South African Fiction

ARTEBY Author Interviews 2016

Arteby Author Interviews

This Author Interview on Magical Realism and other themes related to the brand-new South African novelThe Immortal Life of Piu Piu’ was conducted by Arteby Publishing (AP) on 17th January, 2016, based on a series of 10 questions. Here’s question 5 – we recommend you listen to the author’s response and thoughts on the video, and, if you wish, you may follow along on the transcript below. In case you have missed it, here is Author Interview 4.


AP: Your story plays in South Africa. I notice that you unite different races and cultures within one family, including the strong presence of an imaginary ancestor, which is quite typical for African Literature. Is this a political story?

BG: No, I kept politics entirely out of it . . . although taking any particular viewpoint always has . . . somewhere . . . a political edge, if you will.

This story – as confirmed by a number of readers – is a gentle . . . someone called it ‘therapeutical’ . . .  journey to that hidden place within us that no one talks about when we are little people. Nor does it ever appear in schools. So it is bound to lose its significance. Then we tend to neglect it . . . and eventually forget about it as we grow up as separate individuals in this, our so-called REAL physical world. This is a tragedy as it’s the purest, most vulnerable and hence most precious and authentic spot we all own. It’s where we are our true selves. It’s a place where we are closest to our soul. Therefore, it’s also the place where we are all connected – and I really mean everyone, free from any form of judgement or privileged hierarchical corset. A place where we know and love one another – not in a romantic fashion, but in an encompassing, unconditional way – as the magnificent energy beings we truly are.

That’s how it is . . . at least in my world!

Survival of the fittest

As our young heroine soon finds out directly from her dad, the dominant reality of life on earth is that we live in a dualistic time-constrained plane, where we are drawn into a cruel game called  ‘The survival of the fittest’ . This implies scarcity thinking instead of abundance wisdom, fierce competition instead of mutual cooperation. Everything seems to serve a purpose, after which it’s cold coffee, thrown away, disposed, gone – and fast! This leaves little room for empathy and magic, and as we’re subliminally conditioned to ‘fit in’ – from the cradle to the grave – we lose touch with our true selves, our essence. We lose our dreams, and worst of all: we allow ourselves to be overpowered and dominated by the many expressions of . . . FEAR!

Sadly, this is a way of abandoning our hope and giving up on our dreams. We’re dying to who we really are – instead of exploring what we came here to be!

What is your biggest fear?

We all have fears. Love cannot breathe where fear reigns – and what we fear, we attract. So we want to find a path to identify, understand, and overcome our fears – fears like jealousy, abandonment, death. This is what is addressed in the book, on a much deeper level, of course. Reading the book with time and inner focus will be a healing experience in ways that may surprise!

To get back to your question: yes, I bring a number of races together in a very natural way, each nourishing and enriching the other with their cultural heritage and wisdom as I believe it should be. Our differences were never meant to separate us, but to show the rich diversity of life!

To give you an example:

Discover Passion and Purpose

Our main protagonist, Pippa, is the offspring of an African woman – whose ancestors came from Namibia and Germany – and a South African dad. She is a typical ‘Rainbow Nation’  kid – a result of true magic – call it ‘Madiba Magic’ . . . but don’t forget, in those magical, memorable days in 1994, it was a whole nation that connected as ONE and reached for ONE dream! A whole nation! Imagine that! I was blessed to be part of that unique moment in space and time . . . and I will write about it . . . one day. Not now. In this book, race or political criticism are not the issue – going back to our roots and discovering our passion and purpose are.

We all have them – and if they’re buried, we need to dig them out in order to free ourselves and fly!

As such, our young and inquisitive heroine is not only conscious of something happening ‘to her’, but she uses all her courage – sometimes in bone-thrilling adventures – to discover and understand what it . . . and who she . . . actually is. While her closeness to Nature and the many wild creatures who are her constant guides, certainly help, she regularly clashes with her dad, a pilot and contentious figure whose temper forces her to reveal her strength. But – through a wonderful coup of MAGIC that blends into her REAL world – it will be her German great-grandfather, a botanist, long dead, who supports her in her quest for knowledge and takes her back to her roots.

No, I won’t reveal more. But I assume this is the ‘strong presence of an imaginary ancestor so typical in African literature’ you alluded to here. Whereby my vision differs: to me, the German Great-grandfather is by no means imaginary . . . he’s REAL! If he was . . . he still ‘is’ . . . as time only exists ‘here’, and all we do as we pass from life to life to life is changing our frequency, our vibration. Which means a number of things . . . with many more things to be discovered, but it’s an area of intense research we’re advancing into right now – and this is so very exciting – and I feel beneficial! – for all of us!

On a lighter note: time has a different dimension in Africa, you know. Especially, in Namibia . . . where I was born, where I love to return to from time to time . . .

And as you know, I’m just the storyteller . . .

AP: Thank you, Namibia is a magical country indeed! It’s good to speak freely about race in a country like South Africa – the famous ‘Rainbow Nation’. Which brings me to my next question, number 6!

Please stay tuned; the transcript of part 6 of our Arteby Author Interview with Bianca Gubalke on her book in the literary genre ‘Magical or Magic Realism’ will follow soon!