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James Whyle's Blog

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Apr.17.2014
The journalist’s problem is that he doesn’t know. He doesn’t know how long the adjournment will last. He has to talk through it, describing what has happened. That is what he is paid for. Sometimes the court adjourns at eleven. Sometimes later. He has learnt that the adjournment for tea should last...
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Mar.03.2014
It was more a smoulder than a spark, a long smoulder, like the fires that burn for decades in disused coal mines, inhibited only by scarcity of oxygen. Sometime in the 1980s, the film maker, Guy Spiller, approached me with an idea for a project. He gave me a book with an unwieldy title, A Source...
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Jan.07.2014
When I was running away from the army in Swaziland I came across Nelson Mandela's book, No Easy Walk to Freedom. It was a time when I had difficulty with any literature except pornography and Doris Lessing. All the devils of the military were on my tail and it was hard to concentrate. But I read...
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Nov.02.2013
  Walk is the story of a journey taken on foot in 1792, a deadly perambulation down the wild coastline of Southern Africa. It started at Lambasi in northern Pondoland and it ended not far from what we now know as Port Elizabeth. It is a hike that every South African should have the privilege...
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Jun.05.2013
James Whyle
Rian Malan: I read somewhere that 'Blood Meridian' was itself begat by a text McCarthy found in an archive.   James Whyle: If a novel works it's because, when you're reading it, you believe it. A novel must be "fictionally true". But to achieve that, it makes sense to build on historical...
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Dec.29.2012
  I was given a Kindle over a year ago, and I'm afraid I have not spent a lot on books since then. There's just so much page turning entertainment that is out of copyright.  The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin cannot be recommended enough. This is travel writing at it's best, the...
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Nov.26.2012
That pleasing assesment of The Book of War comes from a recent review. "Eventually, we realise we are in the Cape Colony during the relentless 100-year Xhosa wars, but Whyle’s nomenclature is archaic and foreign. Its estrangement makes his story universal. The reduction of context, a peeling away...
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Oct.03.2012
Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian is about the North American border wars of the 1830s. The Book of War is about the Southern African border wars of the 1850s. Sir Harry Smith, known in The Book of War as 'the General', the man who was unable to defeat the great Xhosa strategist, Maqoma, was also...
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Sep.14.2012
"A brilliant, unforgettable debut." 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. "Cuts to the bone." GQ South Africa "Can be reckoned with...
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Sep.04.2012
  " You give full credit to Cormac McCarthy for inspiring your harrowing novel, The Book of War. What made you decide to pay tribute to him in this novel, and how did the marriage of your “kid’s” journey coincide with the Eastern Cape Frontier Wars? What made you choose this era in particular...
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Aug.24.2012
The Book of War is now available in the US via AfricanLookBook "A BRILLIANT, unforgettable debut. Steeped in carnage..."   Andrew Donaldson in The Times: "... one is thrown, like them, into the heart of the action, in a state of dread and fascination induced by the dire events, the ­...
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Jul.18.2012
It is Mandela Day in South Africa. This piece was first published by Playboy South Africa to coincide with President Mandela’s inauguration.   When I was running away from the army in Swaziland I came across Nelson Mandela's book, No Easy Walk to Freedom. It was a time when I had...
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May.23.2012
In the event that The Book of War might interest an American reader, if only as a work that grows out of American fiction like Moby Dick and Blood Meridian, here are two sites where the book is available for purchase and shipment. Kalahari.com  (paperback, e-pub & pdf) Exclusive Books (...
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May.18.2012
The Book of War is slowly making its way in the world and has had two published responses. Writing in The Times of Johannesburg, Andrew Dondaldson called it "a brilliant, unforgettable debut, steeped in carnage..."  In the Pretoria News, John Boje gave his assesment: "a stunning debut...
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Apr.16.2012
Is now available, world wide, from Jacana Media.
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