Archive for the ‘Academic’ Category
Books LIVE is proud to present the list of non-fiction books to look out for in the first half of 2016.
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Three eagerly anticipated books that will make an appearance this year are Kevin Bloom and Richard Poplak’s magnum opus on Africa, Continental Shift, Alex Eliseev’s examination of the Betty Ketani murder investigation, Cold Case Confession, and Don Pinnock’s City Press Non-fiction Award-winning book, Gang Town.
Patrick Craven’s The Battle for Cosatu: An Insider’s View and The Bribe: How South Africa Stole the World Cup by Ray Hartley are sure to make a splash.
Letters of Stone: Discovering A Family’s History In Nazi Germany by Capetonian Steven Robins is already receiving some very favourable reviews, with Antjie Krog calling it “a most exceptional and unforgettable book”.
Finally, William Dicey, the author of the critically acclaimed Borderline (2004), has a new book of essays out titled Mongrel, which comes highly recommended by Ivan Vladislavić.
Looking ahead towards the second half of the year, Jessica Pitchford’s Switched At Birth – the true story of the boys who were accidentally swapped at an East Rand hospital in 2010 – is out in July, and is sure to capture the imagination. In November, Trevor Noah’s collection of essays will be published, while the long-awaited sequel to Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom is expected in November or December.
If you think we’ve left something out, feel free to let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter.
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 our list:
Note: Covers are subject to change, and information was provided by the publishers
Relocations: Reading Culture in South Africa edited by Cóilín Parsons, Imraan Coovadia and Alexandra Dodd
Relocations brings together a selection of the Gordon Institute for the Performing and Creative Arts Great Texts/Big Questions public lecture series by world-renowned artists, writers and thinkers
The authors range from novelists André Brink and Imraan Coovadia (one of the collection’s editors), to poets Gabeba Baderoon and Rustum Kozain, to artist William Kentridge and social activist Zackie Achmat. The topics are as wide as Don Quixote, Marx and Lincoln, trout fishing, Hamlet, the 19th-century Russian writer Gogol and Nabokov’s novel Lolita.
More about the book
The Compassionate Englishwoman: Emily Hobhouse in the Boer War by Robert Eales
In 1899 the South African War broke out. As the war progressed, in London the upper-class Emily Hobhouse learned of the camps in southern Africa that contained mostly Boer women and children who had been displaced by the hostilities. She was so concerned that she decided to go to South Africa to investigate. By herself and on her own initiative, she travelled by ship to Cape Town, to begin the distribution of aid to these camps.
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Letters of Stone by Steven Robins
Penguin Random House South Africa
“This is a most exceptional and unforgettable book” – Antjie Krog
Letters of Stone tracks Robins’s journey of discovery about the lives and fates of the Robinski family, in southern Africa, Berlin, Riga and Auschwitz. It also explores the worldwide rise of eugenics and racial science before the war, which justified the murder of Jews by the Nazis and caused South Africa and other countries to close their doors to Jewish refugees.
Most of all, this book is a poignant reconstruction of a family trapped in an increasingly terrifying and deadly Nazi state, and of the immense pressure on Robins’ father in faraway South Africa, which forced him to retreat into silence.
More about the book
Continental Shift by Kevin Bloom and Richard Poplak
Africa is falling. Africa is succeeding. Africa is betraying its citizens. Africa is a place of starvation, corruption, disease. African economies are soaring faster than any on earth. Africa is squandering its bountiful resources. Africa is a roadmap for global development. Africa is turbulent. Africa is stabilising. Africa is doomed. Africa is the future.
All of these pronouncements prove equally true and false, as South African journalists Richard Poplak and Kevin Bloom discover on their nine-year road trip through the paradoxical continent they call home.
How to Invest Like Warren Buffett by Alec Hogg
This is the South African guide on investing like Warren Buffett by award-winning financial publisher Alec Hogg.
Learn how the investment genius of Buffett can be applied to South African investing. This book is packed with invaluable lessons and insights from the world’s greatest wealth creator.
