Marrying Black Girls For Guys Who Aren’t Black

My latest book, Marrying Black Girls For Guys Who Aren’t Black, on MFBooks, is in bookshops as you read this.

Veterans of HagensHouse will recognise the title as coming from the blog post of the same name, which is in fact the most popular one on this site. Hence the book, mos.

The book, being 60 times longer, is about a lot more than just marrying black girls. It took an unexpected swerve into race relations, philosophical musings on losing your phone, the art of haggling, ukuteketis’umtwana, stopping dopping, umsebenzi, women’s fannies and how to dance like the guy from Jamiroquai.

So there’s a fair bit in there. Basically I’d been married to my beautiful black wife for a couple of years before I realized I was still a racist! Marrying Black Girls For Guys Who Aren’t Black describes my journey from being the whitest person this side of a Smokie concert to being slightly blacker, if not visibly so.

It combines anecdotes, rhymes, essays and freestyle political discourse, and charts a personal route to an integrated society in Unit 1, Sandown Court, Johannesburg. As the newly disenfranchised minority in my lounge, I like to think I’ve gained a fresh insight into the struggles of the oppressed.

Living with a gorgeous, militant black woman has helped this armchair liberal understand cultural and economic reality and also realize that while I can appreciate the kwaito-house works of Oskido and the later releases of Letta Mbulu, I will never enjoy Basketball Wives, Kenny Lattimore, or boiled tripe. The jury’s still out on umleqwa too.

Once you make your peace with skin colour, does race even exist? Or is culture what distinguishes us? What happens when a surfer/bungee-jumper/rock ‘n’ roll goofball hooks up with a black-diamond struggle veteran and shoe fetishist? For one thing, the Fanon, the Biko and the best of Nana Coyote DVDs must find space on the bookshelf next to Spud, Koos Kombuis, Learn Xhosa and The Bob Marley Songbook. But so too, must certain attitudes be set aside to accommodate new perspectives.

It’s hard to be a neoliberal hardliner when your partner’s real-life experience undermines all your prejudices. It’s cultural exchange over the TV remote; race relations in the contested space between the sink, the toaster and the microwave, as yet another mixed marriage cocks up the race debate.

So look out for this cover of distinctive awesomery, designed with skill and insight by  publicide.  It’s available right now.

Marrying cover

Buy Marrying Black Girls For Guys Who Aren’t Black!

Stuff (South African) White People Like

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This is the local adaptation of the world famous blogging and booking franchise, Stuff White People Like by Christian Lander.

Stuff White People Like began life as a blog by Christian, and his friend Myles Valentin here. That thing shot the lights out. Apparently they cracked 40 million views within about 6 months of its launch in 2008. Impressive, no? Yes. He’s sitting at 99 million at the moment!

So then enterprising big-time publisher Random House approached Mr Lander and the blog was adapted into a book. In the trade that is known as a “blook”, but we try not to use that too often.

I believe there have been adaptations published in other leading white-people territories like Australia, the UK and New Zealand. Thus it became the turn of Jonathan Ball Publishers South Africa to publish one. Your loyal typist was the white person chosen to do this one.

The approach adopted by the original SWPL is to satirise the bohemian/hipster culture of North America. While SA is also blessed with this strain of bearded, fixie-riding white person, it is not the dominant culture. We also do a good line in unpretentious, working-class, salt-of-the-earth, slop-wearing, rugby supporting white people. So we incorporated that type of white person into the SA version and satirised the hell out of them too.

Stuff (South African) White People Like is available in leading SA bookshops now! Sommer nou-nou. And online at Exclus1ves.co.za If you’re still interested, the blurb is below…

BLURB

You’ll find them sipping an espresso with the Sunday Times open at Zapiro, a Tashas Panini en route and a MacBook Pro streaming a Foals album on the wi-fi. Or rocking a Bok jersey, shorts and slops, braaiing out of the back of a Hilux in the Loftus car park.

They are all of these things and none of them. They are unique combinations of dozens of odd predilections. They are White People, and they are among us.

