“When I was six, my parents took me to Europe. I’ve never recovered from the thrill of that journey. It’s the reason I can’t ever sit still and have pursued a life of travel writing.”
I first met Justin as ‘The Neighbour.’
A friend of mine moved into a beautiful apartment with expansive views of the Atlantic Ocean and a neighbour with impeccable credentials.
These included a doctorate in English from Oxford University and a former editorship of Getaway International magazine. Justin’s articles and photographs have appeared in international publications on a wide range of topics, while his short stories and poems have appeared in various anthologies. He has written scripts and directed award-winning documentaries and is a two-time Mondi journalism award winner. So far, so impressive.
However, and far more importantly, Justin is a clever, funny, talented, creative man and a great guy to have coffee with, bump into at pretentious art gallery openings and take bracing, wintery walks along the promenade.
What are you working on right now?
I’m busy finishing a book that is provisionally entitled ‘The Snow Lion: In Search of the Impossible Five’. It’s a travelogue cum natural history book in which I journey around South Africa trying to find the five most elusive animals. I’ve tried to make it humorous and entertaining, while still conveying some serious messages about conservation and our natural heritage.
Which writers and photographers inspire you?
There are a whole host of travel writers whose work I love, especially Jonathan Raban, Bruce Chatwin, Colin Thubron and the hauntingly beautiful memoir/travelogues of WG Sebald. In the realm of photography, David Goldblatt remains the master in South Africa and his images are a huge inspiration.
Has there been a defining moment or turning point when you realised what you wanted to do?
No, not really. And I’m still not sure I know what I want to do. I’ve never fully committed to any one career and keep hoping that one day a lightning bolt of certainty will remove the doubt. In the meantime I write novels and travel books, do photography, journalism, part-time teaching at UCT, art dealing and a helluva lot of surfing.
What are you reading at the moment?
The biography of Uys Krige, called ‘Die Goue Seun’. There are wonderful chapters in the book about the young poet travelling through Europe in the 1930s. Krige was my uncle and I too travelled extensively through Europe straight after varsity. I have this idea of writing a book of poetry and anecdotes that somehow weaves the two journeys together. I doubt that I’ll find a publisher for such an esoteric book, but it is a fun project.
What was the best gift you’ve been given?
When I was 6, my parents took me to Europe. I’ve never recovered from the thrill of that journey. It’s the reason I can’t ever sit still and have pursued a life of travel writing.
What are your simplest daily pleasures?
Surfing in the winter months when icy Atlantic waves break below my apartment … and windsurfing up the West Coast in the summer months when the southeaster howls delightfully.
Which talent would you most like to have?
To write better.
What is your dream assignment?
I would like to take six months off and travel around the rim of the Mediterranean, preferably in a yacht.
Justin Fox is a travel writer, novelist and photographer based in Cape Town, South Africa.