Alan Paton Award Nominee: Macintosh Polela
Bibi Slippers asked Macintosh Polela a few questions about writing his Alan Paton Award-nominated book
My Father My Monster.
In Margaret Atwood’s book on writing, Negotiating with the Dead, she compiles a list of hundreds of reasons why writers write. Some of the reasons on the list are:
If you were to name your main reasons for writing this specific book, what would they be?
- To record the world as it is.
- To set down the past before it is all forgotten / To excavate the past because it has been forgotten.
- To satisfy my desire for revenge.
- Because I knew I had to keep writing or else I would die.
- To produce order out of chaos.
- To hold a mirror up to the reader.
- To show the bastards.
- To make money so my children could have shoes.
- To attract the love of a beautiful woman / To attract the love of any woman at all.
- To serve History.
I came to realise that I had spent a lifetime running from myself, and that I had exhausted the space into which I could run. I felt that if I did not venture into the abyss and face my pain once and for all, I was forever going to be unsettled. I wrote my book so that I could find closure.
Could you describe how you came to write this story? Did the story find you or did you seek it out?
I started to write the story to document and share my life journey. As I put chapters into my laptop, I realised that this was not just my story, I was telling the story of tens of thousands of other people.
What is the most important thing you learned or discovered while writing your nominated book?
I discovered that while I had had some release, the closure I was looking for was probably a myth. The pain I endured while growing up would always, in some form, be with me.
Who is your ideal reader?
I initially thought I was writing for schools, but I have come to realise that my story has a universal audience.
Have you decided on the next issue or story you will tackle?
Yes. I have started working on a true crime novel.
What has been your favourite South African read of 2011/2012?
Which one of the nominated books would you place your betting money on to walk away with this year’sprize?
Mandy Wiener’s Killing Kebble
. It’s a very strong candidate.
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