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Jonathan Ball

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Jeremy Gordin Tries to Answer the Justice Malala Question

ZumaBeing a columnist isn’t easy, says Jeremy Gordin. For columnists like Justice Malala it can be even trickier, having to constantly find new evidence that the “sky above Seffrica is indeed going to topple tomorrow”. In one of Malala’s latest columns, South Africans are guilty of ignoring their own literary talents – while America’s president is snapped with Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom under his arm, it is unlikely that South Africa’s Jacob Zuma will ever be caught reading Damon Galgut’s In a Strange Room. But then Malala goes on to mention Thami Zulu, and unfortunately, says Gordin, this is where he reveals his own literary ignorance:

I think, brothers and sisters, that it is exceptionally difficult to be a weekly columnist. I think we should all spare a thought – maybe switch on our headlights between 10 and 11am this morning – for newspaper columnists.

Some of you nasty people out there read pieces and proclaim snottily, “Oh well, this is quite good” (dankie, baas, dankie) or “This is terrible and boring”, as though you were our grade seven class teachers. Yet most of you can’t string together a simple sentence, let alone spell Gedleyihlekisa. Meanwhile, we columnists have to be crisp, creative and funny, if that’s our alleged bag.

Or, if we are Justice Malala of The Times, we have to find weekly proof that the sky above Seffrica is indeed going to topple tomorrow. Or, if we are Malala (yet again – what deja vu!), we have to grow deeply indignant on a weekly basis about the disappearance of the soul of the ANC, and so on.

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