In 2008, Collen Higgs, who had just established a small press, published Tracey Farren’s novel titled Whiplash. The novel went on to become a bestseller and was later was optioned for film.

Higgs recently announced on Facebook that the movie starring Cape Town born actress Christia Visser is finally out. The film adaptation is titled Tess.  The narrative of the book and now film follows the tumultuous life and journey to stability of a Cape Town prostitute named Tess. The author of the book Tracey Farren remarks on her blog that her narrative was “inspired by the feisty street workers” she met during her journalistic research.

Higgs mentions in her Facebook status that she “took a risk” when deciding to publish the début novel that had allegedly been turned down by various publishers for being too violent. We bet those publishers are kicking themselves now as the book (admittedly violent in some parts) was shortlisted in the 2009 Times Literary Awards and is now critically-acclaimed film.

The cinematography is stunning and, from what we’ve seen from the trailer, the acting is on point.


Award-winning filmmaker Meg Rickards is also deserving of praise. She did an amazing job of portraying difficult subjects such as drug addiction, rape and unwanted pregnancy.

Nollywood enthusiasts would be pleased to know that Nigerian actress Nse Ikpe-Etim is also featured in the movie.



Rickards tells Variety that in order to successfully achieve the unadulterated realism of the film she had to “chuck the kid gloves away” and face the narrative head on.

It’s amazing that the narrative has not lost momentum after 9 years and we cannot wait for the film to have us at the edge of our seats!

Watch the trailer here.


  1. Film Adaptation of Tracey Farren’s Novel Whiplash Wins at Durban Film Fest | PEN South Africa - 2016/09/13

    […] Read more about the project and watch the trailer on Brittle Paper. […]

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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