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Justin Fox

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PEN SA’s Q&A with Justin Fox

Justin Fox

This is part of a series of profiles on PEN SA members:

Justin Fox is a photographer, travel writer and novelist. He has written many works of non-fiction and published his first novel Whoever Fears the Sea last year, which was longlisted for the 2014 Etisalat Prize for Literature.

Justin’s new book, The Impossible Five: One Man’s Search for South Africa’s Most Elusive Animals, will be out next month. He is on the board of PEN South Africa.

Favourite South African novel?

JM Coetzee, Life and Times of Michael K.

What are you working on at the moment?

My next book, The Impossible Five, is due out soon with Tafelberg. I’m busy with the final proofs. It’s about my (humorous, madcap) attempt to find South Africa’s five most elusive mammals.

Favourite part of the writing and publishing process?

Seeing the wretched thing on a shelf in the bookshop, quietly minding its own business.

Any advice for writers starting out?

Make sure you have a decent-paying day job.

Hardest part of the writing and publishing process?

I have yet to find the easy part.

South African writers or books that have made an impact on you?

Stephen Watson, JM Coetzee, Breyten Breytenbach, Alan Paton, Lawrence Green, Eugene Marais, Olive Schreiner, Ivan Vladislavic, Damon Galgut.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m steeping myself in World War II naval literature with the vague idea of writing a maritime novel set in Simon’s Town during the war.

If you had to pick one book to give to all South Africans to read what would it be?

William Dicey, Borderline.

Any characters that have stuck with you?

The austere protagonist of WG Sebald’s Austerlitz.


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