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Mia Arderne Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Mermaid Fillet (2020)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Mia Arderne is twenty four year old author of nonfiction and fiction that is best known for her debut novel “Mermaid Fillet.” The South African author has bylines in the likes of “City Press,” “New Frame,” “GQ Japan,” “Cosmopolitan,” “Marie Claire,” and the “Mail & Guardian” among many others. Her work is an exploration of the politics of mental health, gender, sexuality, race, and identity among many other themes. For her fiction work, Arderne loves to interface her subject matter in the criminal and urbane. Mia is currently working on her master’s degree at the University of Cape Town, where she studying English Creative Writing. She made her debut with the Kwela (NB) published novel “Mermaid Fillet” in 2020. She also has academic qualifications in Philosophy and has written for the first Science Fiction anthology written by writers based in Africa titled “AfroSF” that was compiled and edited by Ivor Hartmann and published in 2013.

Arderne’s love affair with storytelling began when she was in high school. She particularly loved “Duiwelskloof” and anything by Andre Brink. She was fascinated by the magical realism of the novel and the beautiful writing and this was among the first really long novels that she was hooked into. The novel is a huge inspiration and had a huge impact on her even then as it got her reading and interested in the art of telling stories. Mia was also influenced by the Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino films even if these were largely violent and male influences. She has said that this is the kind of writing that appealed to her since it was what marked her adolescent years. Much of what she read during this period shines through her debut which has a lot of toxic masculinity and is exceptionally violent. She has always been drawn to magical realism and this has also combined with her love for abstract painting. While Mia cannot pinpoint the exact date she got into it, some of the passages are as old as her childhood. As a child, Mia wrote a few paragraphs inspired by her reading and some of these she has edited and reworked over the years and incorporated into her writings. As an adult she wrote a lot of nonfiction and thought she was done with writing only for her publisher to approach her and ask if she would be interested in writing fiction.

Arderne was pleasantly surprised when her publisher approached her asking her to write a novel. It was like a dream come true since she had stopped writing and was not even thinking about it anymore. She had been trying to write for sometime but had been rejected before and hence it was a complete shock being asked to write a fiction novel. The shock soon wore of and she was thrilled at the opportunity. Much of what she wrote in her first novel was about who she is including her struggles with mental illness. Some of the characters have also been influenced by her family members. These are people that she has Sunday lunches with and so she had all the time to learn their mannerisms and distill them in her stories. She was also inspired by seeing unknown writers from Kenya and Nigeria come from nowhere and make a name for themselves in no time. Once she set her heart to writing, Kwela Fiction got her an editor and she was off to the races. It was not easy but she was determined to make it. After a ton of editing and rewriting she finally published her debut work “Mermaid Filler” in 2020.

Mia Arderne’s novel “Mermaid Filler” is an interesting novel set in the underground of Cape Town. It is a setting where murder, racketeering and smuggling are part of everyday life. The violence transcends the boundaries of the physical as it can also be sexual and psychological. The residents of the city also have to deal with corruption and distortion. In the underbelly, anything that can be stolen or sold can be had and there is an abundance of diamonds, drugs and souls that exchange hands for money and other favors. Underneath the marauding and mayhem, there are people that seem despicable, vile and deserving of every bad thing that comes to them. But dig deep beneath the layers and you find narratives of sexual violence and introduction to gangster life to children that were barely out of their diapers. The children of the community are exposed to substance abuse, violent sex, addiction to drugs yet are as hopeless and helpless as ever. For many, suicide seems like a means to escape the terrible life given that the society and even their family will not believe that they have undergone sexual violence and other trauma that has deeply impacted them at the psychological level. Dealing with gang related murder and being orphaned is the plight of the lead of the story and this informs much of his decisions.

“Pigs in Golfs” by Mia Arderne is on the one hand a love story about a wife and husband. It provides insights into their life including how happy, satisfied, driven, sensual and unafraid they are of their appetites. But the wife has a secret she is keeping from her husband. Even as he indulges in a dangerous pastime, dodges the law and even death she is trying to find proof of his wrong doing. Another thread tells the story of a deranged killer, a homicidal maniac with twisted appetites whose worldview is even more bizarre. He is so twisted that he could just be an animal even though the author skillfully manages to write a character that straddles the line between madman and monster. There are chaotic and hair raising scenes that will make one grimace and flinch. However they are thrilling stories that will have you not wanting to put down your book until the last page. While it may seem counter intuitive, it is when the three persons get on a collision course that the story becomes very interesting. It is like waiting by the road side and witnessing an accident unfold on the road in slow motion. It is shocking and visceral and leaves the reader stunned and silent even as it provides a kick at the end for good measure.

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