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Book Bites: 19 April 2015

The Ladies of the HouseThe Ladies of the House
Molly McGrann (Macmillan)
****
Book buff
The premise of three elderly people found dead in a house in London might lead you to believe that this is a thriller. Instead McGrann delivers a poignant story about former high-end call girls now living out their days in desperate straits. She traces their lives back to when they were hopeful, ambitious young women who – in the universal way of the world – fall into prostitution just to survive. Vivid in its setting, rich in characterisation, this is a memorable novel from the former editor of The Paris Review.
- Michele Magwood @michelemagwood

Hunger Eats a ManHunger Eats a Man
Nkosinathi Sithole (Penguin)
***
Book buff
Priest Gumede lives with his family in Ndlalidlindoda, a place of hunger. Struggling to feed his family, he is haunted by his conscience – which makes taking certain jobs hard – and his son, who questions everything, including his faith. While Ndlalidlindoda is riddled with poverty not far away is Canaan, a place where the rich live and thrive. The division is vividly written, and through his characters’ helplessness, Sithole finely delineates the double standards of politicians, who sweet-talk the poor into giving away their rights.
- Kholofelo Maenetsha @KMaenetsha

Jani ConfidentialJani Confidential
Jani Allan (Jacana)
****
Book buff
Overwritten, dripping with dropped names and as full of holes as Eugene Terreblanche’s green underpants, Jani Allan’s memoir is utterly unputdownable. The alleged Terreblanche affair? Not my fault, Jani claims, and nothing happened anyway. She may be born-again, but she has some decidedly un-Christian comments about the people and city, Johannesburg, that raised her so high, then dropped her. But the odd whiney note can be forgiven in a book that is an unmitigated guilty pleasure.
- Aubrey Paton

Because The NightBecause the Night
Stacy Hardy (Pocko)
****
Book buff
This series of short fiction pieces focuses on sex as need, as escape, release, role-play and rebellion. The protagonists are rarely named, lending the collection a voyeuristic quality. There is little tenderness in these tales, yet the reading is compelling. “You learn to live in the cracks, on the perimeter, with the need,” writes Hardy. Each piece, the settings of which are uniquely South African, is punctuated by the evocative photography of Mario Pischedda. This sexy, literary read is for those who like it dark and raw.
- Joanne Hichens @JoanneHichens

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