Sunday, March 7, 2010

Roger Smith

Keith Rawson interviewed Roger Smith, author of Mixed Blood and Wake Up Dead, for Spinetingler Magazine. Part of their dialogue:

You paint Cape Town as an intensely violent city in both Mixed Blood and Wake Up Dead, how much of that is fiction and how much of it is fact?

My books are fiction, of course, but they are a very realistic depiction of Cape Town. All of Cape Town, not just the tourist spots.

The Cape Flats – the flipside of the Cape Town picture postcard – is about as violent a place as you’ll find outside of a war zone. Forty years ago, the apartheid government dumped anybody who wasn’t white out in this windswept maze of shacks and matchbox houses. Ruled by drug lords and gangsters, the Flats has the highest number of rapes and murders in South Africa, and sex crimes against children are off the charts.

You’ve been criticized for the amount of violence in your novels, what is your attitude when you read these kinds of reactions and does it ever cause you to second guess yourself when you’re writing?

As I’ve said, I live in – and write about – an extremely violent country. I don’t portray anything that doesn’t happen every day in South Africa. I loathe the comic book porno-violence of a lot of European and U.S. crime writing (and movies, TV and video games, for that matter) where bloodshed is used to titillate. People aren’t turned on by what I write – they’re shocked. As they should be. Each day children are raped and slaughtered out on the Cape Flats, just miles from where I live. My partner – who grew up out on the Flats – counsels abused children, and tells me stories that give me nightmares. If this was happening anywhere in the West there would be an outcry. Here it barely makes the newspapers.

Every South African has had...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Roger Smith's website.

The Page 69 Test: Mixed Blood.

The Page 69 Test: Wake Up Dead.

--Marshal Zeringue