News From South Africa

By Mike Nicol

I started reporting on South African crime fiction for International Thriller Writers back in October 2008. That was the start of the local version of the genre in SA.  Somewhat of an explosion as it turned out.

Up until 2006, crime thrillers were a big hole in the country’s literature. Sure there had been James McClure and Wessel Ebersohn, and June Drummond had produced a number of crime novels set in South Africa during her writing career which went back to the 1950s, but for the most part there was a gap.

Into that gap stepped the translations of Deon Meyer’s books in the late 1990s and these were followed by Richard Kunzmann’s three Harry Mason and Jacob Tshabalala novels which appeared between 2004 and 2008.

In 2006, a number of new writers emerged but it was really 2008/2009 that became the genre’s breakout period in South Africa.  In those years, books were produced by Meyer, Kunzmann, Margie Orford, Roger Smith, Wessel Ebersohn, Michael Stanley, Jassy Mackenzie, Sue Rabie, Peter Church, and I, too, jumped on the bandwagon.

All those writers are still producing the goods and some new names have crept into the list.  All in all there is now a solid foundation to support what I hope will be an ever growing number of titles.

My tenure as the ITW reporter has now come to an end and Michael Sears – part of the Michael Stanley writing duo who have produced three Inspector Kubu novels over the last four years – will take over with the February 2012 column.

But until then here are some links which will click you through to Crime Beat and three fascinating discussions with very different crime writers: in the first Roger Smith discusses his DUST DEVILS; in the second Chris Marnewick answers a Q&A about his third thriller, A SAILOR’S HONOUR; and in the third a new voice, that of H J Golakai talks about her novel, THE LAZARUS EFFECT.

My thanks to ITW and all the loyal readers for the support you have given SA crime fiction over the last three and a bit years.  It’s been much appreciated.  Sala kahle – go well.

Mike Nicol

Mike Nicol is a journalist and writer and now a hard-core crime fiction addict. He's published two crime novels - Payback and Our To Score (a co-authorship), and is a founder of the blog Crime Beat. He lives on Cape Town's peninsula, up a mountain, in the teeth of the wind.

Visit Mike at: www.crimebeat.book.co.za.

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