Books LIVE is proud to present the list of fiction, short story collections and poetry to look out for in the first half of 2016.
There are new novels by Lauri Kubuitsile, Paige Nick, Yewande Omotoso, Sam Wilson and Nthikeng Mohlele to look forward to, as well as Niq Mhlongo’s long-awaited collection of short stories, Affluenza.
In addition to the books listed below, Modjaji Books will be publishing two debut poetry collections, Gedigte by Shirmoney Rhode and How to open the door by Marike Beyers (working titles), as well as Tjieng Tjang Tjerrie and other stories, a collection of short fiction by Jolyn Phillips.
There is also a promising crop of debut novels.
Looking towards the second half of the year, the 2016 Short Sharp Stories anthology, Die Laughing, will be launched at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in July, while Ekow Duker’s third novel The God Who Made Mistakes will be published by Pan Macmillan in August.
South, the cowboy apocalypse novel by Diane Awerbuck and Alex Latimer, will be out from Corvus in July.
Ed’s note: We usually make a point of not using the word ‘local’ to refer South African books, but include it the title of this bi-annual list simply to differentiate it from the many international lists that pop up at this time of year.
Without further ado, have a look at the list:
Note: Covers are subject to change, and information was provided by the publishers
From Man to Man, or Perhaps Only by Olive Schreiner, edited by Dorothy Driver
Schreiner is best known for her youthful The Story of an African Farm, but the “new book” of her adult years may well be her greatest achievement. It is arguably more important and relevant, not only because it is a more mature study of early racial and imperial relations but also because of its more modern characterisation.
This new edition of From Man to Man, edited by Dorothy Driver, corrects the editorial and proofreading errors that marred previous editions. It also provides another ending, in Schreiner’s own words, as told in a letter to a friend.
Outside the Lines by Ameera Patel
Outside the Lines is both a thriller and a family drama. It tells the story of two women: Cathleen, a troubled young woman living in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg; and Flora, who is the domestic worker at Cathleen’s house. Cathleen disappears and tensions and drama ensue.
Craig Higginson calls the novel “edgy, witty, fresh, engaging, moving, memorable”.
Ameera Patel is an actor who has worked on stage and in television (best known for her role as Dr Chetty in Generations). She is also an award winning playwright. Outside the Lines is her first novel.
Happiness is a Four-Letter Word by Cynthia Jele
Happiness is a Four-Letter Word won the 2011 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book, Africa region and the Film Category of the 2011 M-Net Literary Awards. This is the film-tie in edition to coincide with the new movie starring Khanyi Mbau, Renate Stuurman and Mmabatho Montsho.
Think Sex and the City, in Sandton …
Azanian Bridges by Nick Wood
Nick Wood’s debut novel, which will be launched at the British Science Fiction Association Convention this Easter, was longlisted for the inaugural Kwani? Manuscript Prize in 2013 and has shouts from Sarah Lotz, Ian Watson and Ursula K Le Guin.
Azanian Bridges is a socially acute fast-paced thriller that takes place in an alternate modern day South Africa where apartheid still rules.
The Peculiars by Jen Thorpe
Phobias abound at the Centre for Improved Living, where Nazma goes for help. She’s crazy about baking and desperately wants to become a pastry chef, but her fear of driving keeps her stuck working in a train-station kiosk, where she sells stale food to commuters while dreaming of butter croissants and fresh strudel.
Set in a Cape Town as peculiar as its characters, The Peculiars is Jen Thorpe’s heart-warming and humorous debut.
Stations by Nick Mulgrew
David Philip Publishers
In his the debut collection of short stories, Nick Mulgrew tells 14 subtly interlinked tales set along the Southern African coastline from Cape Town to Mozambique, in which relationships, dreams and even narrators die; where fields catch fire, towers implode, and the shadows of the past grow long.
But even from the most uneasy corners – tourist traps, colonial purgatories and libraries for the blind – these stories offer small mercies: glimpses of faith, beauty and the possibility of salvation, no matter how slight.
