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David Chislett

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Half-Way Through A Novel…

So, half-way through January, I have now hit the half-way mark of my novel. Man am I pleased! I started work on this book probably nearly 5 years ago when I first started developing the idea.

Initially I wanted to do a graphic novel. But then I realised, first there needs to be a novel! So I spent a good couple of years plotting and scheming and researching. Johannesburg is a fascinating place. I am almost prepared to put good money on the fact that, if you think you know JHB history, you don’t really. It’s way weirder and more interesting than you might think.
Solid Progress

So, I just finished chapter 24 today… that’s 24 out of 48 done. I am really pleased. This also means my word count is sitting at around the 144 000 mark… that’s a lot of writing. Actually about 44 000 words more than your average length novel. So we are dealing with a beast here!

I am on a serious role with the writing too, so I do think I will be finished by the end of February, or early march. Mean time, my good friend and editor Marc Pienaar is going to be wading through the first two parts checking my dodgy typo’s, looking for logical inconsistencies and generally giving it a good first edit.
The Characters Involved

My ensemble cast of characters is springing to life in lovely new ways and the story really is beginning to sweep me along for the ride. The 2nd half has gotten pretty bleak and dark in places with some CRAZY stuff starting to happen. Part 3 will be all about tracking that through to its conclusion so that part 4 can finish with some sort of reconciliation of the matters put into motion during part 2… sjoe!

One of my characters is my returned-exile poet, Sbu. He has some interesting stuff to confront in his return to South Africa and they city where he grew up. He also has some writerly stuff to work out and a place of bedrock to find with regards to WHO he actually is. The extract below comes in the last chapter of part 2 as Sbu begins to confront his position in the now as a writer who has NOT been writing (wonder where I got that from!?!?!?)

Enjoy the extract, there’ll be more next week!

“And even as he toys with the cardboard of the notebook cover, an idea steals over his mind of a series of portraits on Johannesburgers: sketched through his perception of their nature and the filter of his experience. A series of story poems that trace the groupings and the thinking of the more identifiable clumps of Joburgers. A poetic ode to a city that has become truly African and has always had its arms wide open for anyone who came along and was prepared to work hard for a buck. Modern tribes, as easily identifiable buy their location, dress and conversation as any nomadic hunter gatherers of the past.  Some with epic histories, thousands of miles away, some newly formed right here in this place, some from further north or south, each with a legacy, an identity, coming together in a place which seems to pride itself on having neither, save the greed of getting ahead. A great convocation of souls brought together to worship in one enormous church, this city, this city of Johannesburg.”
From “Johannesburg: a novel”
©David Chislett 2013


Follow the whole story of the novel’s development on


Recent comments:

  • Ben - Editor
    Ben - Editor
    January 16th, 2013 @08:28 #

    Good luck with the home stretch, David!

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">David Chislett</a>
    David Chislett
    January 17th, 2013 @05:26 #

    Thanks Ben! Now the fun begins hey!


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