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#LongStorySHORT is a pop-up literary event hosted in Pretoria. 

Over the past few months, fans of African literature have been taking over spaces in selected community libraries to enjoy and celebrate African fiction.  Local media personalities are invited to read an excerpt from a short story or novel. Videos of the readings are then posted on Youtube and converted into podcasts. With Kgauhelo Dube as producer and Yewande Omotosho as curator, the events have been very successful and have become a favorite among literary enthusiasts. 

We are pleased to share Xiluva Maswangaye’s lovely recap of the 7th edition of #LongStorySHORT, featuring a novel by Zukiswa Wanner.

Make sure to scroll all the way down to see all the photos. 

Enjoy! 

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It was sunny South African Spring day when Renate Stuurman read an excerpt from Zukiswa Wanner’s an London, Cape town, Joburg. This time the 7th #longstorySHORT activation was held at a U-The Space, a quirky and inviting café hidden amongst the many flats of Sunnyside, Pretoria.

The team from the independent bookstore African Flavour Books popped-up with rare treats of African Literature that make you want to spend all your life savings on setting up an African Literature home library without considering whether you even have space.

The day began with writers, performers and booklovers mingling and giggling over some popcorn and beverages. They were passionately discussing writers’ struggles and how to navigate the rough terrain of getting published and being published. As an 18 year-old aspiring writer, I found these fly-on-the-wall tidbits very enlightening.

Then the bell rang. It was time for the reading to begin.

Everyone found a cozy spot on the floor in the informal library at U-The Space. To open the programme, some poetry was recited in Setswana by an elder Lizzy Mayeng. When Renate began reading from Wanner’s novel, we all got lost in the life of Zuko and his mixed family.

We got back to reality only to share what we had experienced with Zukiswa herself (a rare treat to have the writer who wrote the story present at a reading), with Renate and #longstorySHORT MC Masello Motana.. It was stimulating to feel how literature exposed paradigms that kept us stagnant.

The question and answer session after the reading focused on the issue of “access”. SA publisher Thabiso Mahlape, Swedish publisher Svante Weyler were there to speak from a publishers’ perspective with Zukiswa Wanner speaking as a writer and Fortisciue Helepi speaking from a bookseller’s perspective.

The pin dropped when Mr Helepi said that innovative strategies need to be adopted when selling books to Africans. For example, at African Flavour Books, they allow customers to “lay-buy” books and collect them when they have finished paying. Hmm, makes so much sense when so many people are already used to buying furniture and clothing that way!

In my opinion, the producers of #longstorySHORT are in the forefront of a sophisticated African Literature movement. Through these readings, I have been exposed to stories, professional writers and other players in the world of books and publishing. These are people that I’d never have met otherwise.

It doesn’t hurt that I also get to watch every reading online to relive the wonder!

Click HERE, to watch all the videos.

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Zukiswa Wanner

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Renate Stuurman and Xiluva Xilu Maswanganye

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Kgauhelo Dube and André Mkandawire

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Mme Molawa, Mama Lizzy and Thato

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Renate Stuurman

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Kgauhelo Dube and Tlou Masello Motanapitsi

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African Flavour Books

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Ntate Helepi from African Flavour Books

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Nontsikelelo Mapoma [Middle]

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Daliwonga Pantshwa

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Svante Weyler

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Kgauhelo Dube, Zukiswa Wanner, Yewande Omotoso and Panashe Chigumadzi

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Sphiwe Clarence [top right] and Given Azah Mphago [middle]

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Phindi Maduna

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Images by Reatile Moalusi via #LongStorySHORT Facebook Page.

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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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