Five minutes with author Mark Gevisser

25 February 2014 - 02:43 By Jackie May
Image: Ellen Elmendorp

Mark Gevisser's new book, Lost and Found in Johannesburg, is a personal map, an attempt to grapple with the way South Africans live within, and transgress, the boundaries set for us.

Why do you write?

To understand things better.

What's the first book you read that made you think differently?

Virginia Woolf's The Waves and, before that, the Street Guide to the Witwatersrand.

If you had more time in your day how would you use it?

Getting lost.

What is your favourite place to write?

In my study with the afternoon sun pouring in, or at a cafe where I've persuaded them to make me lattes with the soy milk I keep in their fridge.

Who are your literary heroes?

Virginia Woolf, Leo Tolstoy, the young VS Naipaul.

What is on your bedside table?

Damon Galgut's extraordinary new Arctic Summer; too many volumes of Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time, William Dalrymple's The Last Mughal.

Tell us something few people know about you?

I write naked. Although not in the cafe.

What's your golden rule?

Try to see the other side.

How long did it take to write 'Lost and Found in Johannesburg?'

Three years.

What are you working on next?

A book about the new "global culture wars" over sexual rights.

  • 'Lost and Found in Johannesburg', published by Jonathan Ball, is at Exclusive Books for R220