S8E4 Bronwyn Law-Viljoen, Idra Novey & Sean O’Toole: The Exhilaration of Visual Art

06 Jul 2023
S8E4 Bronwyn Law-Viljoen, Idra Novey & Sean O’Toole: The Exhilaration of Visual Art

Sean O’Toole asks Bronwyn Law-Viljoen and Idra Novey about their novels Notes on Falling and Take What You Need. They discuss the emotional repertoires of their characters, the political context of their work, art-making as well as writing about mothers and daughters.

Sean O’Toole is a writer, editor and curator based in Cape Town. His two books are Irma Stern: African in Europe – European in Africa (2021), and The Marquis of Mooikloof and Other Stories (2006). He is the editor of three volumes of cultural essays, most recently The Journey: New Positions on African Photography (2020), which received a New York Times critics’ pick for Best Art Books 2021. He is the founder of Extemporary Press, an independent publisher exploring the nexus of art and fiction.

Bronwyn Law-Viljoen is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Adelaide and the former Head of Creative Writing at Wits University. She is co-founder and editor of Fourthwall Books, and former editor of Art South Africa magazine. She has doctorates from New York University and the University of the Witwatersrand. Her first novel, The Printmaker, (Umuzi, 2016) won the 2018 Olive Schreiner Prize. Her second novel, Notes on Falling was published by Umuzi/Penguin-Random House in 2022.

Idra Novey’s most recent novel Take What You Need (Viking, 2023) was named a spring fiction pick with The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She is the author of Those Who Knew (2019) and Ways to Disappear (2016), which received the 2017 Sami Rohr Prize and the 2016 Brooklyn Eagles Prize. Her poetry collections include Exit, Civilian, The Next Country and Clarice: The Visitor. Her works as a translator include Clarice Lispector’s novel The Passion According to G.H. and a co-translation with Ahmad Nadalizadeh of Iranian poet Garous Abdolmalekian, Lean Against This Late Hour. She teaches fiction at Princeton University.

In this episode we are in solidarity with Cuban artist and activist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara. We call for his freedom. You can read more about his case here and his art here. As tributes to him, Idra reads from Aimé Césaire’s “Notebook of a Return to the Native Land” (translated by A. James Arnold and Clayton Eshleman), Bronwyn reads two poems by Francisco Márquez, and Sean reads from “The Artist as Hostage: Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara” by Coco Fusco.

Listen to the episode here: