Catching Up with Trillium Book Award Finalist Danila Botha

Cover photo by Jowita Bydlowska

A guest post by Kathleen Anderson

The short fiction collection, For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known, by Danila Botha is a finalist for the Trillium Book Award 2017, and I had the chance to chat with Danila about her nomination and her love of short storytelling. She was overjoyed when she learned that she was a finalist for the award, comparing the nomination to getting an incredible and unexpected present. “It’s wonderful for the book to be recognized like that, and it’s wonderful to be in the company of such incredible writers,” she said. “It’s an honour and I’m so thrilled.”

Our conversation about short stories sent Danila’s mind reeling with the many collections she’s read, as well as the long list of reasons that she loves the medium. “I really enjoy the economy of the form,” she said. “Every word and every sentence has to be quite meaningful. You sometimes have two or three sentences to tell a backstory, and I really like the challenge of that.”

The stories that make up For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known, Danila’s second short fiction book, explore the complexity of love and relationships. Though there is connectivity between a few stories, each one holds the reader in a moment. We peer into the characters’ lives as they experience joy or confusion or heartbreak, and their emotions are real. The ability to pinpoint snapshots in time and draw the reader into individual moments of emotion makes short stories unique from longer fiction. “You can leave the reader in a place where they continue to wonder what happened to the character long afterward,” Danila said.

I asked Danila what writerly advice she would give if she could speak to her younger self. She had a long list: she’d tell herself to read a lot, remind herself to persevere through frustration and the many drafts that aren’t quite right, and assure herself that her work will be greeted by an incredibly warm and supportive community.

One of her key pieces of advice was about cultivating her own individuality as a writer and having confidence in her uniqueness. She said, “The things that are different about us, which can be scary because we love other people’s work for completely different reasons, are sometimes the things that are the most interesting about our work and the things that we should explore.” While she is captivated by the work of many other authors (for example, Etgar Keret’s ability to be simultaneously emotionally impactful and incredibly succinct, and Heather O’Neill’s “magical” metaphors), she insisted on the value of trusting her own instincts as a writer.

The Trillium Book Award nomination is an indication that her instinct has led her right. The book went through a long process to reach this point of celebration: from its initial inspiration that came from reading love-and-heartbreak-laden books, poems, and stories, such as Lynn Crosbie’s Liar; through her research process, where she spoke to people about their relationships; and through the writing process, sometimes frustrating, sometimes emotion-filled, but always underpinned with “an element of pure pleasure,” Danila said.

Now that the book has landed in the hands, eyes, and minds of its audience, Danila is effusively grateful for the encouraging and thoughtful response it has received. “You always feel a little bit vulnerable when something comes out, whatever it is,” she said, “especially when it’s emotional in nature. But people have been absolutely kind and supportive.”

You can find For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known here.

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For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known—Danila Botha

For All the Men cover

Cover photo by Jowita Bydlowska

ISBN: 9781988040080
Price: $21.95

Finalist for the 2017 Trillium Book Award!




In For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known, Danila Botha explores the nuances and complexity of relationships, from love to betrayal. In these eighteen unforgettable stories, Botha creates characters so authentic, readers are convinced that they know them personally. As in her debut collection, Got No Secrets, Botha excels at blending literary techniques with popular zeitgeist. With her trademark honest and singular voice, Botha exposes the desire for human connection above all things. The collection is hopeful, fearless, and utterly relatable.

“Everyone in this book is alive. Painfully, nervously, ardently. This collection, (like Chekhov by way of Kathy Acker but utterly original), is truthful and dreamy, tough and tremulous; sad and aching, seductively, with hope.—Lynn Crosbie, author of Where Did You Sleep Last Night

“With an ear for poetry and a knack for tragedy, Danila Botha is an expert on yearning. These stories are for anyone who has ever loved and lost, but not let go.”—Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall, author of Ghosted

For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known is unlike anything I have ever read before. Unflinchingly honest in its examination of love in all its joyful, messy, agonizing, spectacularly beautiful glory, these stories seem to vibrate on their own emotional frequency. Danila Botha writes with a heartbreaking rawness and intensity that will continue to haunt you long after you’ve turned the final page.”—Amy Jones, author of We’re All In This Together

“I discovered [author Danila Botha] while I was reading books for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award specifically her delightful first story collection, Got No Secrets. These two stories are brand new, stories written in a gutsy, head-on, colloquial style about love, sex and mis-connection among the urban 20-somethings she knows so well. Her characters are all compulsively themselves, driven, probably always, to make a mess of things, but vulnerable, full of desire, and often touchingly witty.”—Douglas Glover, author of Elle

“A searing and beautifully forthright collection about the angst, chaos, tragedy and hope in the quest for love. A series of unique, riveting and perfect portrayals that pulls no punches. Reading these stories made me smile and made me want to smash things.”—Lisa de Nikolits, author of Between the Cracks She Fell