Useful charts and graphics are included in the book to provide more details about concepts and shares.
Touched by Biko by Andile M-Afrika
This is a political memoir of life in a rural South African township – with Andile M-Afrika weaving a lyrical tale from actual events surrounding this country’s struggle history, where Steve Bantu Biko played a pivotal role.
M-Afrika’s engaging narrative delves deep into his personal encounters with people, political events and day-to-day life in rural King Williams Town, Eastern Cape. What speaks volumes, are the pervasive echoes of Biko’s presence, on those who shared life in this historic village.
Written with a unique vibrancy and fine wit to enthrall readers from all walks of life, Touched by Biko will be enjoyed by all with an interest in the South African struggle history.
Murder at Small Koppie by Greg Marinovich
Penguin Random House South Africa
Renowned photojournalist Greg Marinovich explores the truth behind the Marikana massacre, looking specifically at the largely untold slaughter at Small Koppie.
Drawing on his own meticulous investigations, eyewitness accounts and the findings of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry set up by President Jacob Zuma following the massacre, Marinovich accurately reconstructs that fateful day as well as the events leading up to the strike.
This is the definitive account of the Marikana massacre from the journalist whose award-winning investigation into the tragedy was called the most important piece of South African journalism post-apartheid.
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The New Black Middle Class in South Africa by Roger Southall
Despite the fact that the “rise of the black middle class” is one of the most visible aspects of post-apartheid society and a major actor in the reshaping of South African society, analysis of it has been lacking. Rather, the image presented by the media has been of “black diamonds” and corrupt “tenderpreneurs”.
This book presents a new way of looking at the black middle class which seeks to complicate that picture, an analysis that reveals its impactful role in the recent history of South Africa.
The Struggle Continues: 50 Years of Tyranny in Zimbabwe by David Coltart
The memoir of David Coltart, one of the most prominent political and human rights figures in Zimbabwe. Over the years, Coltart has been threatened, detained, spuriously prosecuted and has survived several direct attempts on his life.
As a young man, Coltart was urged by Robert Mugabe to return to Zimbabwe from South Africa, but he would become one of Mugabe’s favourite targets of vilification, branded a traitor to the state and worthy of remaining in the country only as a resident of one of its prisons.
Simply Delicious by Zola Nene
In Nene’s own words: “Food has always been a huge part of my life; important occasions were always marked with a feast of some sort …”
That’s exactly what Simply Delicious is all about; it’s Nene’s culinary career told through her recipes, interspersed with snippets and perspectives of her life journey, including tributes to the people who have inspired and influenced her cooking style and explaining the reason for certain culinary choices that she has made.
Nene is currently the resident chef on Expresso Morning Show.
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The Dot Spot:A Journey into Sex and Love by Dorothy Black
The Dot Spot will be South Africa’s first, fun and frank “how-to” guide on untangling the mysteries of sex, love and relationships.
Written in an upfront, entertaining and sassy style, the book uncovers everything you’ve ever wanted to know about dating and relationships, from kink to sexual self-empowerment.
All of us want to find the similarities and connections in the secrets, fantasies and desires that we have but are often too shy to talk about. This book will spark that conversation with unbridled candour.
Dorothea Bleek: A Life of Scholarship by Jill Weintroub
Wits University Press
Dorothea Bleek (1873 to 1948) devoted her life to completing the “bushman researches” her father and aunt had begun in the closing decades of the 19th century.
How has history treated Dorothea Bleek? Has she been recognised as a scholar in her own right? Was she an adventurer, or was she conservative, a researcher who belittled the people she studied? These are some of the questions with which Jill Weintroub starts this thoughtful biography.
Weintroub is Research Fellow at the Wits Rock Art Research Institute.
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The Banting Solution by Bernadine Douglas and Bridgette Allan
Penguin Random House South Africa
At last, the banting book that will answer ALL your questions about the banting lifestyle AND provide you with the solution to permanent weight loss!
The Banting Solution answers banters’ most pressing questions, including mythbusting, meal plans, and how to bant on a budget.
