Re: RARA-AVIS: My ode to the Continental Op

From: Sean Shapiro (
Date: 14 Jan 2010

  • Next message: Brian Thornton: "Re: RARA-AVIS: My ode to the Continental Op"

    Great interview.
      I picked up a copy of ‘Mixed Blood’ on your recommendation last year and was well impressed.
      There was one thing, though, I found a little odd. While Roger Smith has no hesitation in showing the dark and seamy side of life in the Capehe is rather squeamish when it comes to the language people there use. He obviously made a conscious choice to write the book in such a way that South African slang or colloquialisms are rendered in a kind of ‘translated’ English—‘abalone’ for ‘perlemoen’, for example, and the thoughts and dialogue of characters, such as Rudi Barnard, which would probably be in Afrikaans or Afrikaans-inflected English rendered in straightforward English. On a whole I think the technique works. Especially in that it doesn’t alienate outsiders to South African culture. But his decision to balk at racial epithets—which, New South Africa or not, are still prevalent—makes them conspicuous by their absence. The harshest word he uses is ‘darkie’. Even by his own approximated English that seems a little tame. It’s
     like watching The Wire without the n-word appearing.
      I honestly don’t see this as a defect. I don’t exactly enjoy, let alone want my books to be peppered with racial epithets. Mixed Blood might lose something as far as ‘precise’ realism goes but it remains a ‘naturalistically’ accurate portrait of a chosen society. I am curious though about this choice of language. Was it entirely voluntary, based on the author’s repugnance or personal sensitivity towards this kind of language, or where there strong external factors that guided his hand—p.c. sensitive publishers or a desire not to court controversy in his home country.
      Anyway, again I have to say I enjoyed Mixed Blood tremendously. As an ex-pat South African it gives me great pleasure to see top notch crime fiction coming out of my heartland.
      Sean Shapiro

    ________________________________ From: davezeltserman <> To: Sent: Wed, January 13, 2010 2:59:23 PM Subject: RARA-AVIS: My ode to the Continental Op

      For anyone interested, here's a short note I wrote for Barnes & Noble about the Continental Op:

    http://bookclubs. barnesandnoble. com/t5/Ransom- Notes/Sleuthing- and-Stirring- the-Pot/ba- p/452195

    Also, here's my grilling Roger Smith about his books and South Africa:



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