Life in the 1960s in Port Elizabeth comes under the microscope. Life Underwater tells the story of the three Machabeus brothers: Jude, Simon and younger Eli, first as children and teenagers, and then as grown men upon the death of their father. While there may be nothing new under the sun, in the hands of a writer as skilled as Barris the material of family life is here wrought into something compelling, beautiful and visceral – magnifying the tragedies, and singular triumphs, of the everyday.
What Kind of Child:
Bernal Diaz del Castillo is a tattoo artist who is five hundred years old, or believes he is five hundred years old. His mind is filled with images of the Spanish conquest of Mexico. He lives in Cape Town, working out of a tiny studio in Long Street. Dying, he feels the need to chronicle his remarkable experiences. Luke Turner is a freelance journalist with three obsessions – cooking, women, and the art of tattoo. His ironic style masks the emptiness of his identity. Searching for the truth of his life, he is driven to work through what he calls his ‘alphabet of women’. He is equally obsessed with becoming an illustrated man, and so becomes the perfect canvas for Bernal Diaz. Malibongwe Kwetani is a child from Khayalitsha, on the outskirts of Cape Town. Born on the margins, living without means or hope, he is driven to the streets, traversing the city like a ghost in its architecture. Unlike Luke, he does not have time or opportunity for questions of identity.
The Jailer’s Book
Short fiction has appeared in Glimmertrain, The Bloody Horse, Contrast, UpStream, New Contrast, Fair Lady, Femina, Excellence, Playboy, English Academy Review, The Literary Review, Botsotso.
Short fiction has been anthologised in To See the Mountain and other stories, A Life in Full and other stories, New Writing from Africa, Antologija Sobodne Afrikse Kratke Proze, Omnibus of a Century of South African Short Stories, Leaves to a Tree, Yizo, Yizo: Stories aus einem neuen Südafrika, A is for Ancestors, The New Century of South African Short Stories,Post-Traumatic, Modern South African Short Stories, Opbrud, At the Rendezvouz of Victory and Other Stories (Kwela Books, 1999), A Writing Life: celebrating Nadine Gordimer , Marimba, and The Vita Anthology of New South African Short Fiction (Justified Press, 1988)
Poignant, yet accessible poetry from the winner of the Ingrid Jonker Prize, one of South Africa’s most prestigious prizes.
It’s crowded in the room.
We turn about and breathe the vapours other people breathe.
Where are you going this summer?
My feet are broken alabaster,
unremarked bits of the Venus de Milo.
An advertisement for air
Poems have been published in Contrast, New Contrast, Staffrider, SlugNews, Carapace, New Coin, Sesame, the Poetry Salzburg Review, and Litnet.
Poetry has been anthologised in Birds in Words: The Twitchers Guide to South African Poetry, Imagination in a Troubled Space: A South African Poetry Reader , The Old Calligrapher, City in Words: an Anthology of Cape Town poem, The Pick of Snailpress Poems, The Heart in Exile: South African Poetry 1990-1995, 25/25 Twenty-five years of English South African Poetry, and Ten Years of Staffrider.