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Book Bites: 27 November 2016

Published in the Sunday Times

Fifty Shades of FeminismFifty Shades of Feminism
Edited by Lisa Appignanesi, Rachel Holmes & Susie Orbach (Virago)
Book buff
The term feminism has never left my mouth; simply because I was raised by my grandparents, and my grandfather did everything for my grandmother, including bringing her breakfast in bed every morning. I always believed it’s logical to do things in a fair and equal way without putting a word to it. And if your thoughts are like mine, I suggest you read this book. It looks at 50 women, exploring what feminism means to them and what still needs to be done – from sexuality and politics to family and fashion. Even readers who have never considered themselves to be feminists might change their minds. – Rea Khoabane @Rea_Khoabane

On BowieOn Bowie
Rob Sheffield (Headline Book Publishing)
Book real
****
Sheffield is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and a lifelong David Bowie fan. He was up late at night working when he heard the news of the star’s death, and immediately leaned over to press play on his Bowie mixtape. Later that morning, his editor phoned to ask him to keep writing about Bowie for the next month. The result is this hastily written “love letter”, with a breathless quality that seems fitting in the face of genius. Sheffield’s observations are acute and his anecdotes illuminating, and he is able to lay his hand on the perfect lyric to illustrate a point. Bowie’s arcane wisdom is a reassuring presence. – Jennifer Malec @projectjennifer

The Monster's DaughterThe Monster’s Daughter
Michelle Pretorius (Melville House)
Book mystery
****
In her action-packed debut novel, Pretorius creates a skilful narrative involving a determined young sleuth whose work on a contemporary murder case reveals the unedifying history of South Africa and exposes the intrigues of unscrupulous individuals. Transferred to a dorp in the Western Cape, disgraced Constable Alet Berg becomes involved in investigations following a murder on a local farm. She pursues the case despite warnings and threats. The background to the murder extends as far back as 1901, when a medic performs experiments on women in the British concentration camps; and continues through apartheid, its deconstruction and the complexities of the present. A work of powerful imagination and profound insight. – Moira Lovell

What a BoykieWhat a Boykie: The John Berks Story
Robin Binckes (30 Degree South Publishers)
Book thrill
****
Who would have thought that a stammering young chap with an Afrikaans accent, who left school without passing Standard 8, would become one of the best-known voices on English radio in South Africa? This follow-your-dream tale traces Berks’s antecedents from Lithuania to South Africa, recounting his childhood on the West Rand, his military training, and his determination to become a radio jockey. Sensitive, witty and humorous, it shows Berks’s passion for drawing pictures with words. Berks became notorious for his pranks, for breaking taboos and handling (inciting?) controversy on air. This portrait touches on the challenges of navigating apartheid laws to bring relevant news to listeners. Prankster, raconteur and family man, this memoir reveals multiple facets of a unique personality. – Ayesha Kajee @ayeshakajee

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