Photo: Anele Tosho

Walbrugh Woos Readers with Writing Prowess

By Skyler Hendricks

Lester Walbrugh, an acclaimed author from Grabouw, and a Matie alumnus has just released his first collection of short stories titled Let It Fall Where It Will. The collection was officially published on 2 November 2020. 

Let It Fall Where It Will is compiled of 15 stories set across the Western Cape and Japan. These short stories flawlessly illustrate the versatility of the author with narratives ranging from pre-1994 South Africa to discovering one’s identity in any sphere. This collection has received praise from renowned South African-Scottish author Zoë Wicomb, describing the collection as “A thrilling debut… gritty and intimate. Walbrugh’s prose, whether in the Cape vernacular or standard, illuminates a diverse world with subtlety and wit.” 

Walbrugh began his studies at Stellenbosch University in 1992 with BSc (Human Life Sciences) and after graduating travelled to the United Kingdom where he lived for two years. It was during his time abroad that he realised a career in science was not for him. “I didn’t want to go and work in a lab or do scientific research for the rest of my life. I didn’t really think it through, I think,” he says. 

Hereafter, he decided to do a course in linguistics and moved to Japan where he taught English to Japanese students for about 10 years. According to Walbrugh, spending this time abroad and having the opportunity to interact with different cultures and experiencing new things has helped him discover and shape his path. “Even studying science and developing this analytical aspect to my personality has in some shape or form changed the way I interpret things,” he says. Without realising it at the time, all of these experiences are somehow relayed in his work. 

Walbrugh began writing only five years ago after receiving positive responses to a review he left on a website of a hotel he visited in New York. He wrote an entire essay describing his experiences at the hotel and was pleasantly surprised by the feedback he received. He says, “It’s a thrill to write something down, to work on it, then have people understand it and create a sort of communication.” 

After this, he considered the possibility of writing something fictional. This led to the release of multiple poems and short stories have been chosen for inclusion in anthologies such as the Short Story Day Africa’s ID and Hotel Africa. Walbrugh’s work received attention and recently caught the eye of Karavan Press, who approached him about compiling his new collection of short stories, Let It Fall Where It Will. In South Africa’s current socio-political climate, Walbrugh offers a fresh perspective on relative themes such as race and sexuality. Many of the stories in the collection have been previously published, however, there are six new stories in the collection which have been written specifically for the book. 

Walbrugh is currently working on his first novel which he says has been under wraps for a few years now. After the release of this collection, however, this author is ready to make his novel-debut. Let It Fall Where It Will is currently available in bookstores nationwide and available for purchase online. A book launch will take place on 21 November 2020 at Elgin Ridge Wine Estate to promote this collection. More information about the book, and the author, can be found on the Instagram page of both Karavan Press (@karavanpress) and Lester Walbrugh (@kreefkerrie).

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