About the Book
This book, The Park and Other Stories, is an invaluable gift from Uncle James Matthews to the Jozi Book Fair and the youth of South Africa, in celebration of his 90th birthday. Although this collection is written more than 45 years ago, it is a timeless collection of short stories about working people and the struggle to be human. The stories are diverse, filled with humour, are about people of all ages, and like in real life they often do not end happily. One of the stories, ‘The Park’ which gives its name to this short story collection, is about a young black boy who yearns to play on the swings but is forbidden by the park attendant, a black man, because it is a ‘white only’ park.
The Park was first published in 1974 by his own publishing house, Black Arts and Culture (BLAC), the first of its kind, to grow the seeds of resistance. This was a new phase in the liberation movement, rising against the repression, imprisonment and bannings of the 1960s. The Park and Other Stories will be enjoyed by everyone and is indicative of a dissident writer who after 45 years of writing has run the gauntlet, fearless of the consequences.
About the Author
James Matthews, poet, writer and publisher, has produced five books of poetry, a collection of short stories, a novel and an anthology of poetry, which he edited. Most of his work was banned under the previous government and was translated and published overseas. For 13 years he was denied a passport and was placed in detention from September to December 1976. James Matthews waged a struggle against this agenda with the one weapon the jailers couldn’t take away from him – his ability to turn words into poems.
In 1980 Matthews participated in the Frankfurt Book Fair, and in 1982 he participated in the Cultural and Resistance Conference in Gaborone. He was awarded a Fellowship at Iowa University, U.S.A., was the founding member of the Vakalisa Art Association and founding member and Patron of the Congress of South African Writers. James Matthews is the first black person to have established a publishing house (BLAC Publishing House 1974 -1991). The publishing house closed in 1991 due to constant harassment by the apartheid government.
Matthews is the recipient of numerous local and international awards, including the Woza Afrika Award (1978), Kwaza Honours List – Black Arts Celebration, Chicago, U.S.A.(1979) and the Freeman of Lehrte and Nienburg, Germany (1982) and recently the National Order of Ikhamanga and Honorary Doctorates from the Universities of the Western Cape and the University (Currently Known as) Rhodes.