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Dawn Garisch: Once Two Islands

Tuesday, January 29th 2008 at 12:00 AM

29 January 2008

Dawn Garisch: Once Two Islands


January 2008

Tuesday, January 1st 2008 at 12:00 AM

Welcome…to the first Lounge Letter – and a very Happy New Year to all our friends & customers!

We aim to keep you informed of all the fabulous things happening in the shop, plus sneak previews, events and a few of our favourite things.


Our first month was a busy one – thanks to all of you – and we had 3 brilliant events. Our very own Launch Party was packed, jolly and emotional – it was wonderful to see so many people there to support the store. We launched the exciting debut by Matthew Blackman (UCT Centre for Creative Writing) – In the Same Space, with Electric Book Works; and the stunning Champions of the World all about the 2007 Rugby World Cup, by renowned rugby writer Mark Keohane, who was introduced on the night by a Mr Jake White!

What’s New?

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January 29th sees the launch of The Lounge Club – our very own book club. The club will have different themes and topics each month – this month we welcome Dawn Garisch, who will speak about her novel Once, Two Islands. Populated by bizarre and eccentric characters, this charming novel tells the story of Gulai, a young girl who comes of age on an isolated island some distance south of Africa. When Gulai’s mother dies giving birth to her, her father, Dr. Orion Prosper, the only medical doctor on the island, blames himself. For days afterward, he locks himself in his room, leaving Gulai’s aunt no other option but to seek advice from Dr. Prosper’s arch-enemy, Sophia, the island’s midwife. Gulai’s story explores these relationships, processes, and conflicts with warmth and humour in a way that appeals to the imagination.
Dawn Garisch, herself a doctor, is a prolific and diverse writer – though this is her first novel for adults. Entry is free, but please RSVP to We start at 6.00 for 6.30pm, refreshments will be available, and we look forward to seeing you there!


We offer a comprehensive ordering service, and will do our utmost to get the book you want (providing it is in print!), and to get it as quickly as is possible. Please contact us with any queries.

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We are importing a range of interesting books directly from the USA. Watch out for our regular Just Arrived from New York feature. Our friend Jonny in New York has promised to recommend one book a month, and because we love him (and because he subscribed the Book Lounge to the New York Review of Books as an opening present), we’re creating a special Jonny’s Corner. First up in Jonny’s corner (and it also wins the prize for the longest title of the month) is The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: a Hmong Child, Her American Doctors and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne Fadiman. Not a new book, but the reviews have been consistently outstanding and it looks like a fantastic read. It will be in store soon….
For those who haven’t had a chance to check them out, it’s worth having a look at some of the new (and not so new) local literature magazines available. Boeke Insig, Words etc, New Contrast and Carapace are all to be found at the counter.


We have copies of the New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books for you to browse through – in the new (January 3rd) LRB, there is a charming piece by Alan Bennett on the things he didn’t do in 2007 – worth having a look at! We also get occasional literary supplements from the UK press, so it’s always worth checking to see what’s new.
‘n Afdeling waaroor ons sterk voel is Afrikaans! Min mense sal stry dat Die Taal gruwelik afgeskeep word in die Moederstad. Ons sal graag bietjie salf daaraan wil smeer, en ons hou ‘n groot versameling aan, insluitende heelwat Afrikaanse digbundels, asook leesstof vir die jongspan. Kom loer bietjie, oor ‘n koppie boeretroos!

Forthcoming titles

Here are just a very few of the books that we are excited about at the moment…

Granta 100

edited by William Boyd
This promises to be a stunning collection, and will feature new writing by a wonderful range of authors – from Doris Lessing to Martin Amis, from Bill Buford to Julian Barnes – to celebrate the 100th edition of Granta.

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McSweeney’s 23

edited by David Eggers
A huge staff favourite. This is the latest in the McSweeney’s collections of innovative writing from new and established authors – with beautiful and unusual artwork, and a few surprises, this series never fails to delight and astonish.             


The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters

edited by Charlotte Mosley
I am normal, my wife is normal, but my daughters are each more foolish than the other.” Thus an exasperated Lord Redesdale on his eccentric daughters, each of whom lived extraordinary lives, and were prolific letter writers. Gathered together for the first time, these letters are a slice of history and a portrait of an era – fascinating.          

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If Minds Had Toes by Lucy Eyre

by Lucy Eyre
Lucy Eyre (definitely a Socratist) has written a nimble, witty introduction to the basic tenets of philosophy which never takes itself too seriously. A playful guide for young adults, it’s a charming endorsement of the benefits of the examined life”      Guardian.   


Skylark Farm

by Antonia Arslan
At the age of thirteen, Yerwant leaves his home in the Anatolian hills of Turkey to study at a boarding school in Venice. Now, in May 1915, he is planning a long-awaited reunion with his family at their homestead, Skylark Farm. But while joyful preparations for Yerwant’s arrival are being made, Italy enters the Great War and closes its borders. At the same time, in Turkey, Yerwant’s family begins a brutal odyssey of hunger and humiliation at the hands of the Young Turks. Fighting brutality with love, courage and hope, the family’s children set out on a dangerous course of their own to reach Yerwant, and safety, in Italy.


