Sally Andrew’s debut RECIPES FOR LOVE AND MURDER: A TANNIE MARIA MYSTERY was launched last Wednesday at Kalk Bay Books in Cape Town, after being published in Australia by Text last month. It will be published in November in the US by Ecco Press, in Canada by HarperCollins and in the UK by Canongate – a wonderful handful of English language publishers around the world!
Alexander McCall Smith hailed the novel as ‘a triumph’ and this ‘culinary and linguistic treat’ (The Bookseller, Editor’s Choice) with ‘fascinating setting, engaging characters and a full complement of drool-worthy recipes’ (Library Journal, Starred Review) has also been described as ‘a delightful debut, tender and funny’ (Kirkus, Starred Review).
Kalk Bay Books is in a beautiful stone building between the mountain and the sea in Cape Town, South Africa. The bookshop was packed (‘no room for a flea’ as @LieslJobson said) and the evening was chock-full of laughter, love, and amazing cakes. Umuzi gave Sally a beautiful birthday cheesecake with the face of Tannie Maria on it and delicious cakes as featured in the book were baked for the event.
To make it extra-special, the launch took place on Sally’s birthday. She wore a debutante (or as she calls it, a ‘debut tannie’) red dress of silk and cotton velvet, and red veldskoene with a Karoo veld ‘polish’ of dust and scratches. Acclaimed South African actress Sandra Prinsloo, who narrates the audio edition of the novel, presented Sally with a birthday gift of oven gloves – “because you are too hot to handle” and Sally put this to good use when signing copies afterwards.
The conversation was peppered with Sally’s thanks to all the people present who had contributed to the book, with particular praise for her parents, and added: "Thank you so much to BFLA, and to my publishers in South Africa and internationally for giving me the best birthday present of my life."
Some moments that had the audience laughing:
Sandra Prinsloo: “I see that, so far, Recipes for Love and Murder will be translated into thirteen languages: Polish, Estonian, Italian, Spanish, Catalan, Chinese, Italian, Swedish, Hebrew, Dutch, German, Turkish and French. That’s amazing. I assume that you will be doing all these translations yourself?
Sally Andrew: “Yes, of course. The magic of a book is in the poetry of its words. It does mean that it will be some time before they are published, because it is a slow process to learn thirteen new languages simultaneously.”
Sandra asked Sally if it was difficult to achieve the right balance between serious and funny in the novel. Sally said that ‘serious’ was in her bones because of her history as an activist, but “the humour also came quite naturally. In fact I was christened ‘Silly’ at birth, and it was only after some bad experiences in Kindergarten that I changed my name to ‘Sally’.”
When asked for writerly advice, Sally said it was probably a little early in her career: “My life might go to pot,” she said, “and following my advice may lead you down some dangerous path.” She recommended that people rather listen to Sandra instead, but did advise, wisely: “Try and find that space in the Venn diagram where your greatest joy overlaps with the needs of the world.”
You can see photographs of Sally reading and signing (with oven glove!) above.
Sally Andrew divides her time between the Cape Town coast and a nature reserve near Ladismith in the Klein Karoo, which she shares with her artist partner, a giant eland and a secretive leopard. You can see her beautiful home landscape and share her pleasure in nature and food by looking at the photos and videos on her website: www.sallyandrew.co