Fiona Snyckers

Put Nigella down

Cookbooks are a perennial favourite at Christmas time. They are as much fun to give as to receive because the giver stands a good chance of being invited over for dinner to try out a new recipe. We all like to be thought of as the kind of person who has an inner gourmet just…

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The only responsibility of a young adult author is to tell a good story

Teenagers are easy to influence. Their plastic minds are wide open to suggestion from just about any source, except for their parents or other authority figures. Popular culture seems to play a particularly large role in shaping their behaviour. In the literary world, this has led to a great deal of introspection on the part…

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Is crime fiction ready for black villains?

Crime fiction has come a long way. A 100 years ago, if a character in a crime novel had dark skin, a hooked nose, differently-shaped eyes, or even just an accent, it was a known signifier of villainy. These tropes were recognised and accepted by readers and writers alike. It must have made writers’ lives…

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Policing women’s erotic choices

Sex sells. This is not breaking news. From medieval monks doodling erotic drawings in the margins of their illuminated manuscripts to naughty Victorians printing salacious postcards, the urge to celebrate sex in art and literature is nothing new. It is also not new for women to want a slice of the erotic market for themselves….

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Putting our fiction on the map

South Africa has long had a fine international reputation for literary fiction. Nadine Gordimer and JM Coetzee have both won the Nobel Prize for literature. Coetzee has won the Booker Prize twice. Andre Brink has won a slew of international awards. And those are just the names that come immediately to mind. What we have…

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Five SA books that should have won literary awards

In 2011 the literary awards season gave rise to hopes that the establishment was finally starting to recognise some of our younger and more innovative writers. Cynthia Jele’s Happiness is a 4-Letter Word and Sifiso Mzobe’s Young Blood both enjoyed outstanding critical success, raking in a bouquet of wins between them. This year the winners…

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Are paper books the horse and carriage of the 21st century?

There has been a lot of hand-wringing and soul-searching in the book world about the challenges posed by e-books. There is also the separate, but related, matter of the massive, loss-leader discounting that book-store chains practise routinely. Cheap books and e-books are apparently threatening civilisation as we know it. They are certainly causing the demise…

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Rape is not a slogan on a T-shirt

When I was a student at Rhodes University I belonged to the Women’s Movement, an organisation that was intended to advance the rights of women students on campus and generally spread the feminist agenda. We were supposed to campaign for things like improved security for women on campus, and to protest against dimwitted and archaic…

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Equating abortion with infanticide is a red herring

The abortion debate was rocked by a recent article by Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva in the Journal of Medical Ethics. It argued that infanticide should be permitted by law for the same reason that abortion is permitted, which is to say that a foetus and a newborn baby are not human persons with rights. Giubilini and Minerva argue…

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Regulation of the porn industry is not a free speech issue

Late last year, South Africa’s journalists and assorted media types decked themselves out in black to protest the Protection of State Information Bill. Shortly thereafter the news sites started buzzing with proposals to introduce a porn channel to our TV sets. And very shortly after that, various organisations threatened to boycott the channels concerned and…

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