Donnerstag, 20. September 2018


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Interview mit Jann Turner
Diesen Herbst erschien ihr neuer Roman „Unter dem Kreuz des Südens” bei BLT

Januar 1978: Dr. Rick Turner, Lehrer und bekannter Aktivist gegen die Apartheid, wird vor den Augen seiner 13-jährigen Tochter ermordet. Jahre später engagiert sich Jann Turner selbst in der von Nelson Mandela eingesetzten Wahrheitskommission.
Nach „Herzland” (1998) ist nun ein neuer Roman der Autorin Jann Turner „Unter dem Kreuz des Südens” (2oo6) auf dem deutschen Buchmarkt erhältlich. In beiden Romanen verarbeitet die Autorin auch ihre eigene Biografie.

„Das Literaturportal AfrikaRoman (LAR) fragte nach .. ”

LAR:   Your new novel „Southern Cross” was recently released in Germany. What is the plot in your new book?

Jann Turner: Southern Cross is a story of love and betrayal and discovery and hope renewed. It is set in South Africa in the first ten years after apartheid. Itís really the story of Anna and James who find one another in the tangle of lies uncovered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which Anna appears before in her quest to find the killer of her lover Paul and which James is covering as a journalist for a local newspaper. Itís a story that reflects the intensely private and personal ways in which a traumatic past can overwhelm and sabotage the present, but in a larger sense the story of Anna freeing herself from the painful past also reflects the way in which the Truth and Reconciliation Commission attempted to set a nation free of itís divided and violent history. Southern Cross is a story of heroís and traitors, a story of how ordinary lives are made in the midst of conflict and how sides are changed for the grandest as well as the most petty reasons. Southern Cross is also a story of journalists and their disfunctions and coping mechanisms around the often gruelling subject matter that is their bread and butter. And Southern Cross is also my love letter to Johannesburg, the vibrant, edgy, exciting, all-encompassing city in which Anna and James live.

LAR:    Souther Cross, german Paul, a Caucasian man is being murdered brutally in your book. Ten years later, Anna who was deeply in love with Paul takes the case to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Are you Anna? How much do you identify yourself with Annaís character?

Jann Turner: I identify most closely with James Kay. Like him I spent a lot of my teens in the UK and came back to South Africa with a profound sense of connection, but an uncertainty about my commitment to the country. Like him I was a journalist covering the TRC and like him I decided to stay and have made South Africa my home. I identify more with Annaís quest for the truth about what happened to Paul than I do with her character. The central drama of Southern Cross is that of Annaís need to know who killed her activist lover and why. My father was the activist Dr. Rick Turner who was assassinated at our home in Durban on January 8, 1978. The inquest into his death found that he was killed by ďperson or personís unknown.Ē His killer remained unknown until 1996 when the convening of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission gave us hope of uncovering the mystery of his death. I was working as a journalist covering the events of the Truth Commission for a programme called the Truth Commission Special Report. I also appeared before the commission, along with my mother, step-mother and sister, to ask them to investigate the murder. They did investigate, but came up with very little and so the killer remains unknown and I continue to live with the question Ė why? In writing Southern Cross I was exploring what it might be like to get to the truth at last and what knowing the answer to the question might feel like. In Annaís case Ė unlike my fatherís, but very much like a number of cases that did go before the Commission Ė thereís a nasty twist in the truth.

LAR:   How strongly is your writing influenced by your childhood memories and or adolescence experiences?

Jann Turner: Thereís no doubt that this book was closely influenced by my experience of growing up the daughter of an activist and of witnessing my fatherís assassination and then living through the TRC process. So there is a great deal of my own experience and feeling about my father and South Africa woven into this story. But my childhood was not all politics and pain, so my books and my writings donít always focus around these issues. I am deeply influenced by the love of books and reading that my father in particular gave me during my childhood. I think most writers start as readers and I loved and was surrounded by books from a very young age.

LAR:   Can you tell us how closely the story of the book is related to the true events in 1978 and the following years? In other words, how much of those terrible events you describe in the book are related to your own experiences?

Jann Turner: The plot of Southern Cross and the solving of the mystery of Paulís murder is not at all similar to my own story of the quest to find my fatherís killer. My father was an activist who was assassinated, but thatís about the only similarity. What I have drawn on closely is my experience of living in Johannesburg over the past ten years, a city I find vibrant and exciting and full of as much light as it is dark. Also my experience of covering the Truth Commission and the thousands of stories that I heard told there. And the character most closely drawn from life is that of Colonel Ig Du Preez, who is based on former Colonel Eugene De Kock, a man I met and spent a great deal of time with during the two years that I covered the Truth Commission. De Kock is currently serving 212 years plus several life sentences for murder in Pretoriaís C-Max prison. You can read my article on him on my website [+]

LAR   Why did you pick this title of the book? Is there a connection to the constellation?

Jann Turner: The Southern Cross constellation is the distinguishing feature of the Southern Sky and something I, like many South Africans I think, look at often. So I chose the title to locate the book in Southern Africa, because I like the echo of "double cross" and also because Paul refers to it as a reflection of the key characters in his life.

LAR   What was your responsibility description as a member of that commission?

Jann Turner: I was one of a team of television journalists who covered the Truth Commission for a weekly current affairs programme called The Truth Commission Special Report. Our programme ran for just over two years Ė most of the duration of the Commission itself. We travelled to hearings all over the country and brought back the stories of victims and perpetrators which were broadcast in our weekly round up of the events on the TRC.

LAR   Can you describe how you felt during the period of the commission?

Jann Turner: Mostly numb. It was hard to respond to the stories with feeling after a while, because they were so relentlessly terrible. I often felt angry. And by the end very tired. But mostly I felt energised by the feeling of being at a the centre of an important moment in South African history and excited and privileged by the opportunity to record the stories of so many people who lived through the terrible period called apartheid.

LAR   Was the commission able to reach its goals?

Jann Turner: I think that only time will tell us what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission achieved. It was such a huge and ambitious project, it was probably always unlikely to achieve itís goals Ė we did get a lot of truth, but certainly not enough and reconciling South Africans to our past and to one another is a continuing struggle. Nevertheless it was an extraordinary and admirable project to take part in and to witness.

LAR   Has South Africa truly overcome the apartheid?

Jann Turner: Absolutely not. We still have a long long way to go. The legacies of brutal inequality and racism are very much alive and well.

LAR   Which decade of your life do you find most pleasant (or memorable)?

Jann Turner: I loved the first ten years of my life and the third decade Ė my twenties - was also wonderful.

LAR   You wrote several scripts and produced many successful documentaries after you finished your schooling in NY. Do you prefer the writing part or the actual work on the set?

Jann Turner: I prefer writing novels to writing scripts and I prefer directing to writing for film and television! I always think of the script writing as the blue print for what and how I am going to direct the story, rather than an end in itself. When you hand over a script to another director you always feel like youíve done only half the job, whereas with a novel and when directing you are seeing the idea all the way through to the end. Iíve made a lot of television here in South Africa in the past three years and itís been exciting and rewarding, but I think Iím ready to move on to becoming a full time novelist now.

LAR   Which question would you like to know the answer to?

Jann Turner: Who killed my father?

Wir danken Jann Turner recht herzlich für die Beantwortung unserer Fragen!
Das Interview führte: Sven Rosenow

November 2oo6 | © Literaturportal AfrikaRoman - Afrikaromane im Netz

[-]   Interview in deutscher Übersetzung
[-]   Biografie Jann Turner
[-]   Buchliste Jann Turner


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