- Category: TOW 2013
Elana Bregin’s writing career kicked off with ‘bad poetry’ at the age of 8 and she’s been writing in one form or another ever since. Her work has drawn its share of controversy over the years because of the unconventional lens it looks through and its sometimes frank treatment of sensitive issues.
Apart from the award-winning young adult titles that she became known for, Bregin’s books include the magic-realist novel, The Slayer of Shadows, which caused a furore among Cornwall librarians when it was first published in the UK, on account of its hard-hitting examination of 1990s internecine violence. The South African version subsequently won the English Academy’s Percy Fitzpatrick Award in 2000. This was followed by the co-authored Kalahari RainSong, published in 2004, which explored, through the medium of Belinda Kruiper’s personal story, the cultural, spiritual and survival challenges of the Northern Cape Bushman community.
Published in 2009, Bregin’s insightful novel, Shiva’s Dance examines the troubled world of a suicidal teenager, reflecting the author’s own interest in Buddhist and Hindu spiritual principles in its quest for answers. It was described by the Mail&Guardian’s Jane Rosenthal as “a lovely book … [that] gives an understated reflection of the cultural, religious and racial complexity of Durban now”.
Bregin’s latest novel, Survival Training for Lonely Hearts, combines ‘thorny romance’ with social commentary in order to chart the interpersonal and social divides that characterise South Africa’s turbulent present. Cape Times praised the novel as a “compelling tale of the pursuit of love touches on SA’s prickly issues”.
Bregin says her writing is a constant grappling to capture the fecund complexity of SA in ways that don’t diminish its difficulties but simultaneously deliver a page-turning story. She works as an editor for publishers UKZN Press.
Survival Training for Lonely Hearts, Pan Macmillan, 2012
Shiva’s Dance, Jacana Media, 2009
Kalahari RainSong (with Belinda Kruiper), UKZN Press, 2004
A School for Amos, Reed Books UK, 1997