Newlands couple’s story is best at arts fest

Greg Friend and Lisa Lazarus.

Greg Lazarus, the husband-and-wife writing duo of Greg Fried and Lisa Lazarus, has been announced in Grahamstown as the winners of the National Arts Festival Award for the Judges’ Choice of Best Story in the annual anthology of stories chosen for the Short.Sharp.Stories Awards.

This year’s theme, Die Laughing, drew many entries, 20 of which were chosen for the collection, which will be launched in Cape Town and Johannesburg. This Could Get Messy, the winning story by Greg, was described by the judges, Karabo Kgoleng, Karina Szczurek and Ken Barris, as “a simply wonderful story about love… funny, with its twists and turns, chuckles and sadness”.

According to Newlands residents Lisa and Greg, “Our story is about Ilhaam, a passionate and brilliant schoolgirl who has an extensive knowledge of the Qur’an and a confidential problem involving love, and Gary, a pompous philosopher of mathematics and a man with his own secrets, whom she contacts.”

Greg lectures in philosophy at UCT and teaches creative writing to postgraduates at the university’s Centre for Film and Media Studies. Lisa is a writer and writing teacher, educated as a psychologist. The pair have co-written a memoir of parenting, The Book of Jacob (2009), and – as Greg Lazarus – the novels When in Broad Daylight I Open My Eyes (2012) and Paradise (2014), as well as several short stories selected for anthologies.

The couple is currently at work on their fourth book, featuring an eerie philosophical institute and a man convicted of murder. His only defence: a dead woman made him do it.

“We hope readers will be intrigued,” Greg says. “At least it’s absorbing us, and that’s the only guide we have.”