Writing short stories, with Zukiswa Wanner

Mon Aug 8, 18:30 - Thu Aug 11, 20:30
Bridge Books, CBD


''I don't really understand a novel,'' Alice Munro once said in an interview. ''I don't understand where the excitement is supposed to come in a novel, and I do in a story. There's a kind of tension that if I'm getting a story right I can feel right away, and I don't feel that when I try to write a novel. I kind of want a moment that's explosive, and I want everything gathered into that.''

Some writers look at short stories as a sort of warm up lap, before they plunge into a novel. But short stories present their own unique challenges, and require a certain set of skills to master. For readers, short stories also bring special joys.

Acclaimed writer Zukiswa Wanner will spend one week at Bridge Books working with a group of 10 writers on perfecting their short stories. To get the most out of the workshop, writers should have a draft or at least a premise of a story. The drafts will be emailed to Zuki by 24 July, so that she can prepare to mentor each writer and facilitate a group discussion productively.

By the end of the week, writers should have a polished story ready for submission to contests and publications. Bridge Books will help with contacts for literary magazines and contests, so that writers can find a home their work. If writers are willing, the stories will also be published on the Bridge Books website.

There's no preconditions for joining the workshop: just a desire to write, to work hard at writing, and to have fun doing it.

Please note, this workshop runs on the Women's Day public holiday. Workshop sessions are from 6:30pm to 8:30pm, on four consecutive days, Monday, 8 August through Thursday, 11 August.



When Zukiswa Wanner told her mother she had decided to be a full-time writer back in 2006 her mum retorted, “Baby, we all learnt to write in first grade, why can’t you aspire to something better?” It was an insight into how the world looks at writers and writing as a full-time job.

Wanner is the 2015 winner of South African Literary Award’s  K.Sello Duiker Award for her fourth novel, London Cape Town Joburg. Her third novel , Men of the South was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Best Book (Africa region) and the Herman Charles Bosman Awards.  Wanner’s debut novel, The Madams was shortlisted for the K.Sello Duiker Prize. Passionate about African literature and its promotion, Wanner was one of the three judges of the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Fiction, sits on the board of the pan-African literary initiative Writivism and is on the Advisory Board of the Ake Literary Festival. She has facilitated the Caine workshop in Ghana (2015), the Writivism workshop in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda (2015, 2014, 2013), Femrite workshop (2013) and other writing workshops in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Germany.

After her first two books came out, one of her genius compatriots dubbed Wanner  ‘the best black chick-lit writer in South Africa’ (ignore for a moment that the majority of South Africa’s population are blacks chicks) to much agreement from many literary  journalists who took on the label.  Wanner then decided to write her third book from a male perspective. Men of the South was the most critically-acclaimed of the first three books  yet Wanner has lived with intense disappointment since 2010 because no-one has yet referred to her as  the ‘best black dick-lit writer in south Africa.”

She is also a columnist for the continental publication New African, and Saturday Nation in Kenya.

Wanner lives in Nairobi with her laptop, her fridge, her son and her partner.  On hot days, she prefers Castle Lites on the veranda to pina coladas and getting caught in the rain.


The Madams (Oshun, 2006)

Behind Every Successful Man (Kwela, 2008)

Men of the South (Kwela ,2010)

A Prisoner’s Home (co-authored with Alf Kumalo Penguin, 2010)

Behind the Shadows (co-edited with Rohini Chowdhury Amazon, 2012)

Jama Loves Bananas [children’s book] (Jacana, 2012)

Maid in SA: 30 Ways to Leave Your Madam (Jacana, 2013)

Refilwe [children’s book] (Jacana, 2014)

London  Cape Town Joburg (Kwela, 2014)


Writing short stories, with Zukiswa Wanner
Bridge Books, CBD
85 Commissioner St, Johannesburg, 2000, South Africa
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