They are few, but they are powerful. Learn the ways of whiteness and they will buy you biltong, take you to the cricket, and help you download series that aren’t even showing here yet!

Stuff White People Like is your guide to white people’s pantheon of greatness. Sandwiches! MMA! Threatening to emigrate! It’s all here! Helen Zille! Madiba! Rodriguez! No icon is forgotten!

Here’s a book that decodes, explains, and advises on finding social success with the Caucasian persuasion. It also allows experienced white people to brush up on their whiteness and smirk knowingly. So kick back on your L-shaped leather couch, crack a craft beer and lose yourself in this guide to the variable whiteness of being.

In The Maid’s Room

How to Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 3.55.50 PMbe white when you’re no longer centre of attention? When you no longer even matter? How to be white when everyone’s patience runs out?

These existential questions are addressed in Hagen Engler’s third novel, the satirical farce In The Maid’s Room. Other crucial learnings are how to buy weed, how to handle a “brown mouse” and how not to rhyme 16 bars about wanking.

Disco Dave is a South African hipster on the Port Elizabeth social scene, such as it is. His dreams of media moguldom evaporate before his eyes as the scene becomes blacker and his understanding of it more

Hard-up for bucks, he moves into the Maid’s Room on his property and rents out the main house. Sizwe arrives and swiftly sets about taking over Disco’s life. He impregnates his ex-girlfriend Jazz, founds a rival media company and slides into a job Disco had his eye on.

The blacks are taking over! Disco finds a black girlfriend, but even that doesn’t stop it. Desperate for relevance, he has to get famous somehow. But who even needs white celebs any more?

While his fellow non-blacks embrace wilful ignorance, hippy oblivion and gangsterism, Disco knows just enough to know he doesn’t know enough. As South Africa finally becomes a black country, he finds himself asking, what about me?

In The Maid’s Room is a scruffy, hilarious shambles of an episodic novel set in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth, that trendsetting bellwether of national change. It’s about the surfer, stoner culture of the Bay, but also the slow ignominious death of white entitlement. There’s also lank pomping.

When your prospects go to hell in a haversack, when you develop a sneaking suspicion you might be a racist… well, that sucks. You might as well smoke weed, shag half of PE and show your balls on TV.

Hagen Engler has, co-written, ghost-written and edited more than ten books. In The Maid’s Room is his third novel. He is the former editor of a doomed consumer magazine, a white guy from PE and no longer the big deal he used to be. So you see now.

Comrade Baby

The latest book of typings by PE’s greatest export after Graeme Pollock, Athol Fugard, John Kani, the Opel Corsa, Jeremy Maggs, the Shatterprufe windscreen, Siya Kolisi and the Finkelstiens. And after Danie Gerber if you count Despatch. And Evolver One. And Garth Wright if you count Uitenhage. And Derek Alberts. And Melissa from Idols.”It’s like Justice Malala being married to Joe Slovo, except one of us is a white liberal”

Marrying Black Girls for Guys who aren’t Black, The Colour of One, and other learnings on the path from white privilege to the Benoni taxi rank. Hagen Engler gains perspective on blackness, whiteness, drunkness, punkness, the Eastern Cape, Robot Guys and the resilience of his cushion-sized liver, as South Africa evolves from a gnomes’s lair to a proper country with equal rights and opportunities for all-time cock-ups, poetry, depravity and hedonistic benders like you’ve never seen.

A book of columns for Sunday Times, Mahala, Weekend Post, That’s How It Is and elsewhere, mixed in with poems, rhymes and lyrics brought on by Comrade Baby and the South African condition.

For a sample of what’s inside, check here and here, or even here.

The book is Hagen Engler’s sixth. It is, always an independent Pocket Assegai Publication and a document of a decade of South African-ness. It makes a sweet gift for any South Africans in touche with their own ridiculousness and who aren’t afraid of a little bit of swearing.

