Formerly 'Rambling with a cantankerous old mule"
Last night I attended a swanky literary awards ceremony at the Emoyeni Estate in Johannesburg. Originally known as Highfield Manor, the Edwardian-style villa Emoyeni (which means “up in the air” in Zulu) was built in 1905 for Henry Hull, who would become the Union of South Africa’s first minister of finance. With its striking views over Johannesburg’s northern suburbs and the lights of Hillbrow, it was the perfect setting for the Sanlam Prize for Youth Literature 2011/2012, for which my brother Neil’s first novel The Magyar Conspiracy had been nominated.
My brother, who is headmaster of Penryn Preparatory School in the Lowveld, took up writing a few years back as a hobby. After his book had been rejected by a publisher, an old friend of my mother’s suggested that he enter the competition, which had 109 entries this year. Since hearing that his book had been accepted, our family has been following its progress with much excitement. This included the announcement months back that Tafelberg publishers would be publishing the novel, a coming-of-age adventure story aimed primarily at teenage boys:
Sandy is a great athlete, the son of a Hungarian father and a South African mother. Shortly before he joins his schools’ water polo team to compete in Hungary, his father dies on a mountain climbing outing in Cape Town. Everyone thinks it was an accident, but Sandy’s suspicions were aroused by two men he saw on the mountain path that morning. When he leaves for Hungary he goes in search of much more than a water polo medal – he needs answers about his father’s past …
Champagne was enjoyed out on the verandah, small-talk was exchanged, and finally the time for the announcement of winners was to be made: The Magyar Conspiracy winning the silver medal in the English category!
The book is already in book shops throughout South Africa and online (and should be out in e-book format soon) and Neil is busy with a short book-signing, interview-giving tour.
Congratulations to my brother the writer … May there be many more books and awards to come.
* Photos are mine and mostly SOOC (straight out of the camera).