An Empty Coast

An Empty Coast
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Crime in Johannesburg

A reader has just emailed me from Johannesburg, Legion of Fans (LOF), asking if I've ever considered writing a book set in his home town, with a focus on Joburg's terrible crime.

I have considered it, but haven't come to a decision. What do you think? Should I or shouldn't I?

I'm interested in your opinions - particularly those of you who live (or have lived) in South Africa.

Do you want to read about crime in Jozi in a novel, or is it too close to the bone?

Part of me thinks there is so much "material" (if I can put it that way) about this subject that I should write about it, but the other part of me thinks... well that's why I'm asking you.

14 comments :

rhodie-jeff said...

Wouldn't win you friends in govt. over there, but if done well would appeal to me. Suggested title;
'MANDELA LAND - THE FINAL FANTASY'
Jeff

Trev said...

Just been chatting with the missus about that.
We both love Deon Meyer's SA crime novels and after much discussion over a bottle of charddonay there was a joint consensus that we'd love to see a TP SA crime novel.

ali g said...

Agree with you Trev but you must be pissed as you can't spell chardonnay

Trin said...

Having only passed thru Cape Town on way to Oz as $10 (pounds not dollars) immigrant (actually, I came here for nicks as still a kid), can't really comment except to say I'm sure any book you write would be fine by your readers (slurrrrp) but maybe not as healthy for you! Ali G - LOVED your comment. Always get a chuckle out of someone commenting on this blog!! Trev, you must be a bit of a two pot screamer seeing it was only one bottle between two of you.

The Barman said...

Write about their cricket team. That'd be criminal enough because they're about to mug the Aussies.

Muriel said...

Crime novels are always welcome - everyone loves a really well-crafted whodunnit and you can probably do it better than most. But you can set a crime novel anywhere. Is Jozi interesting enough? Maybe if you can include a wild sex scene at the zoo?

Flea said...

Hmmm .. I dunno yet, thinking.. thinking. Probably not for me. Most crime there are bad crime, people get hurt and murdered for greed (I know like all other crimes) but still it's for me to close to the bone and I wouldn't want to read about it I think. But as some say, if it's done in good taste it might be different.
Who's going to be the hero when even Cops out there are crims, the justice system are criminal, etc etc.
You would have to be sure of your story and research too I would think.
I mean what other crime is there but rape, high jacks, house break ins with murders, prostitution and drug/weapon smugglers, a country riddled with Aids and poverty. It's not as if it's Underbelly stuff?
Just thinking out loud here Tony because I know you can do it if you put your head and heart towards it.
Will SA-cans appreciate a foreigner writting it?
I'll ask my family who lives there what they would think?

JR said...

TP,

Crime is crime wherever it may be. What is worth recording about the RSA is the incredibility of what people will do criminally, and what people have to try to do to defend themselves....the, what seems to people not from there, extraordinary measures.

I remember thinking of the layer of measures taken by people who owned new cars, especially 4WDs..alarms, mechanical locks, tracking devices, and insurance companies that hired 'recovery teams'.

Some friends from Johannesburg had a new 4WD stolen. They contacted their insurance company and were informed that it was visible on their tracking system and ...'it appears to be heading north at altitude'...it was in the back of a plane.

As much as anything, it is a story centred on RSA but, also shaped and influenced by porosity of the borders between RSA and the rest of Africa....what does it take to get a RSA passport? Ask a Nigerian.

rhodie-jeff said...

Final word - stick to what you're good at - stay in the bush. Away from Jo'burg. Animals are predictable. Safer to bed down with one of your Aussie King Browns than dig for script in Jo'burg. I know these people. Fifty years of 'Congo to Cape' I think, is a pretty good qualification.
Jeff

TW said...

Go for it Tony - make it as hard-hitting as possible(but don't leave out the bush)!

ali g said...

Having been in the fortunate position of reading 'Ivory' before its soon release this year can only say go for it!
Ivory in my opinion is an absolete masterpiece and without doubt one of the best books I have ever read!
LOF's are in for an absolute treat when its released!
Whatever you set your mind to particularly after Ivory can only be as good as if not better..whatever the scenario.
Thanks Trin for your comment. Known Trev a long time. Only thing going for him is his poor but very patient and lovely wife..

dozycow said...

Although I have never been to South Africa I am sure that if you wrote a novel based in Johannesburg that it would be just as good a read as all your previous books (and I wouldn't be able to pick out any mistakes.....)

Heidihi said...

I wouldn't write about Jo'Burg - concentrate on beautiful Cape Town instead. There's already to much negativity about Jo'Burg.

redcap said...

Hmm, I dunno. I don't really like Jo'burg much. Every time I land, I can't wait to get out of the place! I do, however, have great faith in you, old sport. Please throw a little bush side trip in, though ;)

Ali, ooh, jealous!!