Today’s blog is a work of pride and joy, as it features a book, Behind the Shadows, that my story, Left in the Dark, is in.
To purchase a copy of Behind the Shadows
Behind the Shadows is the brainchild of both Zukiswa Wanner and Rohini Chowdhury.
It has been an absolute pleasure working with Zukiswa and Rohini, both of whom, are talented writers and the editors of Behind the Shadows.
I am sure that sifting through the submissions for this Anthology of Short Stories could not have been easy but Rohini and Zukiswa’s passion for writing, fuelled them.
Firstly, questions for the Editors of the book.
I asked Rohini Chowdhury how she felt now that the anthology was done and dusted?
Well, there was a huge sense of celebration, and of satisfaction for a job completed and completed well. As every writer/editor knows, there is also always a big sense of relief when a project is finished. Now, of course, the equally important task is ahead of us – of making this anthology visible, and hopefully converting that visibility into sales. Given that this has become a joint venture between us and the twenty-one writers who contributed to the anthology, there is a profound sense of community here, and the feeling of a team that is pulling together to turn a dream into a reality.
You can view more of Rohini’s work at:
Zukiswa Wannerhad this to say about how they selected the final twenty one stories.
We waded through hundreds of submissions and chose the 21 we did based on the writers’ following the requirements on theme, length, and of course submissions
of edits on time. And of course it was also a matter of having stories that really resonated with us. If something didn’t gel with Ro but worked with me, I let it go unless I felt really really strongly then I fought for it and vice versa.
Visit Zukiswa, she will love it.
The Last Rhino by Lauri Kubuitsile
My story is called The Last Rhino in Mutare. It’s about a young white girl
living in Zimbabwe during the time of the farm invasions and all of the
problems with the economy and election violence. She lives in Mutare a town
in the eastern highlands and is friends with a man who works at the tiny
game park there. She feels lost, she can’t find a place to fit in. That’s
really the main theme of the story, fitting in when you’re different from
everyone around you.
2. Where did the inspiration for the story come from?
I love Mutare and they actually have a small game park there which I’ve
visited. This story was written quite a few years ago. During all of the
difficulties. I often thought about the place since a lot of the violence
took place there. The inspiration came from my worries for the people of
Mutare and also my own constant battle with trying to find a place to fit
in. Like Delia, my protagonist, I’ve always been an outsider no matter where
I’ve found myself, always I wondered if somewhere there were people that
spoke my language and could pronounce my true name without having to twist
their tongue, just as Delia wonders in the story.
3. What are your thoughts on the African/Asian Anthology.
I have to admit I haven’t read the entire book yet, just bits and pieces. I
need to move it into my Kindle which is my main way of reading books
nowadays. I’ve been travelling a lot for the last two months and haven’t had
a chance. But I am excited and honoured to be part of the book. I am a big
fan of cross cultural initiatives such as this. Finding our commonalities
and our differences goes a long way to finding our way to each other and
that is really what it is all about. It’s the way to find peace and respect
for each other. Stories are perhaps the truest way for us to get to know
You can contact Lauri at:
Mrs Tan’s Memoir by Damyanti Ghosh
1. What is your story about?
My story “Mrs. Tan’s Memoir”, is about an Indian woman, married to a Singaporean man for decades, who still feels like an outsider in her adoptive country, in her family, her home, her job.
2. What inspired your story?
The woman who serves the soup to the protagonist in the story is real. She still stands each evening in the food court opposite my condominium, and dishes out her food, without a smile. My story started as her story, but somehow became the story of Mrs. Tan. The rest of it is a re-imagination of various bits and pieces from the notebook where I keep jotting down things I see, and I have very little clue how it all came together to become a story.
3. What do you hope the African/Asian Anthology would achieve?
I hope it will bring smiles and tears to many readers, just as it did to me. Some of the stories in the collection are very moving, and I’m a little awed by the combined talent of the contributors.
Damyanti would love a visit to her blog:
The Thing that Ate your Brains by Jackee Batanda
1.What is your story about?
The Thing That Ate your Brains is a family drama story capturing issues of loss, divorce, and deep faith. It explores the conflict between traditional beliefs and religion- in this case, the dead girl’s mental illness is blamed on tradition and can only be healed once the rituals are done, but the parents are Christians and do not believe carrying out rituals.
Lyaaka, the narrator, addresses her dead cousin, Adongo, who was mentally ill, later fled the home, and when she returned, she was already dying of HIV/AIDs.
In the story, when the family breaks down after Adongo’s disappearance, and the family stops searching, only Namaqua, her sister, does not give up on ever finding her sister. So I meant it that Adongo finally re-appears to Namaqua, to give it a sense of finality that she finds home and peace.
2. Why did you choose to write it?
A family tragedy was the inspiration for this story. The story is close to me. A similar story happened to a cousin of mine, whom I only heard about in conversations, and when I heard the details and about her death, I decided to write a short story to capture her spirit and keep her alive. Many of the incidents have of course been changed for purposes of fiction, but the spirit of the story remains.
3. What are your thoughts on the African/Asian Anthology?
The anthology is a brilliant piece of work and a fabulous south-south collaboration. It has exposed me to new writers and their works, as I am sure I have been a new discovery for some of the writers in the collection.
When I first saw the call for short stories and the theme Outcast, I knew, I had to submit, The Thing That Ate your Brains. It fitted well with the theme, and I was sure that this would be perfect home.
It is interesting that most anthologies are mainly only Africa or only Asian, so having a collecting targeting writers from Africa and Asia is makes Behind the Shadows, a book that must be on everyone’s night stand, and it works to introduce African writers to Asian writers and the reverse.
So I am really glad to be a part of this collection, and wish for bigger things for it.
You can follow Jackee on twitter or visit her on her blog.
Cape Farm No. 432 by Jayne Bauling
1. What inspired you to write your story?
When I heard that the theme for the Behind the Shadows anthology was
‘Outcasts’, I started thinking of the sort of people who’ve been shunned as
outcasts through the ages. I also wanted to give the story an obviously
African aspect as it was to be an Asian-African book, so the combination of
lepers and Robben Island seemed a gift.
2. What do you think of the variety of stories that make up the anthology?
I’m enjoying reading the stories. They’re such a good mix. There’s
humour, there’s tragedy, and a lot more. My own story is set back in the
1800s, but balancing that there’s a wonderful story set in the future
3.Do you think there is a need for cross-cultural stories? Why?
Cross-cultural stories are valuable on several levels. They can educate
as well as entertain, promoting understanding.
You can contact Jayne at firstname.lastname@example.org
This part of the blog is really unashamed, self-promotion:)
Left in the Dark – Elaine Pillay
I took a writing course and the story took shape. “Left in the Dark” is based on a true story. Writing it was a personal battle of “is this something I should tell everybody?” But how will we learn cultural and personal balance if nobody tells their story?
When I was young, my mom had suffered a nervous breakdown and I remember never being told what had happened to her. I was never allowed to see her and I made meaning of what was going on with my mom from stories that the adults around me shared with each other. I know that parents do this to protect their children and maybe at the time it is the right thing to do. Who knows?
In my story, I also wanted to show, how cultural and societal obligations can often be at the expense of your own life and your own happiness.
And that as much as it is difficult to choose in these situations, you have to take care of yourself, first, so that you can take care of others.