A new arrival on the South African publishing landscape warrants celebration, especially if the driving force behind it is someone of the stature of Karina Szczurek. Karina has been active in the industry as a writer, editor and critic for many years, and, in 2019, decided to realise her dream of launching her own publishing house. Thus Karavan Press was born.
Her stated aim with the venture is to provide a nurturing environment to those stories that would otherwise have been left out in the cold. The notion of “home” is a guiding principle for Karina and Karavan Press has truly become a home for the authors it has published thus far. Through her guidance their work has made an instant impact on the local literary scene, eliciting wonderful responses at book launches, literary festivals and in the media.
As an avid reader across genres, Karina has a finely honed sense of what stories speak to her. As a writer herself, she is especially sensitive to the needs of authors. From the beginning it was apparent that she is daring in her approach to publishing, yet someone who also takes great care to ensure that Karavan Press’s work is of the highest quality.
Last year she took on the challenge, for example, of publishing Theatre Road, Sindiwe Magona’s biography of theatre legend Thembi Mtshali-Jones, in record time – to coincide with Mtshali-Jones’s 70th birthday celebrations. This excellent account of the famous singer and actor’s life was chosen by reviewers of the Sunday Times as one of the “most outstanding books” of 2019. Mtshali-Jones’s inspirational journey from the village of Sabhozi in Kwazulu-Natal to stages across the globe, set against the backdrop of South Africa’s struggle for freedom, is lovingly retold by her dear friend, collaborator and national treasure in her own right, Sindiwe Magona.
Theatre Road joins A Fractured Land and Shadow Flicker by Melissa A. Volker, and Breaking Milk by Dawn Garisch, as the first four books to carry the Karavan Press imprint.
Melissa A. Volker was an immediate match for Karavan Press, writing romance novels with an environmental slant and noir-like twists. Not only is Volker passionate about spreading awareness of eco issues, her stories also feature strong, independent female protagonists and she has looked to break down gender stereotypes in her writing. A Fractured Land is an unusual love story set in the Karoo town of Graaff-Reinet that deals with the topical issue of fracking. In Shadow Flicker, the action takes place in St Francis Bay, where locals oppose the planned construction of a wind farm and trouble brews to a boiling point as a city girl falls for a local surfer.
Acclaimed writer and poet Dawn Garisch has also joined Karavan Press for the publication of her latest novel, Breaking Milk. Garisch is the author of seven novels, a non-fiction work, memoir and poetry collection, and also works as a medical doctor in Cape Town. Breaking Milk explores the relationships between people, animals and the environment. Set on a farm in the Eastern Cape, motherhood especially is examined as the protagonist Kate worries about her estranged daughter Jess’s conjoined twins that are to be separated during a surgery in London, while her employee Nosisi anxiously awaits the return of her son from his initiation camp.
Karavan Press is a welcome addition to the literary scene. It aims to provide a literary shelter for stories that cover many different genres and themes, but have a few things in common: exceptional writing, the ability to capture the heart and imagination, and the benefit of Karina Szczurek’s skill, generosity and finesse as publisher.
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