Lost in translation

2014-07-06 15:00

I do not want to go into the merits of the review and say who said what and did not say what, but I wish writer Charles Cilliers could have handled it in a more sensitive manner.

After identifying himself, the writer did not tell me that he was writing a review and that we were on record. He told me he had read my story over the weekend and asked me in a “by-the-way” sort of fashion what I thought of the book?

I told him I felt very happy to have the book in print because not many people can brag about having their name on the cover of a book – “my link to immortality”.

Then he asked me if it was all true, and it is where I attempted to explain it started out as nonfiction, but split into the realm of fiction, which is why it has two names on its cover and is titled under fiction.

It is very difficult for me to converse in English, which is neither my second nor third language. When you converse in it as a form of first language, sometimes and not always you might end up bumbling through it. What I can say is that the title of his review, “I feel like they prostituted my story”, totally misrepresents how I feel about this book.

I am very proud of it and as a co-author worked every step of the way with Jonathan Morgan to make it what it is.

I hoped Cilliers would have halted there when I told him it was a hybrid of fact and fiction, and asked me what I meant, and probably we would have had a very different article.

I had written the book more than a decade ago, and three or four years ago Jonathan dusted it off and decided to take a run with it and me.

What hurts me the most is that I might have used a word (prostituted) that I would not confer on somebody that I hold in the lowest esteem, and then it was turned around and used on something that had been a labour of love for both myself and Jonathan.

Sipho Madini

Co-author of White Paper White Ink

Charles Cilliers replies:

I stand by my opinion of what they did to your story and how they used your name. I didn’t like the book and I was entitled to my opinion as a reviewer.

When I called you, I did in fact introduce myself.

I told you I was from City Press and I was reviewing the book. I feel I was upfront and clear, and I completely sympathised with your position.

I believed that what you told me was truthful and honest, and a reaction that people needed to be aware of.

Since what you were saying merely reinforced the conclusions I’d already come to on my own, I decided to use your comments to bolster my own opinion.

There’s also no distortion in the quotes. They are verbatim the words you used.

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