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Kathryn White

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Food, Writing & The Year of the Rabbit

Anyone who has seen me in a vest or sleeveless dress will know that I have a rabbit on my righthand shoulder. I have this rabbit for many reasons (none of which were decided when I tattooed my body) but for now this rabbit represents 2011.

After taking some time last year to fulfill an idea that I had had since the wee age of 25 – a non-permanent restaurant – and a few years sitting behind a computer editing my second novel I do declare that I am back to words, to writing – ready, older, wiser and more content than I have been in years.

The food side of things took place as The Mess, a pop-up restaurant with friend Jono Cane. The restaurant popped up (obviously) in different parts of Joburg’s city (un-obviously) and required much manual labour and resulted in a lot of interesting insights into the nature of food, the nature of serving food, the wonderful thing that always, always happens when people break bread (and drink wine) together.

The experience was incredible and very dynamic. Everytime I thought I had a handle on what was going on, the feeling mutated. Overall, I was reminded that Joburg is made up of the most incredible people, that we truly are the best city in the world. It was something I had wanted to do for so very long and it wouldn’t have been possible without my friend Jono – who is an incredible cook and will continue to make food for people – but for for now, Mess is not popping up – I need to do final edits on my book and have another little project that I am excited to actualise.

The editing side was for my second novel Things I Thought I Knew. I was super pissed off with myself that it took so long, but I have realised something rather lovely.

The story centres around a girl who is psychic – she knows everything, she knows what will happen in her life, who she will marry, when she will die.

The problem is that Lily goes mad, has a good n proper nervous breakdown and can no longer trust what she considered to be her guiding reasons, her convictions, her Self.

Throughout this experience – the book spans thirty years – she has two men in her life, lovely jockish Garth and moody aquiline Adam. When she starts recovering she has to figure out whether she still knows the things she thought she knew.

My point in writing this text was that we don’t know anything. In real life I had turned 27 and my entire world imploded. Everything I had assumed was utter bollocks. Such was the nihilism that I experienced, I had decided that I had fabricated a reality, a beautiful life that may never have existed.

And herein lies the beauty. The text was supposed to iterate the above point – we don’t know a single thing. But because it took me so long to write I remembered something – I had my very own anamnesis. We do know things. There are some irrefutable occurrences that your actual being, your gut, your whatever you want to call it, truly utterly and deeply knows will or will not happen. That you are totally and utterly right about. All you have to do is close your eyes and really, really ask.

I am not sure what Things I Thought I Knew is going to feel like to a reading public. I also don’t know how I will feel about it in the next year and the one after that. All I know is that I am glad to have had this experience – to have entered a text mad and confused and come out of it with a sense of faith, a feeling that we are never entirely lost, we are never entirely alone, that our very –ness will always be there.

Things I Thought I Knew
will be out in October, published by my wonderful publishers Random House Umuzi (with much love to Frederik and Fourie).

Laters, K


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Helen</a>
    February 21st, 2011 @15:38 #

    Oh Kitty! This is cheering news. Congratulations.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Fiona</a>
    February 21st, 2011 @17:15 #

    Looking forward to it!

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">tiah</a>
    February 22nd, 2011 @06:28 #



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