Continuing my game of catch-up with The Bookseller, I discover from the 15 Jan issue (p.19) that the London Book Fair this year will focus on South Africa. To celebrate this fact, Catherine Nelian interviews Deon Meyer, "one of the country's brightest crime writers", who will be appearing at the book fair this year as guest of honour, to celebrate the UK publication of his latest novel Thirteen Hours.
One positive aspect of living in South Africa is that the "Meyer" who is highest in the bestseller charts is Deon rather than Stephanie. Deon Meyer tells the Bookseller that "there has been an explosion of South African literature in the past few years, and there are some great new authors – a lot of black authors – not getting the recognition they deserve".
Thirteen Hours is Meyer's ninth novel, the sixth to be published in the UK. His books are written in Afrikaans and later translated into English – the "traditional British lack of engagement with translated fiction" is held to be the reason why Meyer's novels do not sell better over here (sales are apparently about 3,500 per novel). "When I write, I am very conscious of time, because it is such a wonderful mechanism for creating suspense", he says. "For the past two or three novels I have been playing around with time, to see whether I could write one that takes place in one day or less than a day."
Thirteen Hours is the result – a book in which detective (and ex-alcoholic) Benny Griessel is fighting against time to track down a young American backpacker in Cape Town. Griessel is a recurring character in Meyer's novels, first appearing in the author's debut, Dead Before Dying. None of Meyer's novels are formally part of a series, but they have recurring characters. Based on the two I have read so far, I think his novels are very good adventure thrillers, superbly conveying a sense of place as well as the internal landscape of the characters. He has been likened to Peter Temple, which is praise indeed.
Author website (includes bibliography, information about the books, and more).