Sunday, August 21, 2011

African Crime Fiction in the news

Cary Darling, writing for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, looks at the changing face of African crime fiction in his article "African crime writers are gaining attention outside the continent."

He starts off
We sure have come a long way since Out of Africa and The Flame Trees of Thika.

In the second decade of the 21st century, some of the most compelling contemporary crime-fiction novels are either set in or coming from Africa. Much as Scandinavia became associated with the genre a few years back -- thanks in large part to Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy -- Africa may become a new capital of literary crime.
Later he points out in reference to Alexander McCall Smith's Botswana books "...this new wave is often far less soft-centered and more hard-boiled, less nice and more noir."

Cary approaches the topic by profiling two authors —South Africa's Roger Smith and Mukoma Wa Ngugi who was born and lives in the US but raised in Kenya. Mukoma Wa Ngugi I wasn't familiar with but after reading about him in Cary's article I have his book Nairobi Heat on pre-order. Taking an African-American detective from an "extremely white town" to Nairobi, Kenya has wonderful possibilities  to explore cultural attitudes, differences.

Roger Smith, as anyone who reads my blog knows, is one of my favorite authors and the one that got my interest in African crime fiction going. Though I've been corresponding with Roger for several years, Cary's interview gave me several new insights. For example, I hadn't known how Roger's books are received in South Africa. Cary also points out how Roger had to turn to electronic publication to make his latest book, Dust Devils, available to US readers, perhaps because publishers are looking for safe and commercial books.

Please read the entire article at African crime writers are gaining attention outside the continent.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

In Memoriam Margaret E. Lundy

My mother, Margaret E. Lundy (née Hudson), 1929–2011, passed away at 0230 on July 30 in a Port Charlotte, FL nursing home of complications from stroke, breast cancer, and the poignantly described condition of failure to thrive.

She grew up in the town of Pulaski, Virginia and never lost the country twang in her speech ih her 85 years of life.

A member of Tom Brokow's The Greatest Generation, she often joked that she didn't know she was poor growing up because no one had any money. During the war she worked for American Viscose Corp., a plant in Front Royal, VA producing rayon.

At war's end she married my father, Mack A. Lundy, Jr., just back from Europe and 10 months as a German prisoner of war after the bomber on which he was radio operator and waist gunner was shot down. She traveled the country making a home for us while my father continued his aviation career as an enlisted man in the Air Force.

In 1952 our family began one of our greatest adventures when my father was accepted for a posting to the Air Attaché in Pretoria, South Africa. He was a member of the crew of the aircraft assigned to the American Embassy. I can look back now at the horror that was apartheid during the time we were there but for a young couple not far removed from southwest Virginia it was a remarkable time. The community was small enough that not much distinction was made between officers, enlisted men, and members of the diplomatic corps. The photograph above was taken in front of our house on Mackie Street as my parents left for some formal event. I think my brother and I are there because it was an opportunity for a family photo.

Returning from South Africa in 1956, my father remained in the Air Force, retiring in 1964. My brother and I went off to college and away from home and 39 years ago Mom and Dad settled in the town of Arcadia, Florida where my father worked for a company that managed orange groves.

They were not content to just live in Arcadia, they made it their home and embraced the community, involving themselves in many community organizations. I frequently hear "Oh, you're Mack's/Margaret's boy, I worked with your father/mother on..." as I go around town settling the estate. It was the longest place they lived in their lives.

As I sit here writing this I can look around my house and see things from our life together: figurines, plates, a five shilling piece from South Africa; a photograph of me in a rugby uniform and another of my brother in a baseball uniform on the cover of a South African magazine; my father's hat that he wore hunting in Rhodesia; baskets from Charleston, SC; an oak hall tree that belonged to my mother's parents; a teapot that was part of an Air Force china set. Just objects but ones that remind me of happy times and the way I want to remember my parents and not the way they were when their lives ran out.

Rest in peace, Margaret and Mack.