The first post for my SA Fiction Collection reminds me why I love second-hand bookstores. It was also the first book I bought on my recent visit to South Africa. I spent two days in Joburg staying with Lu from Sugar and Snark, and she took me to Outer Limits, a comic book store in Melville. Among other geekery like games and figurines, Outer Limits has a small selection of new and second-hand genre fiction, and I spotted this slim, obscure title on the shelves:
Shark’s Egg, published by Kwela Books in 2000, is the debut novel by Henrietta Rose-Innes. You may have heard of her recent novel Ninevah, or come across one of her short stories, which have appeared in numerous publications. The somewhat sloppy cover of Shark’s Egg doesn’t really appeal to me, so it’s a good thing I was familiar with her name. The cover suggests fantasy, but the blurb implies more realist fiction. I’ll have to see for myself.
Shark’s Egg by Henrietta Rose-Innes (2000, Kwela Books)
A dark coming-of-age story set in Cape Town, Shark’s Egg tells the story of Anna’s schoolgirl friendship with the magnetic, destructive Leah, and their ambiguous adult relationship. Alan, Anna’s first lover, becomes the focus of a moral and sexual struggle between them as adults – played out against the menacing backdrop of the sea.
About the Author
Henrietta Rose-Innes is a South African writer based in Cape Town. Her novel Nineveh was published by Random House Struik in 2011, following a short-story collection, Homing (2010), and two earlier novels: Shark’s Egg (2000) and The Rock Alphabet (2004).
In 2012, her short story ‘Sanctuary’ took second place in the BBC International Short Story Competition. Nineveh was shortlisted for the 2012 Sunday Times Fiction Prize and the M-Net Literary Award. In 2008, Henrietta won the Caine Prize for African Writing, for which she was shortlisted in 2007. Also in 2007, she was awarded the South African PEN Literary Award. Shark’s Egg was shortlisted for the 2000 M-Net Literary Award.
Her short stories have appeared in various publications, including Granta, AGNI and The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011. A collection of short pieces, translated into German, was published in September 2008 as Dream Homes.
She is currently Donald Gordon Creative Arts Fellow at the the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts (GIPCA), University of Cape Town.