Thursday, March 23, 2017

For those in the past in the world above.

IT SEEMS UNLIKELY that you are reading this. It is written after you are gone. And yet the singularity herself, from which all sprang, demonstrates that nothing is impossible. Keep that thought in mind. Nothing is impossible. It is an axiom and a pun and an article of faith. If you cannot accept it then you must block your ears now. Get out now, while you can, gentle reader, because this chronicle contains events so capriciously violent, so violently capricious, that they become their opposite, not chance but destiny.
            Are you with me still? Then we are entangled, you and I. We are particularly entangled, and though entire universes interpose between us we will spin in tune and as your tune changes then so will mine and so the story may be heard. It is the story of the digging as told to me by those survivors who knew both your world and ours. It is informed and illuminated by the books which Jack Delfan treasured and those texts which the Partner carried in the memory banks of his ATV and copied to the motherdrive in the chamber of the book. I tell it, with what art I can muster, for your people and for mine. I tell it that we might have faith in the grace of the all, the nothing, that we might have faith that a world can be again.
            Know that the earth changed in the years before the flood. The very seas dried up and great ships lay in the sand. Jack Delfan was among the last to tend the animals on the continent that was called Africa. And then he washed his hands of saving the wild and commenced to dig. He chose a spot in the lee of a monstrous tanker because of the shelter and stores the anachronism offered, and because it was a place where compasses went haywire. He calculated it would be hard to find. There, the patriarch bent his back to the spade for some years.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

An Experiment in Publishing

"The singularity herself, from which all sprang, demonstrates that nothing is impossible."
The Excavations

Sometime in the 1980s, my friend and cousin, Ian Roberts (actor and front man of the Radio Kalahari Orkes) visited my half-brother, Lochart Whyle,in Botswana. Ian borrowed a  4×4 from Lochart and traveled into the desert. He met a group of San bushmen and shared some adventures with them. On his return to Johannesburg, Ian wrote for seven days and seven nights and then he brought me what he had written. It was called Dig and was aimed at the screen, but it looked to me like a book. Dig was the story of the end of the world, a tale so strange and shocking that it has been whispering to me, as it has to Ian, ever since. Over the years we have written it, separately and together, in various forms. In 2013, with Ian's permission, I wrote it as a novel, The Excavations.

  In 2014 Jacana, who published The Book of War and Walk, agreed to publish The  Excavations. Then Maggie Davey "left the building for a time" and I became despondent and a little arrogant. With the contract ready to be signed, I took the novel to Umuzi where Fourie Botha was interested but unable to fly its outrages past his committee. Jacana were, justifiably, not happy with me. The project was dead, and I shifted gear from arrogance to despond. At the end of 2015 I bumped into Maggie Davey at an art exhibition. She was back at Jacana. I told her I had not found a publisher. For a time the "wonderfully strong and completely captivating" book was under consideration again. But fate was only flirting. Jacana's second answer, couched in the kindest terms, was no.


This is the age of Trump, however. The climate is changing, nothing is impossible, and there's a whiff of extinction in the air. The Excavations  will be available, on Kindle only, at a bargain basement price, from Tuesday the 21st of March.    

Friday, September 14, 2012

Best debut - M-Net Literary Awards


M-Net Literary Award.

"A brilliant, unforgettable debut. Steeped in carnage. ... grips from the outset and soaks the imagination like blood in sand."
Andrew Donaldson in The Times.

"One is thrown ... into the heart of the action, in a state of dread and fascination induced by the dire events, the pristine setting and the perfection of the writing."
Mail & Guardian.

"A plot that circles like a vulture ... it is to the historical novel what David Lynch was to the TV drama."
Charl Blignaut in City Press

"Cuts to the bone."
GQ South Africa

"Can be reckoned with Denys Reitz's Commando."
Die Burger

"A triumphant mix of evocative period detail and modern social and political resonance."
The Witness

"In a sober style made out of short sentences, hand-picked words and balanced rhythm Whyle shows war for what it really is."
Hadrien Diez on AfricaBookClub.com

"Brutal and detailed."
Cape Times.

"A stunning debut novel, well written and... disturbing."
Pretoria News

"Gripping."
ArtsLink

"Whyle can write."
Business Day

"A great book in every sense of the word."
LitNet

"Brings events of yesteryear shockingly close."
Wanted at Large

All reviews, updated and in full, can be found here.