Local is lekker!

Lekker (Afrikaans). Good, enjoyable.

[At least in the context I’m using it. “Lekker” can mean a whole lot of things, most colourfully detailed in the Urban Dictionary! See here for all their definitions.]

For years I’ve been a fan of crime fiction. I’ve read crime fiction from all over the world. Well, at least the United States/Canada, England and the Scandinavian countries.  I particularly like Scandinavian crime fiction – especially the authors Henning Mankell and Arnaldur Indriðason. I got to the point when I was convinced I must have some Viking blood running in me, because I identified so closely with the atmosphere  these authors created in their books! In all my years of being South African – since my birth, basically 🙂 – the one thing I didn’t do was read South African crime fiction. Partly because I use books to escape from my familiar surroundings; partly because I never thought the South African crime authors could match those from “overseas”. A lot of South Africans suffer from this affliction – believing that foreign things just must be better.

Author Deon Meyer (Image: Wikipedia)

Then I spoke to Estie (my sister-in-law) and asked her in passing what she thought of Deon Meyer’s (a South African author) books. Since Estie’s home language is Afrikaans (Meyer writes in Afrikaans) and she’s also a crime fiction reader, I thought she may have come across him. She was very enthusiastic about his books, immediately rattling off what she considered his best titles. She said she thought I would like him too, because his books are set mainly in Cape Town (where I spent most of my childhood and 20s). That I would find the descriptions of all the places I knew well interesting.

So I went to the library and took out a Deon Meyer book. Although I’m reading his books in English. I can speak and read Afrikaans, but in my current “condition” and with my poor concentration levels, it would take me too long to finish a book in the original Afrikaans.  Turns out Estie was right! He is good. The plots (which interweave South African historical events) are interesting, the character development is good (his “heroes” are ordinary, flawed people), and it’s fun reading about places I know and having them described much better than I can.

What’s even more exciting is that in all the years I’ve been ignoring him, Deon Meyer has written 10 books (which have been translated into 20 languages and won him some international literary awards!). So I don’t have to wait for him to publish again to enjoy another of his books.

Why has it taken me so long to discover that “local is lekker”?!

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Categories: Books/Book Reviews, Random

Author:lisa@notesfromafrica

I live on the Southern coast of South Africa, and write about the things that interest, amuse or inspire me. You can find me at https://notesfromafrica.wordpress.com and http://southerncape.wordpress.com (my photoblog)

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25 Comments on “Local is lekker!”

  1. February 9, 2011 at 5:58 am #

    I have to get to the library and see if I can find a book on one of these authors.

    I also tend to compare South African book/movies to the International ones – especially when it’s obvious attempts from our authors/script writers to “fit in” (for lack of a better phrase). I love it when our writers produce original works.

    • February 9, 2011 at 10:20 am #

      If you mean the Scandinavian authors, I’d start with Henning Mankell. Can email you some titles you should start with.

      I’ve read other South African authors (non-crime novels), but always assumed that the SA crime novels would not be of the same standard.

  2. February 9, 2011 at 10:02 am #

    Considering also your fascination for colder climates…maybe you do indeed have some Scandinavian blood!

    I’m glad you found a local author whose work looks promising! I’ve read a lot of biographies of African people, and every now and then I’ll run into some excerpts written in Afrikaans (which I can’t read). Do most South Africans grow up speaking both Afrikaans and English?

    • February 9, 2011 at 10:16 am #

      When I was at school, I had English as a first language and Afrikaans as a second language. And then there were other languages on offer like French or Latin (really useful! I actually did Latin for a while . . .). People in Afrikaans schools obviously had Afrikaans as a first language. Nowadays, they’re teaching some of the local African languages – Xhosa, Sotho, Zulu etc – as second/third languages which makes far more sense to me.

      Languages taught at school used to be a huge area of conflict. You might have heard of the 1976 Soweto uprising which was largely about the fact that Black students were forced to use Afrikaans and English as instructional languages. Despite that a lot of South Africans do still speak English and Afrikaans, as well as their own home language. The common business language here is English.

      That’s probably more than you wanted to know!!!

      You should try using Google Translate – see they have Afrikaans as one of their languages now.

