Last night, 13 June, I was privileged to be invited to attend the launch of the debut novel Finding Soutbek by Karen Jennings at the Book Lounge. An award-winning short-story writer, holding a double masters degree in English Literature and Creative Writing, she is currently working towards her PhD in Creative Writing at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Clutching my camera and a glass of wine, I moved to the corner of a very crowded room where I could lurk unobtrusively. Fortuitously, I found myself standing next to her publisher, Bernadette Jansen op de Haar, who had flown out from London to be at the launch. For a moment it felt as though my blood was standing still...
“I couldn't not publish it. ... It's a remarkable book... saying very important things.”
The word 'remarkable' was used several times by her interviewer, Rustum Kozain – Winner of the Ingrid Jonker and Olive Schreiner awards for his poetry - as he read extracts from her novel to illustrate points he was making. “Get a copy while you can” this award-winning poet and lecturer exhorted us.
Quietly observing this Wynberg woman (who has just adjudicated all of the Wynberg Girls’ High Eisteddfod entries in Creative Writing) I was conscious of the enormous respect Karen commands as a writer.
~ o ~
As a teacher, sometimes, you can walk along a short path with people like these...