The Cry of the Hangkaka by Anne Woodborne
Shamed by a divorce, Irene seeks to flee with her daughter from post-WWII South Africa. Jack, a Scotsman who works at the tin mines in Nigeria, seems to be the answer to Irene’s prayers. In the torrid heat of the Nigerian plateau, Karin is exposed to the lives of the colonisers, colonised, and most of all to the dictatorship of Jack.
Máire Fisher says: “I read compulsively, hoping Karin would find a way to escape, hoping she wouldn’t … because then this beautifully nuanced story would come to an end.”
The Cry of the Hangkaka is the debut novel by Anne Woodborne.
Affluenza by Niq Mhlongo
In his characteristically humorous and piercing style, Niq Mhlongo writes about the span of our democracy and the madness of the last 20 years after apartheid.
His short stories address issues such as crime, xenophobia, racism, homophobia, the new black elite, and land redistribution. They have been published to critical acclaim in France, Spain, Germany, Italy and in the USA but remain largely unknown in South Africa.
Affluenza follows on the success of Mhlongo’s three novels, and is his first collection of short stories.
Permanent Removal by Alan Cowell
Permanent Removal is a beautifully written political thriller focusing on the nature of justice, truth, betrayal, sociopolitical and ethical quandaries, complicity and moral agency. The novel introduces readers to a cast of players whose destinies intertwine in a particularly gruesome murder.
Alan S Cowell is an award-winning New York Times journalist.
The Powers of the Knife by Bontle Senne
Sarah Lotz calls The Powers of the Knife: “Deliciously creepy, fast, fun and a blast to read.”
Nom is an outsider at school. When she and Zithembe become friends, life still seems – well – a little ordinary. But when an army of monsters threatens their world, it’s all up to the two of them … and the start of a journey into the dreamworld on a quest that will change their lives.
Powers of the Knife is the first book in the Shadow Chasers trilogy. It’s an African fantasy adventure ̶- one part family saga, one part hero’s quest.
Nwelezelanga: The Star Child by Unathi Magubeni
With a rich vocabulary that is poetic and uncluttered, this debut novel is nothing short of a masterpiece.
Thando Mgqolozana says the novel “will be a rare gift for the scholars, and we ordinary readers will not remember our lives before Magubeni happened”.
Unathi Magubeni is an Eastern Cape-based writer, sangoma and trainee herbalist, who left the corporate world in 2009. His first book, a collection of poetry called Food For Thought, was published in 2003.
Nwelezelanga is a BlackBird Books title.
Like It Matters by David Cornwell
Ed and Charlotte are trying to make a life in Muizenberg, but old habits die hard, and they become embroiled in a scheme that soon slips out of their control.
The first novel from writer and musician David Cornwell, who you may have heard of from the rock band Kraal. Cornwell’s writing has appeared in the Mail & Guardian, Prufrock, Aerodrome, Jungle Jim and New Contrast, among others.
Bearings by Isobel Dixon
In this wide-ranging poetry collection, Isobel Dixon takes readers on a journey to far-flung and sometimes dark places. These poems are forays of discovery and resistance, of arrival and loss. Dixon explores form and subject, keeping a weather eye out for telling detail, with a sharp sense of the threat that these journeys, our wars and stories, and our very existence pose to the planet.
JM Coetzee calls Dixon “a poet confident in her mastery of her medium”. Bearings, her fourth collection, will be published in the UK by Nine Arches Press.
Predator by Wilbur Smith, with Tom Cain
Hector Cross, Wilbur Smith’s most cut-throat and exciting protagonist, is back.
Two men are responsible for the death of Cross’s wife and only one is left alive: Johnny Congo – psychopath, extortionist, murderer, and the bane of Cross’s life. He caught him before and let him go. Now, Hector wants him dead. So does the US government.
Predator is a blockbuster of a novel, with rampaging action and edge-of-your-seat thrills.
Pleasure by Nthikeng Mohlele
Pleasure is one of the oldest and most enduring grand themes of literature, presented here through the eyes and thoughts of writer and dreamer Milton Mohlele.