“For All the Men has Botha delivering smart prose that seamlessly balances humour, disappointment, and dysfunction… Botha is an incredibly fresh voice in Canadian literature, and this remarkably visceral and unforgettable collection feels like it’s only setting the stage for much more to come.”—Liz Worth, Quill & Quire

“I devoured this collection, and I hope Ms. Botha continues to hone her craft producing more stories with that healthy touch of realism that she has come to be recognised for.” —Miramichi Reader

“Each of these stories are real and honest, open and gut-wrenching, and Botha makes them jump out from the page into your mind. The characters are unforgettable. This book will stay with you for a long time, as you ponder your own understanding of love long after you have shut the last page.”—Laurie Burns, Atlantic Books Today

“Botha’s characters freely indulge in sex and drugs and copious amounts of alcohol in their quest to find succour or peace, though it becomes readily apparent that what they are most intent on discovering… is some sort of authentic connection with another human being… The author is undeniably familiar with modern urban ennui, and the stories in her collection have an admirable directness and grit.”— Steven W. Beattie, Globe and Mail

“A series of orchestral variations whose loops and iterations are made vital by the steady introduction of new elements… stories full of people who disappoint, or are disappointed, yet they rarely end on a note of despair, which in today’s Tinder-enabled relationship landscape seems almost like an act of subversion… She [Botha] has a fine talent…”—Emily Donaldson, Toronto Star

“Botha’s collection thoughtfully, tragically, and insightfully captures the peculiarities of modern relationships in the time of texting, online dating, and an unnerving urban detachment we’ve come to recognize as a normal thing.”—The Literary Lollipop

Photo: Ayelet Tsabari

Photo: Ayelet Tsabari

Danila Botha is a fiction writer based in Toronto. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, she has lived in Israel, and in Nova Scotia. Her first collection of short stories, Got No Secrets, was praised by the Globe and Mail, the Chronicle Herald and the Cape Town Times. It was also named one of Britannica’s Books of the Year (Canadian short stories), and was published in South Africa in 2011. Her first novel, Too Much on the Inside, was shortlisted for the 2016 Relit Award and won a Book Excellence Award for Contemporary Novel. Her sophomore collection of short stories, For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known, was published in 2016 to rave reviews. It was also recently named a finalist for the 2017 Trillium Book Awards. She is currently working on her second novel and on a new collection of short stories. Read more on her website: www.danilabotha.com

 

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A Token of My Affliction-Janette Platana

ISBN: 9781926639758
Price: $16.95—special sale price

Finalist for the 2016 English Language Trillium Book Award!

Longlisted for The Frank O’Connor Short Story Prize!




Janette Platana’s cheerfully disturbing, gleefully outraged, and chillingly beautiful stories break open the lives of apparently ordinary people who struggle and sometimes succeed in living without compromise, refusing to sacrifice the world they sense to the world they see, and where things can be true without ever being real. The range of this accomplished and poetic voice may cause vertigo, owing, as it does, as much to the Clash to Stephen King, to Caitlin Moran as to Flannery O’Connor, and something to David Sedaris. A Token of My Affliction will make you laugh while breaking your heart wide open.

“Wild, witty and thought-provoking…”—Michelle Berry, author of Interference

Janette Platana’s writing is brave and vivid and full of tender sacrilege.”—David Bergen, author of The Time in Between

“Platana questions where choices originate from and what factors make us choose certain paths and not others.”—Derek Newman-Stille, Speculating Canada

“So funny. So perfect; so true. I really haven’t got one negative thing to say about this book. You should read it. Janette Platana is one of our best.” —Richard Rosenbaum, Broken Pencil

“This is an impressive collection of short stories.”—goodreads.com

“This collection is as brilliant as it is terrifying… For Janette Platana, to have an affliction is to be a person… I highly recommend this book.”—Evelyn Deshane, The Rusty Toque

“I’ve never read anything quite as raw as Janette Platana’s first collection of short stories, A Token of My Affliction…  if this is only Janette Platana’s debut collection, then we’ve all got a whole slew of incredible stories coming our way.—galaxyquill.com

“A magnifying glass that you hold up to an assortment of lives that look a lot like your own, and through that magnifying glass you see all the fascinating and horrible microscopic entities crawling over the surface and within the minuscule cracks of those lives.”—Andrew Forbes, 49th Shelf

platana

Janette Platana’s poetry and fiction have appeared in literary magazines across Canada, in the U.S., and in Turkey. Originally from Saskatchewan, and with a background in indie bands and improv comedy, she now lives and writes in Peterborough, Ontario. Her short story, “Dear Dave Bidini,” won This Magazine‘s 2009 Great Canadian Literary Hunt.  A Token of My Affliction is Janette’s debut collection of short fiction.

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