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Protea Boekhuis

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Réney Warrington’s October Launched at Bibliophilia with Izak de Vries

Réney Warrington

The vibrant colours and energy that suffused the air on a recent early summer’s evening made Bibliophilia the perfect spot for the launch of Réney Warrington‘s debut novel in English, October. This small independent bookshop, with its focus on books on photography and art and its in-store photographic exhibition, was where Afrikaans author and publishing consultant Izak de Vries came to talk about the latest publication from Protea Boekhuis. He was one of the first readers of the book, which is published in Afrikaans as Oktober.

Réney Warrington and Izak de VriesOctoberDe Vries said Warrington touches on a number of topics that are seldom visited in the realm of the imagination that fiction permits.

After reading a short passage from the book, De Vries spoke about Warrington as a photographer and the photographs contained in the book. He praised her deft interweaving of the images and text as an integral part of the book.

“Every chapter starts with a black and white photo, and there are colour photos at the book’s centre,” said De Vries. “These represent the empty spaces of the narrator Jo Bester’s life.” He chatted to Warrington about the way her artistry as a photographer informs her writing. She said, “Often the thing you don’t photograph, what you leave out and what you don’t discuss is more powerful by its absence.” De Vries reflected on the toys in the images, which he described as almost more powerful than the children who played with them because they are truly missing from the narrator’s life.

Jo, a lesbian, has been forbidden by her homophobic family from seeing the niece and nephew with whom she has a vital and meaningful connection. Warrington writes from firsthand experience: “All I had left was the empty spaces where they had lived.” She had endured the grief by transforming the bitter blow life dealt her into fiction and images. She said October had touched a raw nerve, giving voice to the loss that many queer people experience when families reject them and deny them access to the children they have loved.

The book also touches on the theme of disability and resilience, and the beauty of what happens when people make real choices in the name of love.

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Liesl Jobson tweeted live from the launch using #livebooks

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