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Book Bites: 4 November

Published in the Sunday Times

The Wife’s Tale ****
Aida Edemariam, HarperCollins, R285

Aida Edemariam retells the story of her grandmother’s life in Ethiopia in a gentle portrait that starts off in a feudal monarchy and ends in a Marxist dictatorship. We learn that her gran, Yetemegnu, was married before she was 10 years old. Surrounded by priests and soldiers, Yetemegnu’s life was filled with challenges that many could not even begin to fathom. Her fight for justice after her husband’s arrest and her inherent ability to help people in desperate need gives Yetemegnu a voice that is stronger than the change her country faces. Edemariam does a magnificent job of translating her grandmother’s strength and legacy. Jessica Levitt @jesslevitt

Circus ****
Irma Venter Human & Rousseau, R280

Adriana van der Hoon is a teenager growing up in ’80s Johannesburg. Unbeknown to her, her father, the Dutchman, has been bringing donor money into the country for the ANC. He’s shot dead in a fake robbery and she’s forced by a security police handler to take over her father’s “job” at the Education Trust, and track down where the money was coming from. The headstrong 18-year-old goes to Berlin on her first covert mission, where she works at a club as a knife-thrower. She starts a relationship with the club owner who supplies the money she is to take back to SA. But Adriana soon finds out he is a pimp, a money launderer and a murderer. Clean and simply written, this is a refreshing and thrilling read. Gabriella Bekes @gabrikwa

Things Even Gonzalez Can’t Fix ****
Christy Chilimigras, MF Books Joburg, R225

In this fast-paced, debut memoir about growing up in Joburg’s northern suburbs as the child of two addicts, Christy Chilimigras has crafted a book that explores the impact on her life of a flawed family. If you think that sounds depressing, it’s not, particularly as the writer and her sister emerge from the chaos of their childhood as powerful young women who take a stand. The book is full of humour and vivid descriptions, and would appeal to both older teens, young adults and older folk. I look forward to her second book. Samantha Enslin

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