Paperight Young Writers’ Anthology 2013 Winner no. 1: Jenna Solomon

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The woman tried to defend him when the security guard scolded him for hassling the tourists. He protested but spoke softly – nobody heard. The woman did not understand a word and hurriedly left. No doubt her expectations of Africa had now been fulfilled. Joseph cursed. Turning, he smacked the security guard and the next thing he knew, he was making a run for it as he was chased down by a one-man horde.

This is Jenna Solomon, a Grade 10 pupil at the German International School in Cape Town, and the writer of the winning fiction from this year’s Paperight Young Writers’ Anthology. Her short story, “The Harbour Child”, was chosen as the best story out of over a hundred fiction submissions from high school writers across South Africa.

A tale of family, migration and the hardships of urban life, “The Harbour Child” impressed our fiction judge Professor Russell Kashula from Rhodes University’s School of Languages so much that he awarded it first place, earning Jenna a R1000 cash prize.

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We went to DSK’s final school assembly for the term to congratulate Jenna and present her with a certificate and a copy of the Anthology. (Oh, and to speak to the school about Paperight and its awesome exam packs, among other things.)

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Jenna was thrilled with the prize and the honour of being chosen as the best young fiction writer for our inaugural anthology. Her teachers and deputy principal, Mr Christoph Abt, were equally proud of her.

She said she got the idea for “The Harbour Child” from a photo her dad took of Cape Town’s harbour, and set about writing the story after seeing a call for submissions for the Anthology in her school library. (A special advance call for submissions for next year’s anthology is included in this year’s book, so get hold of it now if you want a head start on winning that R1000 prize next year!)

When we sat down to chat with her, we found out that she is looking forward to taking a gap year to travel once she finishes school, and then studying archaeology or journalism afterwards. Her favourite author is probably Eva Ibbotson, though her favourite book is Mary Renault’s Fire from Heaven. We hope that she’ll continue writing, whichever career path this talented youngster ends up taking.

So, congratulations Jenna! And congratulations to our other winners, who we’ll be profiling over the next little while.

And, of course, you should get your hands on the spellbinding Paperight Young Writers’ Anthology 2013 – which includes “The Harbour Child” and many other brilliant short stories in English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Xhosa and Sotho – at your local Paperight outlet. Check here to find your nearest outlet.

Three Great Adventure Novels

Adventure stories aren’t just for kids, you know. While tales of deserted islands and giant sea monsters might seem like the preserves of the imaginations of children, it’s not the trip itself that turns an adventure novel into a great book. That’s because adventure isn’t just about finding new horizons, it’s also about finding parts of yourself that you never knew existed. And there’s nothing childish about that.

Although modern times have seemingly shrunk our world, maybe you should put aside your jadedness for a little while and reacquaint yourself with three of the greatest adventure novels ever written. Shipwrecks, sled dogs, clandestine submarine adventures and just a little bit of self-discovery – all available right now on Paperight:

Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe

Defoe’s fictional diary of a shipwrecked Spaniard in the Caribbean is the template for all great original adventure novels. It throws together all of the necessary ingredients for dangerous escapades: cannibals, pirates, mutineers, a lost fortune and – somewhat unexpectedly – packs of starving wild wolves.

Inspired by the story of Scottish castaway and real-life Ultimate Survivor Andrew Selkirk, Robinson Crusoe is about friendship across cultural lines, loyalty, discipline and personal development in difficult and alien environments. Intricately-written and surprisingly deep, Crusoe is a celebration of survival at all costs. (Although it isn’t exactly a thoughtful testament to careful seafaring and not murdering people.)

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Authors of the Week: The Brontë Sisters

The socially-awkward, undeniably brilliant early feminists, the Brontë sisters, are our featured authors this week.

Fathered by a generous Anglican priest, the Brontës’ affection-filled childhoods of imaginative games, toys and abundant literature was tempered by the death of their mother and both of their elder sisters, who had died after poor treatment at boarding school, at which all the Brontë girls except for Anne were enrolled.

After educations in more caring and less tuberculosis-filled surroundings, Anne, Charlotte and Emily all started their writing careers under male pseudonyms, following the custom of female authors at the time. Contrary to their timid public natures, however, they produced works of fiction that challenged the moral standards of Victorian Britain, shocking their readers with portrayals of women who strove towards maturity, fulfilment and independence.

Although they share many similarities in their writing, the Brontës all had their own thematic concerns and distinct narrative voices. Charlotte and Emily’s writings were particularly influenced by Romantic writings, especially those of Lord Byron: Charlotte’s Jane Eyre and Emily’s Wuthering Heights (both published in 1847) feature timid women struggling in their relationships with dark, arrogant, but frustratingly attractive men. Anne, however, thought that books should provide moral education, and was greatly influenced by her time as a governess, as well as the death of the girls’ only brother Branwell from alcoholism-onset tuberculosis.

All of the Brontës died young, in fact: none of the siblings managed to reach 40, and were all outlived by their father. But even with only a combined output of seven adult novels (four by Charlotte, two by Anne and one by Emily) and one collaborative book of poetry between them, the Brontës scaled the heights of English literature, writing some of the most influential novels of all time and paving the way for more women writers to ply their trade for the remainder of the 19th century – and a long time after that, too.

We are proud to have every Brontë novel, as well as their book of poetry, available right now on Paperight.

Author of the week: SAIDE

SAIDE, one of South Africa’s most progressive educational bodies, is our featured author this week.