Drawn against the canvas of 1940s wartime Germany/Europe and modern-day Cape Town, South Africa, Milton sacrifices all for glimpses into the secrets and deceptions of pleasure – and how little those are in the vast scale of life in its glory and absurdity.
Pleasure is Nthikeng Mohlele’s fourth novel.
The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
Penguin Random House
World rights in all languages for Yewande Omotoso’s new novel were snapped up by Chatto & Windus, an imprint of Random House, in April last year.
Omotoso’s first novel, Bom Boy, was published by Modjaji Books, and won a 2012 South African Literary Award for first published author. It was also shortlisted for both the Etisalat Prize and the 2012 Sunday Times Fiction Prize.
The Woman Next Door tells the story of neighbours Hortensia James and Marion Agostino – one black, one white – both over eighty, and sworn enemies.
Dutch Courage by Paige Nick
Grace Hendriks has led a pretty sheltered life. So when her sister Natalie begs her to take her place as a Rihanna impersonator at a club in Amsterdam, no alarm bells go off …
Paige Nick’s new novel, hot on the heels of the hilarious Death By Carbs, is being described as Big Brother meets Showgirls. It’s a hilarious and revealing glimpse into the life and times of a group of career strippers and celebrity impersonators.
The Scattering by Lauri Kubuitsile
The Scattering follows the journeys of two women through history as they wrestle with betrayal, loyalty, hope and the struggle to survive.
Lauri Kubuitsile, who lives in Botswana, is the author of three children’s books, a book for young adults, three detective novellas, four romance novels, three collections of short stories for children (co-written), and a book of her own short stories.
Our Fathers by Karin Brynard
With Plaasmoord and Onse vaders, Karin Brynard made her mark as one of South Africa’s most popular crime writers. Her much-loved characters now make an appearance in Our Fathers, the English translation of Onse vaders.
The novel is part of the hotly contested four-book deal won by Penguin in 2013.
When an apparent break-in goes awry in Stellenbosch, Captain Albertus Markus Beeslaar is drawn into the investigation, while 1 500 kilometres to the north, Sergeant Johannes Ghaap finds himself in a race against time to save the lives of a kidnapped woman and child who are being held captive in Soweto.
In the Maid’s Room by Hagen Engler
How to be white when you’re no longer centre of attention? When you no longer even matter? How to be white when everyone’s patience runs out?
These existential questions are addressed in Hagen Engler’s third novel, the satirical farce In the Maid’s Room.
Other crucial learnings are how to buy weed, how to handle a “brown mouse” and how not to rhyme 16 bars about wanking.
Namaste Life by Ishara Maharaj
Namaste Life is a South African Indian novel, set in Durban and the Eastern Cape, that tells the story of twin sisters who grow up in a sheltered traditional Hindu home.
The sisters’ lives change dramatically when they get to university in the Eastern Cape.
Ishara Maharaj has a background in background in organisational psychology, but is also a closet nomad and is the author of Nine Life Lessons: Answers from the Universe.
The Yearning by Mohale Mashigo
Mohale Mashigo is the pen name of Carol Mashigo, also known by her stage name, Black Porcelain. She is a radio moderator, storyteller, award-winning singer and songwriter.
The Yearning, her debut novel, comes endorsed by Zakes Mda. It is the story of Marubini, a young woman whose past starts spilling into her present. Something is making her sick and her mother is not willing to tell her what it is. She embarks on a journey that is both magical and frightening to find out what it is that haunts her.
Gold Never Rusts by Paul-Constant Smit
Reminiscent of Wilbur Smith and Tony Park, Gold Never Rusts is a unique and inventive adventure story that links the Queen of Sheba with Paul Kruger, and is as captivating as it is entertaining.
Gold Never Rusts is the debut novel from Paul-Constant Smit, a keen diver, spearfisherman, hunter and traveller, who has worked as a translator, art dealer, bespoke-furniture designer and international trader. The book will also be released in Afrikaans as Goud Roes Nooit in June.