“A compelling pastiche of South African craziness that somehow, magically, passes as a survival guide to travel, multiracial dating and other South African adventures” – The Daily Maverick

“Hagen Engler is one of South Africa’s most under-recognised great writers. Obervant, witty, sacriligeous, and highly original… ” – True Love

Buy Comrade Baby!

Buttons For Gaia

As a chaperone in the Cape Town movie industry, Wax Wilson can organise you anything. But when the pagan high priestess he’s fallen for is abducted from a wedding at the Llandudno Lifesaving Club, things hit a wobbly. Then the German film crew he’s looking after demands mandrax and a part-time porn queen starts making googly eyes at him. Pretty soon he’s consorting with gangsters, getting stabbed one-time in the shoulder, and being kidnapped by a satanic sex cult Next thing, seven people are dead, and it looks like Wax killed them. As things get more and more hectic, Wax finds himself on a mission of dark vengeance in magical, mysterious Berlin…

“It’s hardcore, it’s heavy, and it’s also frikkin’ funny. And as much as you don’t want to sometimes, you just can’t stop turning the pages. Not for the faint-hearted.” – Zigzag

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Magnum Chic

“Was Magnum Chic truly the wave of the future? Would women find men wearing Millennium Moustaches irresistible? Are the tan safari suit and the nickname Higgy Baby due for a return to colloquial popularity? All of these questions had to be answered before I could truly make any sincere claim to fashion clairvoyance.”

Join a search for meaning in South African life as Hagen Engler grows a dodgy moustache, visits Springbok, imagines his lovers are cement mixers and eats chicken. Magnum Chic is an collection of columns and articles chronicling the surreal months straddling the millennium. Entire cities are offended, mountains are climbed, sex is had and what emerges is an album of hilarious prose snapshots – digestible chunks of South Africana.

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Water Features

“Large grey ’72 kombi, seven surfboards on the roof, demanding my presence inside it, hollering, “How much do the tangerines cost? Quanto custa istu tangerinas?” And its bearded driver decoding the subtext of “Let’s hit it, ek se,” while the chemist lady gives me the gaff on the Larium side-effects. “Some people  have very vivid dreams…”

So begins a twisted, water-fuelled surf trip through Mozambique, Elvis worship, rave culture, the Transkei and the politics of Glad Eye. We’re all 90% water, walking water features, which explains the popularity of everything from porn fetishes to Port Elizabeth’s Pipe parking lot. The gender sweat differential, though, continues to baffle.

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Life’s A Beach

“At home people are running around screaming in Peruvian with suitcases they haven’t closed properly, so there are clothes on the floor everywhere – like everyone’s in standard eight watching porn at some guy’s house and his mom’s just got home. Big trouble. I take the three essentials: surfboard, passport and sunglasses, and run up the nearest hill to watch the apocalypse…”

Hagen Engler shows off his PE-ness in all its surf-starved glory. Share the mild psychoses and minor outrages of a Friendly Citizen who’s survived tidal waves, twenty-firsts and Nude Girls gigs, and was once almost in an orange juice ad. Gasp! Marvel! Smirk! Chart a bizarre ocean fixation – from the Plettenberg Bay shallows to the North Shore of Hawaii, from the Rink Street Kwikspar to his ex-girlfriend’s house in Blairgowrie…

Essential reading for anyone who’s about to go to the bathroom.

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Greener Grass

“But that fateful morning, Joe never got to perform his forward-leaning roach flick, because Destiny had been out raving and she was walking home through Clampett Park. ‘Aah, please don’t put that out,’ she said. She was Layla, and she was the Rave Queen of PE.”

Hagen Engler’s first novel weaves together the lives of a group of goofballs into a hazy, impressionistic narrative as they search for life, love, a proper graft and a spot to stay in the New SA. They find that while the grass may be greener on the other side, it’s cheaper at home. 

“It’s a pleasure to read Engler’s first novel… he writes believable, funny dialogue. Particularly that of the slackers, ghoefballs and ravers who are just as blase and matter-of-fact about their drug use as real-life drug users are.” – Alyn Adams, FHM

Buy Greener Grass!