Most importantly, it teaches us how to get rid of those unwanted kilos and keep them off forever.
The Reb and the Rebel: Jewish Narratives in South Africa 1892-1913 by Carmel Schrire and Gwynne Schrire
Unedited, unbowdlerised memoirs of the origin and development of the South African Jewish community are few and far between.
The Reb and the Rebel contains three previously unpublished autobiographical works – a diary, a poem and a memoir – by Yehuda Leib Schrire (1851-1912) and his son, Harry Nathan. Few of the early immigrants to South Africa were writers, let alone poets, and the social history provided in these documents embellishes and enlivens the picture of South African Jewish communities at the turn of the 20th century.
Mongrel: Essays by William Dicey
From the author of the critically acclaimed Borderline (2004), Mongrel investigates a range of topics – radical environmentalism, the faultlines between farmer and farm worker, the joys and sorrows of reading – yet drifts of concern and sensibility draw the collection together. Several essays touch on how books can move, and sometimes maul, their readers.
Ivan Vladislavić says: “Dicey is what I look for in a writer: he has something to say and he puts it across with skill, intelligence and wit.”
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To Quote Myself by Khaya Dlanga
In To Quote Myself, Khaya Dlanga recounts entertaining and moving stories about his roots and upbringing in rural Transkei, how he made his mark at school as well as his time spent studying advertising and as a stand-up comedian.
Dlanga also shares his political views, and how he overcame homelessness to become one of the most influential marketers in South Africa.
The cover of this new edition, designed by Ayanda Mbanjwa, was the winning entry in a competition held by Pan Macmillan last year.
Gang Town by Don Pinnock
Gang Town is the winner of the 2013 City Press Non-fiction Award.
Why is Cape Town one of the most violent cities on earth? What is it that makes gangs so attractive to young people? Why is it getting worse? Bestselling author Don Pinnock answers these questions in Gang Town, and looks at solutions to the problem.
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Umkonto We Sizwe: The ANC’s Armed Struggle by Thula Simpson
Penguin Random House South Africa
Written in a fresh, immediate style, Umkhonto we Sizwe is an honest account of the armed struggle. It does not seek to glorify or to whitewash, but rather to chronicle a fascinating series of events from the beginning of the struggle to the negotiated settlement of the 1990s.
Thula Simpson is a senior lecturer in the Department of Historical and Heritage Studies at the University of Pretoria. He has spent a decade researching and writing on the history of the ANC’s liberation struggle. His research has been conducted in Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, the United Kingdom and most extensively in South Africa.
Exit! by Grizelda Grootboom
Exit! is the story of Grizelda Grootboom life of prostitution and her ultimate escape from it all.
Grizelda’s life was dramatically changed when she was gang raped at the age of nine by teenagers in her township. Her story starts there. It is a story about the cycle of poverty, family abandonment, dislocation, and survival in the streets of Cape Town.
Grizelda is now an activist against human trafficking who supports fellow survivors undergoing rehabilitation.
Exit! is a BlackBird Books title.
Own Your Space: The Toolkit for the Working Woman by Nadia Bilchik and Lori Miller
Own Your Space provides practical tools and insights gleaned from workshops held around the world and from interviews with some of South Africa’s most accomplished women.
The book will provide you with tried-and-tested techniques, tips and advice to help you boost your career, enhance your confidence and truly own your space on every level.
The End of Whiteness: Satanism and Family Murder in South Africa by Nicky Falkof
Towards the end of apartheid, white South Africans found themselves in the middle of new social and political change that showed itself in some strangely morbid “symptoms”. This book discusses two of the primary symptoms that appeared in the media and in popular literature at the time – an apparent threat from a cult of white Satanists and a so-called epidemic of white family murder.
Nicky Falkof is senior lecturer in Media Studies at Wits University.
Critical Thinking, Science, and Pseudoscience: Why We Can’t Trust Our Brains by Caleb W Lack and Jacques Rousseau
This unique text for undergraduate courses teaches students to apply critical thinking skills across all academic disciplines by examining popular pseudoscientific claims through a multidisciplinary lens.
