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Tuesday, May 18, 2021


A collection of stories that will haunt, engage, and disturb you. (Review by Christine E Hann)

Mad Honey is a collection of eight short stories by SJ Naudé that take you on a journey across the globe: Cape Town, Iceland, Belgium, The Alps, New England and finally to Namibia. A collection of stories that will haunt, engage, and disturb you.

My favourite was a haunting piece called Two Librettos and is comprised of two Arias. The first from a mother to her recently-deceased son, and the responding aria from the son to her. The emotions and descriptive images stayed with me long after I had finished the story. Just beautiful.

Also of note, is the last story in the collection, which is a work in three parts, that follows the journey of two friends - a young Namibian called Thomas and his Japanese friend Mio - who form part of a group of students from Bristol University. Part one begins as the group re-unites on a skiing holiday in Italy, which turns to tragedy as old foes battle each other and the forces of nature. We then move to a meeting in a Chateau perched on the side of a dangerous ravine, that has a dark pool of glowing eels. A claustrophobic night of emotions and discomfort, that leads to a rapid departure for Thomas. Finally, there is a re-union in the deserts of Namibia, a wilderness that disturbs Mio intently. The two finally reach an understanding of who they are, and what they mean to each other as they watch the waves of a grey-green sea together.

The other six stories evoked images and feelings, not all ones that I was comfortable with, but then, some books are intended to make you think and feel a little uncomfortable.

SJ Naudé is a South African lawyer and author. He studied Law at the University of Pretoria, and subsequently studied at the University of Cambridge and the Columbia Law School. He has worked in New York and London for many years, and currently lives in Cape Town, South Africa. His first collection of short stories, The Alphabet of Birds, won several awards. Another work is The Third Reel.

His second collection of short stories, Mad Honey has been eagerly awaited by his readers. - Christine E Hann

Mad Honey is published by Penguin Random House UK – 2021. ISBN 9781415210673