As we may have mentioned before (loudly), we are in the brilliant business of finding wonderful new authors, creating beautiful new books and recommending these books to readers. Our books come from all manner of different countries around the world, and in some cases we are responsible for bringing a story to the UK for the very first time – always exciting!
This month, it was South African author Edyth Bulbring’s A MONTH OF APRIL-MAY that made its UK debut. It’s a one-eyebrow-raised account of a teenager’s trials and tribulations as she navigates a new school, a new family situation and a whole new way of life, set in the city of Johannesburg. First published by Penguin South Africa under the title MELLY, MRS. HO & ME, it was Edyth’s voice and April-May’s attitude that excited editor Sara O’Connor when it first landed in her inbox…
“April-May says it like it is. She’s the girl I wish I could have been when I was a teen, and the girl I definitely wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of. Yes, the story is set in South Africa, but it doesn’t feel foreign. The slang words could just as easily be British slang (as an American in London there are often phrases that I need a glossary for things like “bodge job” and “wangle”). This book is just an hilarious story about a girl trying to settle into a new school, and convince the most goreous guy she’s ever seen that her name is really Bella and that he should be her Edward.”
When buying books from outside the UK, there are always small edits to be considered – maybe we should change some slang, or in the case of American books, the spelling – to ensure that it was right for a UK audience. It’s a tricky balancing act between readability and keeping the cultural essence of the book intact. South African slang is a huge feature of APRIL-MAY, so instead of Anglicising the speech, we decided instead to include a glossary…
Hands up who already knew some!!
What we love about reading is its ability to transport us, and it’s that feeling of discovery that we want to share with people. Equally, telling people about your city and culture is as exciting – it’s the same feeling when, far away from home, you meet someone from where you grew up. We are lucky enough to share that feeling with Edyth, and here some South African readers want to share it with you too:
“…every time I had a chance to read, I didn’t hesitate to take it out. It hooked me because it’s soooo real. Please, Edyth, keep writing!”
Danii Ferreira, 14 years old
“I would definitely recommend this to any reader who wants an insight of what school life is like for some people in South Africa! (a society that is divided economically).”
Aisha Setipa , 15 years old.
“…you get to live out startling experiences through the character without actually experiencing the consequences yourself. I think every schoolchild can relate to this book as it explores universal issues relating to authority, school and divorce.”
Emilie du Toit, 14 years old
“a witty portrayal of the bursary student April-May February, and her feats of vengeance against her substitute teacher and arch-enemy Mrs Ho. It is sure to bring forth a chuckle from all readers. I also loved that it gives such a fascinating insight into everyday Johannesburg life.”
Juliet Markantonatos, 14 years old
I enjoy the sense of humour and I think others from other countries will enjoy this too. It really tells the reader about school life, and Jozi school life in particular.”
Siobhan Mahlaule 14 years old