      • February 10, 2011 at 9:19 am #

        I think that’s all very interesting! I love this kind of information – especially about those countries I plan on travelling to. I may have to commit to memory a few vital phrases in Afrikaans just in case. 🙂

      • February 10, 2011 at 11:26 am #

        I think you’ll do fine just knowing English. Unless of course you find yourself in some rural backwater where they don’t understand your American accent! 😉

  3. Estie
    February 9, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    Hi

    I am so glad you enjoyed the books. He is well worth reading.

    • February 9, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

      I am glad that you recommended him! I should ask for your advice more often! 😉

  4. February 9, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

    I love discovering local talent, and reading books that are set in familiar places. Thanks for the heads up!
    Sorry for not supplying a definition of “lekker” for you – I couldn’t think on my feet. You’ve defined it perfectly yourself!
    Sunshine xx

    • February 9, 2011 at 5:09 pm #

      Yes, I was very disappointed that you didn’t have a nifty definition available . . . Can’t believe you’ve missed that one in your many posts on language! I think you should still include it in a future South African-isms post. And maybe also the word “Ja-nee”.

      • February 10, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

        Duly noted, Lisa! I’ll include them in a future list. I guess I have to, now! 🙂

  5. February 9, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    Quick note–
    I left something special for you over at my blog today.
    http://www.reinventingtheeventhorizon.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/awards-ceremony-101/
    Hope you don’t mind, Lisa!

  6. February 9, 2011 at 10:19 pm #

    How interesting! I love that kind of books, I´ll try to find some here!

    • February 10, 2011 at 11:33 am #

      I hope you enjoy them too!

      I’ve always wanted to ask: you’re living in Argentina, right? Is that where you originally come from? What is your home language? If you want to answer me privately, go to the “Email me” page in my menu.

  7. February 10, 2011 at 9:58 am #

    A friend of mine from the States just told me about this writer — she is reading him (in English) and loving it.

    I love the saying, “Local is Lekker.” I recently saw a sign saying that in a home industry store in Melville. I’m planning a blog post about it!

    • February 10, 2011 at 11:30 am #

      It would have been REALLY humiliating if Deon Meyer had been recommended to me by a non-South African!!! 🙂

      Yes, “Local is lekker” is a catchy saying, isn’t it? You’ve probably realised by now that us English-speaking South Africans have adopted some of the more colourful Afrikaans words into our vocabulary.

  8. February 10, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

    I can’t wait to check outnDeon Meyer. I wonder if his book are available on Kindle. I love to find an author who has lots for me to enjoy immediately–no waiting around. Perhaps that’s also the appeal of a blog–on-going availability! Thanks for this name! I will definitely take a look!

    • February 11, 2011 at 7:17 am #

      Yes, Deon Meyer’s books are available on Kindle from Amazon. The two I have read are “Devil’s Peak” and “Dead at Daybreak”. Estie tells me that “Thirteen hours” is one of her favourites. Not sure if you have to read them in the order they were published – although there are recurring characters, the main character differs from book to book.

  9. November 18, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    Lekker is used vaguely as cool or awesome in ‘slang’ terms. Never kick-ass
    Original meaning is: Tasty, enjoyable or as a noun: sweet (sweets and chocolates)
    So Local is Lekker will be Local is Great

    • November 18, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

      Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment! 🙂

      Today “lekker” is used a lot in slang terms – especially by English speaking South Africans (like me!) who simply do not have such a descriptive word in their own language.

      • November 18, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

        There are a few ‘lekker’ afrikaans words.Such as : ‘Ja-nee’, ‘moersleutel’ for spanner and so on and so forth. I leave this few here for ‘die wis en die onwis’ (maybe you know and maybe you don’t know)

      • November 18, 2012 at 4:33 pm #

        Yes, there are just so many interesting Afrikaans words. I think that is why Afrikaans short-stories are so good – you can say a lot in a few words.

      • November 18, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

        Last word. English is a language of the brain and Afrikaans is a language of the gut. So sad one cannot understand the humour of other languages such as Mandarin, Finnish, Icelandic, to name a few. If you could , you would be happy all day long and your heart would be as wide as Texas or should I say The Karoo !

      • November 19, 2012 at 5:52 am #

        Well put! Thanks for your comments – I’ve enjoyed reading them.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Handmade on Melville’s Main Road | 2Summers - March 24, 2011

    […] “LEH-cker,” is my favorite Afrikaans word. It means cool, awesome, or kick-ass. (Read a post by Lisa at Notes From Africa about the phrase “Local is Lekker.”) I’m not sure I believe diabetic apricot jam […]

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