Durban - ANA Costa always wanted to be a writer but her family said she couldn't make a living out of words. She ventured into the corporate world, then headed up her own fashion and textile business. However, when Covid-19 shut down the world it opened up a new one for Costa, where she was free to indulge in her long lost love for the written word.
Her passion paid off and next Saturday 320 Days of Sunshine ‒ Memoirs & Stories from KwaZulu-Natal will be launched at the Durban International Book Fair (#DIBF2023).
Edited by Costa and illustrated by Carmen Gee, the book weaves together 26 short stories and memoirs by people who have experienced the ebb and flow of life in this province.
How Costa came to be the author and contributing editor of this anthology is a story in itself. It was her vet, her “muse”, Dr Sanil Singh who inspired her to make her dream come true. Costa, an animal lover and rescuer, had contributed to a previous anthology edited by Singh and wanted to write something this year too. But commitments and a heavy workload meant Singh could not put together another book and he encouraged her to do it, promising he would contribute to the book.
Costa then contacted her friend, Gee, a travel writer, and just like that she already had the promise of three stories. The rest is history.
So many stories rolled in that some had to be omitted.
“Every time I sat down in front of my laptop it was like I was facing a huge personality, it wasn’t just separate parts. It was telling me that there was ubuntu all along but there were a lot of themes like bereavement, loss of loved ones, suicide, abuse, and I thought this needed special attention.”
The book was divided into the four seasons based on the time of the year in which they were set, but another one was added: the season of hope.
Costa asked contributor Zahida Wahab to help her to compile a list of hotlines and helplines which they could add as a resource to the book. “We need to reach out to people who are going through the same things. They (stories) all end on a good note but they are all substantially emotionally invested and there’s a lot of triggers in here.
“Anyone who is reading the book, even if it's one person who might be reaching out for help, this book could help them,” said Costa.
When journalist Glynis Horning saw the call for contributions she didn't hesitate to show her vulnerability. Still raw from the suicide of her son in 2019 and reflecting on the changes in a post-pandemic world, in The Walk she introduces readers to all the loved ones who had lived in her house in Manor Gardens and then died: her child, her parents, her in-laws. As she reconnects with them during her daily ambles it is also a chance for Horning to bask in the warmth of connections she encounters on her walks. “It’s about the beauty of this place, it’s about grief, it’s about loss but it’s about hope and it’s about growth.”
Despite crime and the litter she picks up as she walks with her dog, “there’s also that sense of ubuntu, of relationships; we greet people as we walk and there’s a feeling of warmth in our neighbourhood as well. I think that’s typical of Durbs and maybe it’s just a South African thing and luckily we still have that to hold onto”.
Singh said he wanted to reflect on his life in the Overport area and show how the people he met through his family’s tea room and the Group Areas Act shaped his life.
Durban International Book Fair co-founder Anivesh Singh said those who attend the launch of the book would have the chance to engage with the anthology’s contributors, gain insights into the creative process, and immerse themselves in the captivating stories that lie within the pages of the book.
“Readers can expect tales of adventure, resilience, and triumph, all intricately woven together to create an anthology that truly captures the spirit of KwaZulu-Natal people and places,” said Singh.
- 320 Days of Sunshine ‒ Memoirs & Stories from KwaZulu-Natal
- The programme for #DIBF23 can be found at www.durbanbookfair.co.za
The Independent on Saturday