Just after we started the blog in April of 2017, I received a book in the mail. It had a beautiful green cover with yellow writing called Hum if you Don’t Know the Words written by Bianca Marais. I read the book in two days- I absolutely adored it and could not put it down. And then, because she was visiting me at the time, I let my mother read the book as well. My love of reading comes from my mother who is always a much harsher critic than me. She could not say enough great things about the book. Somehow, my love of this book turned into a wonderful friendship with the author.
This July 16th, Bianca’s sophomore book, If You Want to Make God Laugh, will be released. It is a truly spectacular follow-up to Bianca Marais’s first novel, Hum If You Don’t Know the Words. Her emotional depiction of South Africa during the late ‘90s results in a stunning novel with depth. She covers racism, homophobia, the AIDS epidemic, and corruption in the church, with eye-opening frankness and heart. Her characters take root in your mind from the first page. I found myself laughing, cheering, and crying along with their story. Yet somehow, through the many difficult topics, Marais manages to weave a story filled with love and hope.
The writing is prosaic. I found myself re-reading certain lines to chew on the kernels of truth so eloquently written. Every word, every sentence, has meaning to the story. I can’t say I’m surprised that Marais wrote such a stunning novel. I look forward to reading whatever she writes in the future.
AND Bianca will be coming to the Philadelphia area on July 22nd to talk about it!!!! We are so excited to meet with Bianca at Main Point Books in Wayne. If you are local or not so local, please join us! You can RSVP for the event Here. Normally we feature a book lover who is local but, since Bianca is coming to visit, we thought we could make an exception. Bianca also lives in my hometown of Toronto, Canada which makes her local when I visit my parents. Okay, I know it’s a stretch but, any excuse we have to ask her some questions is a good enough reason.
Name: Bianca Marais
Birthplace: Johannesburg, South Africa
Current Hometown: Toronto
How long have you lived in Canada? 7 years
How did your birthplace inspire your novels? Both of my novels are based in South Africa and are about issues that shaped me, either as I was growing up, or once I was an adult. Writing about them help me put them into perspective and make sense of it all – it’s a kind of therapy. The irony was I could only write about South Africa once I left it.
How much of your characters is fiction and how much is based on someone you know? Real people often inspire my characters but it’s either just physical traits or personality quirks. Most times, my characters are composites of various people with a lot of fictionalized bits thrown in for good measure.
Do you see yourself in any of your characters? I see a bit of me in all of my characters – something parts of me that I like but often the ones that I don’t.
Was there a difference in your writing process with your second book? Yes! I didn’t have a deadline with my first book whereas I pretty much had six months to write the first draft of my second book and I so had to be a lot more disciplined with it. I thought I’d be better at it the second time around but starting each novel feels like learning how to write all over again.
What is the last book you read? The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer
What are some of your favorite reads? Three Junes by Julia Glass, Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong, The Hearts Invisible Furies by John Boyne, Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan
What was your favorite High School read? The Great Gatsby
How many books do you read each month? It depends on how well the writing is going. LOL. I can read anywhere between 5-20 books in a month.
What is your ideal Sunday Funday? Sleeping in late (which never happens because my golden retriever, Muggle, has a built-in 5 am alarm), brunch with friends on a patio, and doing some writing and reading. Sailing around the Toronto harbor all day would be pretty awesome too!
Name 5 things you can’t live without. Books (to read), notebooks (to write in), mimosas, buttered toast, earplugs
Who is your literary inspiration? JK Rowling
Last but not least and most importantly: Coffee or Tea? Coffee