Christine Otten is the perfect sort of author for Booktunes. She comes from a family of acrobats, wrestlers, actors and musicians, so it was only natural that she'd grow to be a woman with a huge talent for writing. She is also, of course, an accomplished singer who can be regularly be found onstage and toured South Africa with her mix of poetry and prose.
So it's more than natural for a lot of her stories to feature music. Her partly autobiographical debut novel, Blauw Metaal (Blue Metal), charmingly portrays the introduction of music into her early life, via the influence of her musical older brother.
That this, or any passion, can become an obsession, becomes clear in Lente van Glas (Spring of Glass), while the theme of the quest for an identity is deepened in Engel en andere muziekverhalen (Angel and other Musical Stories). De Laatste Dichters (The Last Poets), based on the lives of The Last Poets (the legendary African-American civil rights activists) explores her fascination for expression through music, and the shortcomings of the conventional language of feelings, to convey these emotions. Unfortunately this novel has yet to be translated into English, so we regret that the majority of Booktunes' readers will have to be inspired with the soundtrack to this book, rather than Otten's words themselves. Which for this particular authors feels almost appropriate.
Otten's most recent novel, In Wonderland, is based on some terrifying experiences she suffered in the 1980s. Suspected, together with her husband, of terrorist activities, she was investigated for months and endured a horrible ordeal without an idea as to the motive or what would happen to her. This is the remarkable backdrop to the novel; a novel in which Otten shows that fiction is, for her, the way to explore and makes sense of the bizarre circumstances that life throws her way.
In her Booktunes interview, she reveals that the subject of her forthcoming book will return to her musical roots. Not that she ever really left them behind, given the effortlessly musical nature of her prose.
text by E. de Loor / transl. by W. Georgi / drawing by Ytje