Highly acclaimed novels to be made into films

2015-06-11 06:01

DURBAN-BASED author Carol Campbell’s highly acclaimed novels, Karretjiemense and ’n Huis vir Ester, are to be made into films.

The books, which are available in English as My Children Have Faces and Esther’s House, respectively, have been optioned by well-known South African filmmaker Koos Roets, in a co-production arrangement with actor and director André Stolz.

Roets, the director of the Afrikaans classic Koöperasiestories, and Stolz (known for his roles in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and Stander) intend to shoot the films back to back.

Roets will direct ’n Huis vir Ester and act as director of photography on Karretjiemense. Stolz will in turn direct Karretjiemense and act as production manager on ’n Huis vir Ester.

Both directors will be adapting the novels for the big screen themselves.

Campbell rose to prominence thanks to her best-selling debut novel My Children Have Faces (Karretjiemense), a novel about the nomadic donkey-cart people of the Karoo.

She is known for crafting moving stories that are simultaneously poignant and hopeful.

Campbell is a journalist who has worked for the Argus, the Cape Times and the Mercury. She currently works as news editor for the Daily News in Durban, where she lives with her family.

In her reviews of Campbell’s books, former Witness Books Editor Margaret von Klemperer, said the author is “a brave writer”, who tackles “subjects that, sadly, many South African readers shy away from”.

She added: “She manages to tell gripping, moving stories and create characters we can care about and root for as they negotiate their way through hardship, uncaring bureaucracy and extreme poverty.”

In Esther’s House the central figure is Esther Gelderblom, who lives in a shack outside Oudtshoorn. She has been on the waiting list for a house for 20 years, but never seems to get nearer the top, even though houses are being built. When her friend Katjie’s shack burns down, the two women decide that enough is enough: being law-abiding is getting them nowhere and so they will “occupy”.

My Children Have Faces tells the story of the karretjiemense of the Karoo, in particular a woman called Muis, who has been on the run for 15 years, ever since her rape and the killing of the man she loved, and whose child she was carrying.

His brother, Miskiet, was the rapist and killer, and he is waiting for another chance to deal with Muis.

She, with her three children and her current man Kapok, have wandered the roads of the Great Karoo ever since the incident, avoiding Leeu Gamka, where Miskiet lives, working sporadically on farms, living hand-to-mouth and travelling in their donkey cart.

Eventually drought and hard times drive the family back to Leeu Gamka, and to disaster.

— Books Editor

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