23 March 2011 by Dianne Tipping-Woods

The time of the (t)writer

Lauren Beukes is fast becoming one of my favourite South African writers, although I haven’t read anything by her yet. Well, not any of her novels anyway. I follow her on twitter: @laurenbeukes.

This was most likely the result of an interesting retweet by a friend or colleague because I hadn’t heard of her before. Without twitter, in fact, I may not have’ discovered’ her and, through her, a range of interesting South African (and other) writers, artists, illustrators who are producing exciting, creative work.

@laurenbeukes is incredibly generous with her tweets. It’s not just shameless self-promotion - there is lots of that out there too. Her tweets are part of a conversation and a sharing of information that may or may not benefit her - or anyone else - in any direct way at all.

It does though. Firstly because I know she exists now. And secondly, I’m more inclined to buy her books because I find her tweets (and the interests and network they reflect) intriguing and really, really cool.  I can’t wait to get hold of Zoo City. You should watch the trailer. I didn’t even know books had trailers! This one is awesome. It wouldn’t work if I felt like she was just trying to sell me something.

There are a couple of other writers I follow too, and journalists. Sometimes their tweets are serious, sometimes flippant, occasionally spurious. But they have led me to some pretty interesting places recently.

They reflect just how dynamic South African writing - and publishing - is at the moment and, how little of it I normally access. Whether it’s magical realism, science fiction, crime writing, social realism, reportage and even comics, there are people constantly creating new ways to talk about the beauty, dysfunction and crazy promise that typifies life in South Africa. And they’re doing it on twitter - the time of the t(writer) is here.

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