From alien abductions and psychic phenomena to strange creatures and unsupported alternative medical treatments, the text uses examples from a wide range of pseudoscience fields and brings evidence from diverse disciplines to critically examine these erroneous claims.
The Code: The Power of “I Will” by Shaun Tomson
This book is about many things – faith, courage, creativity, determination – but above all it’s about the promises we make to ourselves about the future.
Shaun Tomson is a former World Surfing Champion, and considered one of the 16 greatest surfers of all time. He is a business finance graduate from the University of Natal and the creator of two popular apparel brands: Instinct in the 1980s and Solitude in the 1990s. He lives in Santa Barbara, California, and is an inspirational speaker.
Trail Blazer: My Life as an Ultra-distance Trail Runner by Ryan Sandes with Steve Smith
What does it take to run a six-day race through the world’s harshest deserts? Or 100 miles in a single day at altitudes that would leave you breathless just walking? More than that, though: what is it like to win these races? South Africa’s ultra-trail-running superstar – and former rudderless party animal – Ryan Sandes has done just that.
Trail Blazer: My Life as an Ultra-distance Trail Runner is written with bestselling author and journalist Steve Smith.
Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Kak? The Zuma Years by Tim Richman
Although we thought we’d got it all off our chests in the late 2000s with the original Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Kak? series, well, it’s back on our chests, isn’t it?
After the annus horribilus Saffercanus of 2015 – after the doom and gloom of How Long Will South Africa Survive? and We Have Now Begun Our Descent (NB: bestsellers!) – it’s time once again for a book that unites South Africans in their misery and allows us to laugh it off. Just in time for the National Elections, of course!
The Story Of A House: Fables And Feasts From La Creuzette by Louis Jansen van Vuuren and Hardy Olivier
It took 15 years to fully restore the impressive Château de la Creuzette to her former glory. She continues to rest in her shaded park, surrounded by centuries-old trees, and welcomes her expectant guests with open arms.
Apart from the almost 90 new recipes, there is an additional Crookbook in which the two hosts share their easy shortcut recipes and tips. The Story of a House is not only two cookbooks in one, but also a richly adorned reading book that traces the history of a manor house and follows the story of its people.
Writing the Decline by Richard Pithouse
This book tracks the steady decay of the democratic promise in recent years. Written from an understanding that democracy should be for everyone, rather than merely a contest between elites, it explores the growing authoritarianism of the state, the deepening social crisis, and avenues of hope and possibility.
Dr Richard Pithouse teaches politics at Rhodes University, where he lectures on contemporary political theory and urban studies.
Writing the Decline has received high praise from Niren Tolsi and Eusebius McKaiser.
The Goddess Mojo Bootcamp by Kagiso Msimango
The Goddess Mojo Bootcamp will help you discover an authentic you to find real long-lasting love.
This is the book for you whether you want a man for a reason, a season, a lifetime, or one to match each of your handbags … it has zero moral pontifications. It won’t warn you against sleeping with a man on the first date. There are no 90-day rules in this book.
Kagiso Msimango is the founder of The Goddess Academy and the author of The Goddess Bootcamp.
The Goddess Mojo Bootcamp is a MFBooks title.
River of Gold: Narratives and Exploration of the Great Limpopo by Mike Gardner, Peter Norton and Clive Walker
Here for the first time is the only full account of South Africa’s most iconic river, its history, its ancient past, wildlife, landscapes, early kingdoms and their people, warfare, trade, slaves, 19th-century hunting, travel and adventures and the conservation efforts of four national parks of which the renowned Kruger National Park is one.
The book (and the river) encompasses two world heritage sites, two Transfrontier conservation areas, private game reserves, some of the richest rock art sites in southern Africa with the river’s “source” centred at the site of the world’s richest gold deposits ever discovered, Johannesburg.
The Sword and the Pen: A Lifetime in South African Journalism by Allister Sparks
Legendary journalist Allister Sparks joined his first newspaper at age 17. In The Sword and the Pen, he tells the story of how he watched and chronicled and participated in his country’s unfolding drama for more than 60 years.
