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Crime Beat

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Post 1: 2009 update of the Who’s Who

As of this month, March, Crime Beat has updated the Who’s Who of South African Crime Writing to include a number of new names and titles. Forty writers are now featured on the list. Mostly this is because of last year’s debate on whether crime fiction shouldn’t rather be called thrillers or even crime thrillers. It was felt that crime fiction had a negative connotation and drew the fiction into the true crime arena. The outcome was slightly in favour of the thriller tag although Crime Beat remains doggedly in favour of calling crime fiction just that, crime fiction.

That said, we decided to expand the Who’s Who to include thriller writers and have also added writers working in other official languages. Among these is an appendix of Sepedi detective stories and a link to a critical assessment of their work. The Golden Age of Sepedi crime fiction seems to have coincided with the later apartheid years as the books by these writers ceased in the early 1990s.

The Who’s Who list remains eccentric as the adventure writers – Wilbur Smith, Geoffrey Jenkins, Alan Scholefield, Siegfried Stander, Jon Burmeister – have been included although not all their titles. The slant is still towards South African settings so this (and the thriller label) has brought Gillian Slovo onto the list with the first of her Kate Baeier series, Morbid Symptons and her two thrillers, Betrayal and Red Dust.

Some of the writers now included are not available in English, namely the Afrikaans contingent – Francois Bloemhof, Dirk Jordaan, Harry Kalmer, Riana Mouton, Chanette Paul, Piet Steyn, Quintus van der Merwe – and the highly prolific Meshack Masondo who is well known to thousands of Zulu readers. A short story of his in English can be found in the anthology Bad Company as is one by Dirk Jordaan.

Among the debut writers on the new list are Tracy Gilpin, Sue Rabie, and Roger Smith.

The Who’s Who also lists the ‘crimefighters’ who have appeared in those novels more closely associated with the crime genre. Again this is an eccentric selection and open to debate.

Tomorrow’s post lists all the new names and their books.

 

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