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The Sunday Independent’s Survey of SA Writers’ Top Books of 2009

Small Moving PartsWays of StayingExhibit AThe Book of the DeadTail of the Blue BirdThe Rowing LessonBodies PoliticThe Voluptuous Delights of Peanut Butter and JamSummertimeAn Elegy for EasterlyThe Strange Alchemy of Life and LawA Man Who is Not a ManHarare NorthThe Good DoctorThe Thirtieth Candle

Alert! As has become tradition this time of year, Maureen Isaacson has solicited the opinions of a number of prominent writers – many of whom review for her excellent books page – on 2009′s top books. Michiel Heyns, Karina Brink, André Brink, Imraan Coovadia, Chris Dunton, Leon de Kock, Nadine Gordimer, Zakes Mda, Petina Gappah and Thando Mgqolozana weigh in; congratulations to BOOK SA members Kevin Bloom, Sarah Lotz, Kgebetli Moele, Anne Landsman, Lauren Liebenberg, Angela Makholwa, Margie Orford and Gappah, Heyns, Mda and Mgqolozana themselves for making the lists, which mix local and international reads.

Mgqolozana deserves special mention, as he is the only SA author to appear twice, featuring on the lists of major literary personages Nadine Gordimer and Zakes Mda.

Last, thanks to Coovadia for finding the space to mention BOOK SA (and the Book Lounge) – we’re blushing!

From Albie Sachs and Thando Mgqolozana to Wells Tower and some lesser-known talents, the Sunday Independent’s reviewers and a handful of writers offer up the fruits of their readings

Michiel Heyns

Small Moving Parts by Sally-Ann Murray (Kwela). Her vast ragbag of 1960s recollections are a scintillating addition to the “childhood under apartheid” sub-genre.

Ways of Staying by Kevin Bloom (Picador Africa). Updates the picture soberingly, taking a long hard look at the present state of the rainbow nation, and refraining from despair only by a moving act of faith.

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates (Vintage). A new discovery for me this year, prompted by the movie. Originally published in 1961, this harrowing drama of suburban disaffection has lost nothing of its bleak power.

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