Nelson Mandela said Sparks’s “outspoken views have served the cause of democracy in this country magnificently”.
In trenchant prose, he has written a remarkable account of both a life lived to its fullest capacity as well as the surrounding narrative of South Africa from the birth of apartheid, the rise of political opposition, the dawn of democracy, right through to the crisis we are experiencing today.
Thabo Mbeki: A Jacana Pocket Biography by Adekeye Adebajo
This is a fresh and concise reappraisal of Thabo Mbeki, South Africa’s second democratic president in succession to Nelson Mandela.
Though his term of office was controversial in many respects and ended in a spectacular palace coup at the ANC’s Polokwane Conference in 2007, his reputation has been gradually undergoing rehabilitation since then, particularly because of widespread disillusion his successor as president, Jacob Zuma.
Part of the Jacana Pocket series.
Jack Simons – Teacher, Scholar and Comrade: A Jacana Pocket Biography by Hugh Macmillan
Jack Simons (1907–1995) was one of the leading left-wing intellectuals – and one of the greatest teachers – in 20th-century South Africa.
As a lecturer in African Studies at the University of Cape Town from 1937 until he was prevented from teaching by the government in 1964, and thereafter through his lectures and writings in exile, he had a profound effect on the thinking of generations of white and black students and on the liberation movement as a whole.
Part of the Jacana Pocket series.
The Disruptors: Social Entrepreneurs Reinventing Business and Society by Kerryn Krige and Gus Silber
Can business change the world? Can the world change business?
For a new breed of social entrepreneurs, striving to build and grow enterprises that fight social ills, foster opportunity, and help to improve society, the answer is not can, it’s must.
From healthcare to mobile gaming, from education to recycling, from dancing to gardening, these are the game-changers, the difference-makers, the doers of good. Here are their stories.
Kerryn Krige heads up the Network for Social Entrepreneurs at GIBS, and has worked in the social sector since 2001. Gus Silber is an award-winning journalist, editor speechwriter and author, with a special interest in social entrepreneurship.
The Maverick Insider: A Struggle for Union Independence in a Time of National Liberation by Johnny Copelyn
Johnny Copelyn is the CEO of Hosken Consolidated Investment (HCI) Limited and Johnnic Holdings Limited, a position he has held since 1997. From 1974 he was general secretary of various unions in the clothing and textiles industries before becoming a member of parliament in 1994.
The Maverick Insider provides a rich and detailed recording of the important years of building trade unions in South Africa from the 1970s onwards, in particular the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU).
Zimbabwe’s migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms: The Roots of Impermanence by Maxim Bolt
Wits University Press
“In precise, limpid prose, Maxim Bolt brings to life the human ecology of a border farm. [...] It is a significant achievement.” – Jonny Steinberg
During the Zimbabwean crisis, millions crossed through the apartheid-era border fence, searching for ways to make ends meet. Maxim Bolt explores the lives of Zimbabwean migrant labourers, of settled black farm workers and their dependants, and of white farmers and managers, as they intersect on the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
South Africa’s Settler Colonialism and Liberal Democracy by Thiven Reddy
Wits University Press
Two unmistakable features describe post-apartheid politics. The first is the formal framework of liberal democracy, including regular elections, multiple political parties, and a range of progressive social rights. The second is the politics of the “extraordinary”, which include a political discourse that relies on threats and the use of violence, the crude re-racialisation of numerous conflicts, and protests over various popular grievances.
In this highly original work, Thiven Reddy shows how conventional approaches to understanding democratisation have failed to capture the complexities of South Africa’s post-apartheid transition. Rather, as a product of imperial expansion, the South African state, capitalism and citizen identities have been uniquely shaped by a particular mode of domination, namely “settler colonialism”.
From Protest to Challenge: Volume 2: Hope and Challenge, 1935–1952 by Thomas G Karis and Sheridan Johns, revised and updated by Gail M Gerhart
From Protest to Challenge is a multi-volume chronicle of the struggle to achieve democracy and end racial discrimination in South Africa.
