2020 proved a disappointing year for our publication of South African classics. This happened mainly over a failure of acquire copyrights. We attempted to get the copyright for Peter Abrahams’s Path of Thunder, a book on interracial love just before the beginning of apartheid proper. Sadly we were not able to acquire it but are delighted to hear that Faber and Faber will be republishing Abrahams’s novels. This is fantastic news for South African culture.
Path of Thunder is a journey through hope and hopelessness, through liberal beliefs and their contradictions. We can’t wait to see it back on our shelves. What we will be publishing this this year is William Plomer’s Turbott Wolfe. We were absolutely delighted to get permission from his estate to do so. Plomer had a truly remarkable literary life befriending, John Dube (first president of the ANC), Virginia Wolf, WH Auden, Roy Campbell, Sir Laurence van der Post, Benjamin Britten and Ian Fleming. In fact, Plomer was the man who managed to get the James Bond novels into print.
Turbott Wolfe is, in many ways, an outlier in South African literature. Comic, acerbic and overtly lacking a consistent ideological position, its story of interracial love is one that may have the potential to confuse and offend (it certainly offended many racists in South Africa at the time). At least one person who backed it was Virginia Woolf. She deemed it an important and valuable enough work for her and her husband to published it through their famous Hogarth Press imprint. We are looking forward to getting it back in print, so watch this space.