Founded in 1992, the South African Institute of Distance Education has been tirelessly promoting and catalysing the development of open education and technology in education in Southern Africa for the past two decades. More so than in any other place in the world, education in Southern Africa has peculiar challenges. The double burden of old colonial educational systems haphazardly reformed and (in some cases) incompetently run has resulted in the unhappy truth that Southern Africa is home to some of the worst-performing schooling systems in the world.

A non-governmental organisation, SAIDE aims to address the difficulties of educating in Southern Africa by implementing new models of open learning and distance education, promoting easy and free access to quality educational materials for educators and administrators through the use of information and communications technology.

Technology isn’t just window-dressing: technologies like the internet and e-books give their users access to free information that helps to redress past inequalities and facilitate the professional development of educators, regardless of budget or location. Because of its NGO status, SAIDE is also in a position to work collaboratively with other education providers “to facilitate networks and provide advice on the planning and implementation of distance education and the evaluation, development and sharing of courses and materials.”

At the moment, SAIDE has written a number of e-books, including valuable resources like:

  • Being a Teacher: a systematic overview of teaching as a profession and the role of teachers in our society.
  • Using Media: a guide to help teachers integrate popular media, textbooks and computer technologies into their teaching.
  • Creating a Caring School: a guide for school management teams and administrators to help them create schools that facilitate learning through positive, caring environments.

Good administration and teaching in Southern Africa is of the utmost importance, so we are very happy to say that these three books, along with a number of other SAIDE titles, are available right now on Paperight.

Author of the Week: F. Scott Fitzgerald

One of the great novelists of the 20th century – and perhaps of all time –  F. Scott Fitzgerald is our featured author this week. During a short life of glamour, heavy drinking and destructively fraught romances, Fitzgerald wrote four novels and numerous short stories that came to define the Jazz Age.

Usually brief, usually gorgeously written, his work dealt mostly with the fleetingness of youth, the superficiality of beauty and the unresolved promise of the American Dream. Underlying everything is his own existential despair: the haunting imagery of even seemingly light-hearted stories such as “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz”, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (made into a feature film in 2008) and “The Camel’s Back”, written by Fitzgerald to fund a purchase of a platinum and diamond wristwatch, expresses the inevitability of failure and the silent terror of ageing. His life – of outward beauty and rotten relationships – formed the material for many of his stories.

When Fitzgerald died in 1940, from a heart attack at the age of 44, he thought himself a failure; today, over tens of millions of copies of his books have been sold. In contrast to the society he wrote about the most, Fitzgerald’s stories are genuinely, profoundly beautiful. Perhaps unexpectedly, they’re also very easy to read, making books like The Great Gatsby a staple in high schools and colleges worldwide.

Fitzgerald’s four finished novels, This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and Damned, Tender is the Night, and The Great Gatsbyalong with collections of his short stories, Flappers and Philosophers, Tales of the Jazz Age and The Complete Pat Hobby Stories – are all available right now on Paperight.

Author of the Week: Napoleon Hill

Legendary self-help writer Napoleon Hill is our featured author this week. Almost single-handedly launching the modern genre of personal-success literature with his 1937 masterpiece Think and Grow Rich, Hill’s motivational treatises have shaped the lives of – quite literally – millions of people.

Hill spent the larger portion of his life researching and investigating the everyday habits and personal belief systems of the world’s most successful and affluent people. During an encounter with industrial magnate Andrew Carnegie at the turn of the 20th century, Hill hypothesised that the process of personal success could be distilled into a simple formula that anyone could understand and, crucially, that anyone could use to change their life for the better.

In trying to work out the formula for sure success, Hill would interview and analyse the behaviour and belief systems of thousands of successful men and women from all fields of industry, attempting to figure out what made them different from the layperson. His conclusion? That most people hold no or few firm beliefs or ambitions and, because of that, are left behind. Without the “white heat of desire”, Hill postulated, “you may as well know, right here, that you can never have riches in great quantities.”

“What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve” was one of Hill’s trademark sayings. It was also the basis for his two most famous works, the seminal Think and Grow Rich, as well as the highly influential The Law of Success. Luckily for you (and your wallet), both of these books are available right now on Paperight. Success!

Author of the Week: Hamilton Wende

South African TV journalist, radio correspondent and novelist Hamilton Wende is our featured author this week. Wende’s astounding clarity and knowledge about some of the world’s most opaque and bewildering conflicts, as well as the wildly different countries in which they take place, has made his reportage an indispensable guide to understanding the story behind the stories on our screens and in our hands.

His collection of wartime dispatches, Deadlines from the Edge, offers vivid vignettes of a number of conflicts, from the unpredictable brutality of the Congo to the ideological attrition of Afghanistan. Meticulously-written, startling in its clarity, and utterly personal, Deadlines offers an inner view into the psyche of the war reporter, and the nuances of conflicts that are too readily simplified in day-to-day news reportage.

In contrast to Deadlines‘ globe-trotting, Wende’s Alan Paton Award-nominated travel memoir True North takes a more focused route, following his travels through Africa, into countries where serene and overwhelmingly beautiful landscapes are jarringly contrasted with the barbarity of civil war. Documenting Africa’s less-travelled roads, Wende captures the alienation and difficulty of being an outsider in a tumultuous place.

“I like to explore the paradox between where we find ourselves and where we want to be,” Wende writes. In both of these books, we see travel writing of vocation instead of vacation; of involvement instead of surveillance.

Deadlines from the Edge and True North are both available now on Paperight.