Beginning in 1882 during the heyday of European imperialism, these volumes document the history of race conflict, protest, and political mobilisation by South Africa’s black majority.
Volumes 3, 5 and 6 of the series were launched in 2013.
This Present Darkness: A History of Nigerian Organised Crime by Stephen Ellis
Successful Nigerian criminal networks have a global reach, interacting with their Italian, Latin American and Russian counterparts. Yet in 1944, a British colonial official wrote that “the number of persistent and professional criminals is not great” in Nigeria and that “crime as a career has so far made little appeal to the young Nigerian”.
This latest book by celebrated African historian Stephen Ellis traces the origins of Nigerian organised crime to the last years of colonial rule, when nationalist politicians acquired power at regional level.
Scorched Earth: 100 Years of Southern African Potteries by Wendy Gers
Scorched Earth will be the first comprehensive history of fine art potteries in southern Africa, with a focus on pioneer ceramic studios and workshops.
Wendy Gers is a former curator at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, and now lectures at l’Ecole Supérieure d’Art et de Design de Valenciennes, France. Gers curated the prestigious Taiwan Ceramics Biennale 2014 and is a research associate at the University of Johannesburg and an associate advisor at The Design Cradle, Cape Town.
Promise and Despair: The First Struggle for a Non-Racial South Africa by Martin Plaut
Most people believe that black South Africans obtained the vote for the first time in 1994. In fact, for almost a century suitably qualified black people had enjoyed the vote in the Cape and Natal, and in certain constituencies had decided the outcome of parliamentary elections.
This is the story of the struggle for a non-racial constitution, with its centrepiece being a lively account of the delegation that travelled to London in mid-1909, led by a famous white lawyer and former prime minister of the Cape, Will Schreiner, brother of the novelist Olive Schreiner.
Sigh the Beloved Country by Bongani Madondo
With his customary flair and eye for detail, Bongani Madondo will delight his readers in this new essay collection.
The book displays his unique take on all things South African, including people and places, issues ranging from “Kissing & Lynching the Black Body” to “New Money Culture” and “Student Politics”, along with criticism and homage to our Beloved Country and those who call it home.
With a foreword by Rian Malan.
I am the Girl Who was Raped by Michelle Hattingh
In the morning Michelle Hattingh presented her Psychology honours thesis on men’s perceptions of rape, and in the evening she was raped herself.
Within minutes of getting help, Michelle realised she’ll never be herself again. She’s now “the girl who was raped”. Her memoir of this experience is an act of reclamation for herself and for all the women in South Africa who are raped every day.
Michelle Hattingh works as senior online content producer at Marie Claire SA. Her work has been published in Elle SA, Marie Claire SA and the Mail & Guardian. I’m the Girl Who was Raped is her first book.
Cold Case Confession by Alex Eliseev
Whether the real mastermind behind the Tandiwe “Betty” Ketani murder will be captured remains unknown, so does the true motive for the crime. In court, prosecutors said the case was like a mosaic, with all the pieces coming together to form a disturbing picture. Not all the pieces have been found. But already, this has become one of South Africa’s most intriguing crime stories.
Dubbed a “troublemaker” for his investigative work, Eyewitness News reporter Alex Eliseev is an award-winning hard news journalist who has reported from countries such as Haiti, Japan and Libya.
The Battle for Cosatu: An Insider’s View by Patrick Craven
In The Battle for Cosatu, former Cosatu insider and national spokesperson Patrick Craven recounts the happenings of the last five years of the biggest and most powerful labour federation, leading up to the expulsion of Numsa and Zwelinzima Vavi.
Craven has become the go-to person for labour-related commentary. In this, his first book, we are given insight into one of the most tumultuous times for trade unions in post-apartheid South Africa.
Drawing strongly on personal recollections, media interpretations and official documents, Craven exposes the breakdown of the tripartite alliance – and the implications of this for South Africa’s labour movement and the country as a whole.
