Talking authors: Nthikeng Mohlele

The Mail & Guardian is running a series of interviews with South African authors. We posed difficult questions; we also asked some easy ones. Nthikeng Mohlele takes up the challenge

Describe yourself in a sentence.
Cerebral idealist, allergic to sport, unashamedly and obsessively drawn to life; sometimes frustrated by its limitations.

Describe your ideal reader.
Must be true to themselves, free to think and feel whatever they please in response to what I put on to a page.

What are you working on?
A second novel. My characters are refusing to acknowledge I am suffering, pleading with them to say and do as I beg them to. Such ungrateful, spiteful prima donnas who shun their creator.

Tell us about your everyday writing routine.
Routine? What is that? I write anytime, anywhere, anyhow. On the back of business cards, SMSs to myself, on hotel bills, in the palm of my hand, on traffic fines, or on the road, strange requests to my partner: “Please remind me to kill Mercedes Sanchez.”

What book(s) are you reading now?
One Hundred Years of Solitude, re-reading The Life and Times of Michael K, The Dying Animal. And my cheeky manuscript.

Do you remember the first novel you read?
Things Fall Apart

What book, if any, changed your life?
Book? Change my life? I refuse. Or maybe rephrase? Memories of My Melancholy Whores touched me.

Do you write by hand, typewriter or computer?
Typewriter = dinosaurs. Writing by hand triggers instincts no computer will ever master. A hand has a strange way of mirroring your soul. Then on to a computer. Cheesy rubbish? I know.

Why should people buy your book as a gift this holiday?
Serious rumours by educated and inspired souls confirm that The Scent of Bliss is beautifully written. I have no reason or intention to dispute this.

What book(s) are you buying as presents?
Kgebetli Moele’s Book of the Dead, Kopano Matlwa’s Coconut, Ferdinand Oyono’s Houseboy.

What CD are you listening to now?
Rogamar by Cesaria Evora, Kind of Blue by Miles Dewey Davis, Pictures by Katie Melua and Talking Timbuktu by Ali Farka Toure and Ry Cooder.

In a multi/polymedia world, why is book publishing still important?
Because nothing comes close to caressing a velvety cover of a great book, turgid with ideas, feelings, secrets.

What subject is now passé in current South Africa?
That bloody Hendrick Verwoerd and his policy of good neighbourliness! Wink Wink.

Nthikeng Mohlele was born on July 4 1977. He lived in Limpopo and later Tembisa. He attended the University of the Witwatersrand, where he studied BA Dramatic Art and African Literature. Mohlele is the author of The Scent of Bliss. He writes poetry for personal amusement. He currently lives in Pretoria.

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