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Book Bites: 25 October 2015

Alibaba's WorldAlibaba’s World
Porter Erisman (Macmillan)
*****
Book buff
It’s rare that a book about a company as, well, functional, as Alibaba could be an interesting read. But Alibaba’s World gives great insight into its beginnings and early travails and is well-paced, with fascinating notes on how it went from being run out of Jack Ma’s apartment to a multi-billion-dollar world-beater very, very short time. A well-researched, thoughtful and easy read, not just for those interested in ecommerce, but in China’s booming internet scene.
- Zoe Hinis @ZoeHinis

CrashedCrashed
Melinda Ferguson (MF Books Joburg)
***
Book fling
Ferguson’s latest memoir (her third, after Smacked and Hooked) makes for addictive reading (ahem) and focuses on the year that she crashed a R3.2 million Ferrari while the motoring journalist at True Love magazine. This accident is the catalyst for big life changes: her long term boyfriend leaves her; she has a breakdown and admits herself into a clinic; and she kisses many an alcoholic frog before she meets her one true love on Tinder. The are plenty of oh-my-word moments but Ferguson’s strength is her writing, which is clear, emotive, funny and a pleasure to read.
- Jennifer Platt @Jenniferdplatt

The Quality of SilenceThe Quality of Silence
Rosamund Lupton (Little Brown)
****
Book buff
When Yasmin and her 10-year-old daughter Ruby arrive in Alaska to visit Ruby’s father Matt, they discover that the village where he was staying was consumed by a suspicious fire. Yasmin and Ruby set off across the icy wilderness to bring Matt home, but the odds of finding him alive taper as they make their way through the never-ending night. Worse, a strange man in a tanker is tailing them through the darkness. Narrated in parts by Ruby, who happens to be deaf, The Quality of Silence is “awesome-sauce”, as she would say, and nail-biting to the very end.
- Annetjie van Wynegaard @Annetjievw

A Year of Marvellous WaysA Year of Marvellous Ways
Sarah Winman (Headline)
****
Book buff
A book about how to die and how to live. More specifically, about a spirited and fierce 89-year-old woman, Marvellous, whose mother was a mermaid; and about a battered young man, Drake, who washes up on the edge of Marvellous’s Cornish creek. Swimming between heartbreak and practicality, the prose slips by at a gentle pace. Winman’s refusal to use quotation marks adds to the tale’s muted and mystic effect, as if one is reading underwater. The story is magical and brutal; it is of the extraordinary and the everyday. Literary soul food.
- Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

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