Clare Hart and Captain Riedwaan Faizal was going to be to all the novels. Milan Kundera wrote that the rules of a relationship are set within the first 20 minutes of their meeting. I thought I needed to know what happened in those first 20 minutes between Clare and Riedwaan. The kernel of the back-story was there in Like Clockwork. So I went back to it. I loved writing Daddy’s Girl – harrowing as it is – because the time of the novel was so tight – 72 hours. It is hard to predict where a writing path will take one – so writing the prequel was just part of the path that I have set myself on. One always writes without a map, so Daddy’s Girl was a way of discovering the topography of my characters’ world.
Click here to read the full interview.
Gallows Hill has had some excellent coverage and reviews since its release:
'It's got the snappy dialogue and the meticulous forensic detail you've come to expect from a Clare Hart thriller. But it's also got something different.' Jacqui L'Ange, The Times. Read more.
'Margie Orford, South Africa’s queen of crime writing, is almost anthropological in her study of how humans live and die.' Karabo Kgoleng, City Press. Read more.
Margie's South African publishers, Jonathan Ball, are promoting Margie as the Queen of South African Crime Fiction this holiday season with this fabulous poster series which will promote her books in CNA stores.
GALLOWS HILL, the new Clare Hart thriller, is released in South Africa in October 2011. Margie has a full tour of events and engagements planned.
‘Margie Orford is the queen of South African crime thriller writers…’ Sue Grant-Marshall, The Weekender
The woman lay curled up inside the small box. She had been jammed into it. Her head must have pressed up against the top, her feet against the bottom. Her belly would have pressed painfully against her lungs, her thighs. If she had been alive to feel it.
A dog scavenging in an illegal building site digs up a bone. A human bone. She drags it back to where her mistress lies dead in an abandoned shed, but there are hundreds more … Skeletons which have lain undisturbed for centuries beneath Gallows Hill, where Cape Town’s notorious gibbets once stood.
Investigative profiler Dr Clare Hart is called in by Captain Riedwaan Faizal of the SAPS Gang Unit and soon discovers that a deadly, more recent secret lies hidden among these long-buried bones. Who was the woman in the green silk dress? Who wanted her dead? Who buried her body among these ancient graves?
As Clare Hart gets closer to revealing the truth about Gallows Hill, she becomes entangled with a fascinating but vulnerable young woman, and is drawn into a world of art, desire and destructive jealousy. Against the backdrop of corporate corruption and seething political tensions, Clare and Riedwaan’s complex relationship remains as explosive as ever – and their very lives are at risk: the keepers of the secret of the woman in the silk dress will stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.
Gallows Hill is the fourth in Margie Orford’s Clare Hart series, published to acclaim around the world. Be warned – read one Clare Hart novel and you’re hooked!
The UK edition of DADDY'S GIRL, published by Corvus, is now out. Buy it at Amazon.co.uk.
'Orford plots so brilliantly that to stop reading is as harrowing as to carry on.' – Jake Kerridge, Telegraph. Read the whole review here.
Captain Riedwaan Faizal is a member of Cape Town’s elite Gang Unit. Tough and streetwise, he is used to being a target. But when the danger of his anti-gang war envelops his only daughter and he becomes the prime suspect in her abduction, there is little he can do.
He turns to Dr Clare Hart, investigative journalist turned profiler. She is sceptical of Riedwaan Faizal, but she knows only too well what happens when little girls are abducted. Against her better judgement, she agrees to help look for Yasmin.
Their desperate search for the missing child, whose chances of survival diminish with each hour, unravels a web of deception and danger that puts all their lives at terrible risk.
The seventh edition of Wordsetc, South Africa’s foremost literary journal, hit the shelves in March 2010. The publication continues to showcase the best of South African literature. This time around it focuses on crime fiction as a theme. Guest edited by author and editor Joanne Hichens the edition explores the ins and out of the genre, the motivation of crime writers to write crime fiction, and takes a look too at real-life crime in our society.
Read all about Margie Orford’s success – how she makes crime pay – with her Clare Hart series, in the main profile by Sam Beckbessinger.
There are also illuminating essays by writers such as Hichens, Jassy Mackenzie, Sarah Lotz, Richard Kunzmann, Roger Smith, Helen Moffett, Andrew Brown, Justice Malala, Emma Chen, Thembelani Ngenelwa and Megan Voysey-Braig. It’s a feast of reading for the literati or those who simply can’t get enough of South African literature.
'Orford plots so brilliantly that to stop reading is as harrowing as to carry on.' – Jake Kerridge, Telegraph. Read the whole review here.
‘Orford is on top form. Her sense of place - the sandy drear of the Cape Flats, the mank of strip clubs in the daylight hours - is immaculate. Her writing is more assured, pithier, with snub-nosed dialogue and a sprinting pace.’ – Michele Magwood, Sunday Times. Read the whole review here.
‘Orford writes of these things skillfully, economically, lovingly. Her ear for natural dialogue is assured, and she weaves Afrikaans and local argot in seamlessly, without either condescending to the South African reader or pandering to readers elsewhere.’ – Stephanie Alexander, The Witness
‘Margie Orford queen of South African thrillers, has cracked it. Her third book in the Clare hart series, Daddy’s Girl, has delivered the “ball-crushing fear” she aims for.’ – The Weekender
‘To her credit, Orford’s books often have the knack of being impossible to let go of. Her characters feel very true to life, and because she puts a lot of effort into capturing minute details so that her settings acquire depth and become real in reader’s minds.’ – Natalie Bosman, The Citizen
'Orford is one of a select club of South African crime writers who have built an international reading audience. One can see why: she delights in perfectly rendered local colour and lingo, her characters are convincing, the setting – a police force in messy and sometimes dysfunctional transformation – is conveyed with unflinching honesty, and she writes with verve and a crackling energy.' – William Saunderson Meyer, Business Day
‘Margie Orford is guilty of writing a very, very good thriller. Sophisticated plotting, great characters, raw emotions, a satisfying resolution, respectful of, but not slavish to, the genre.’ – John Maytham, (Cape Talk radio host and critic)
‘Margie Orford is to Cape Town what Val McDermid is to the north of England, capturing the seamier side of the Mother City: drugs, prostitution, gangs, police corruption and the clash between policing and political correctness. … Thriller fans will be delighted by this, the latest Clare Hart novel. But, as I said before, the Cape tourist industry, and sections of the South African police, I suspect, will not.’ – Anthony Egan, Mail and Guardian
THE QUARRY is a unique collaboration between Margie Orford and artist Kathryn Smith.
1,000 Hearts: Buy a heart and support Rape Crisis Cape Town.