White King

by Gyorgy Dragoman

In the tradition of A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas: a young boy in a totalitarian state looks for his disappeared father – an urgent, humorous and melancholy picture of childhood behind the Iron Curtain. 11 year-old Djata always stays home on Sundays – the day the State Security came to take his father away, and he believes it will be a Sunday when they bring him home again. Meanwhile Djata lives a life of adventure and games. When he finally uncovers the truth about his father, he risks losing his childhood forever. Winner of the prestigious Sandor Marai Prize.

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The Burnt-Out Town of Miracles

by Roy Jacobsen
Set in Finland in 1939, this is the story of one man who stays behind when everyone in his village has fled from the advancing Russian troops – because he cannot imagine life elsewhere. The historical context of the novel is the true story of the few thousand brave Finns who vanquished the vast Russian troops, fighting in temperatures of -40 degrees. This is a novel about belonging, and about the brutal and destructive force of the cold.



by Torsten Kroll
An early contender for the darkest, funniest comedy of the year, this book reads like a cross between Capote’s In Cold Blood, Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury and Tom Robbins…as filmed by the Coen Brothers. Incredibly well-realised for a debut novel, Callisto follows the hapless Odell Deefus through one week in the Kansas town where his car breaks down on his way to enrolling in the US Army. Instead, he accidentally gets involved in murder, drug dealing, terrorism, televangelism…and lawnmowing. But, more importantly, will Odell find love? A consummate satire on contemporary American morals, as well as a rollicking tale told by a narrator it is impossible to dislike, this novel marks the rise of a great new talent in American literature.



by Steven Otter
What do you do if you are a white boy in Cape Town who can’t pay his rent? You rent a room in Khayelitsha of course! That’s what Steven Otter did in 2001 when his girlfriend moved back to the Netherlands, and his Tamboerskloof rent became prohibitive.
No social experiment this, but born out of necessity, and against the advice of all his white friends, his experience has made a fascinating and highly engaging book. He approaches everything at face value and with a sense of adventure – while at the same time he explores and wrestles with the underlying racism that he feels is inherent in the upbringing of many white South Africans.
The people that populate the book are many and varied, and he does their stories justice, with humour and lack of judgement – from the immigrants to the tsotsis. This book must surely be a huge eye-opener for the majority of those living so nearby in the comfortable suburbs of Cape Town – as it was to this (English) reader.
During his time in Khayelitsha, Steven Otter evidently threw himself wholeheartedly into life there, and the resulting book is a hugely enjoyable, compelling read – very much like a good friend inviting you into his home, making you comfortable, and regaling you with the most wonderful stories. A must.



Each month we feature a book that was banned at some point by some small-minded people. This month, the classic Ulysses by James Joyce. Installments appeared in the US magazine Little Review, and the book was published in Paris in 1922. However, US customs refused to handle it on the grounds of obscenity, and the book was burned in the USA, Canada, England and Ireland. It was eventually published in the US in 1933, and in the UK in 1936 – go figure!

For the Young at Heart


Moomin remains a Classic
If you are of the right age you might have grown up watching the Moomin Family on telly (admittedly some of us still remember the theme song) and will be glad to know they are available in print format again. Translated from the original Swedish, Tove Janssen’s memorable family of trolls still capture the hearts of many. Available in short novels or in comic strip format The Book Lounge would love to add Snufkin and Little My to your bookshelf.

The things they said

“A good book should leave you…slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it.” William Styron


Literary Rewards

The category winners for The Costa Book Awards (previously known as the Whitbread) were announced on January 2nd –
Novel: Day by A L Kennedy
Biography: Young Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore
First Novel: What Was Lost by Catherine O’Flynn
Poetry: Tilt by Jean Sprackland
Children’s: The Bower Bird by Ann Kelley

Aural Poetry – or CD of the Week


At the Book Lounge, we have given a little space to ear-candy too: mostly imported and exclusive indiepop from around the world. If you like kittens, polkadots, prettiness, or just a good melody, our music selection is for you!
To introduce you slowly to this little-known cornucopia, we will feature one of our CD’s every month. Kicking us off is the wonderful and adorable Tullycraft, from Portland, Oregon. Purveyors of bouncy guitar pop, get-up-and-go backing vocals and quirky tongue-in-cheek tales of lovable eccentrics-next-door, Tullycraft have just released their latest album Every Scene Needs a Centre on the delightful Magic Marker records. Carrying forward the sunny pop aptly described by previous album-title Beat Surf Fun, Tullycraft are guaranteed to raise a smile, and make your feet itch just a little.

Did you know…?


…J K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, had a first-run print of 8.5 million copies. This is approximately 80 times the average bestseller! This beat the previous book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which had a first-run print of 4.8 million copies.
…Between 1986 and 1996, Brazilian author Jose Carlos Ryoki de Alpoim Inoue had a massive 1,058 novels published. He writes westerns, science fiction and thrillers. Does he ever eat?

That’s all for now – Mervyn, Verushka, Johan, Lwandiso & Megan look forward to seeing you soon!