The Road to Soweto by Julian Brown
This account of the decade that preceded the Soweto Uprising of June 1976 will transform our understanding of this crucial flashpoint of South Africa’s history. It begins by showing how students at South Africa’s segregated white and black universities began to reorganise themselves as a political force; how new ideas about race reinvigorated political thought; and how debates around confrontation shaped the development of new forms of protest.
Julian Brown is a lecturer in the Department of Political Studies at Wits and the author of South Africa’s Insurgent Citizens.
Your First Year of Varsity: A Survival Guide for University and College by Shelagh Foster and Lehlohonolo Mofokeng
Essential reading for matriculants, first year university and college students – and their parents!
Your First Year of Varsity talks directly to Grade 12 learners and first year students who arrive at their place of higher education filled with hopes, expectations, fears and dreams; yet with little understanding of what this new world means and how to adapt, grow – and graduate.
Shelagh Foster is the author of the highly popular Your First Year of Work. Lehlohonolo Mofokeng is a Master of Education candidate from Wits as a Mandela-Rhodes Scholar.
Natures of Africa: Ecocriticism and Animal Studies in Contemporary Cultural Forms edited by Fiona Moolla
Wits University Press
Environmental and animal studies are rapidly growing areas of interest across a number of disciplines, but there are few books that show how nature in Africa is represented, celebrated, mourned or commoditised.
Natures of Africa features new research from East Africa and Zimbabwe, as well as the ecocritical and eco-activist “powerhouses” of Nigeria and South Africa.
Fiona Moolla is the author of Reading Nuruddin Farah: The Individual, the Novel and the Idea of Home.
Apartheid and The Making of a Black Psychologist by Chabani Manganyi
Wits University Press
Few autobiographies exploring the “life of the mind” and the “history of ideas” have come out of South Africa, and this intriguing memoir details what it meant to be a committed black intellectual activist during the apartheid years.
Starting with his rural upbringing in Mavambe in Limpopo province in the 1940s, Chabani Manganyi’s life story unfolds at a gentle pace, tracing the twists and turns of his journey from humble beginnings to Yale University in the USA, and beyond.
Land Dispossession and Resistance in Gordonia: A Hidden History of the Northern Cape, 1800-1990 by Martin Legassick
This book presents aspects of a generally unknown “brown” and “black” history of the Gordonia region of the Northern Cape Province, which has received relatively little attention from historians.
The essays are intended to emphasise the lives of ordinary people, and are also in part an exercise in “applied history” – historical writing with a direct application to people’s lives in the present.
Always Anastacia: A Transgender Life in South Africa by Anastacia Tomson
Born into an orthodox Jewish family in Johannesburg and brought up as a boy, Tomson was never sure how much of her conflicted sense of self to blame on her often troubled family life and strict upbringing. It would take her nearly 30 years, a great deal of questioning and a bravery she could never have imagined to find the peace and self-acceptance she had always sought.
Tomson’s moving memoir is the first of its kind in South Africa.
Blacks DO Caravan by Fikile Hlatshwayo
This book is written by a black woman whose voice so clearly disrupts the stereotypes that so many have grown accustomed to.
This trip began on 15 September 2014 and lasted three months. Fikile and her family visited over 25 caravan parks. They covered over 10 000 kilometres, and traversed all nine provinces. Fikile came to the realisation that South Africa is still a divided nation: “The idea that camping is for white people is so entrenched, and my question is, who set these standards?”
The Bribe: How South Africa Stole the World Cup by Ray Hartley
Behind the 2010 World Cup lay years of corporate skulduggery, crooked companies rigging tenders and match-fixing involving the national team.
In The Bribe: How South Africa Stole the World Cup, Ray Hartley reveals the story of an epic national achievement and the people who undermined it in pursuit of their own interests. It is the real story of the 2010 World Cup.
AB: The Autobiography by AB de Villiers
This is AB’s story, in his own words … the story of the youngest of three talented, sports-mad brothers growing up in Warmbaths, of a boy who excelled at tennis, rugby and cricket, of a youngster who made his international debut at the age of 20 and was then selected in every single Test played by South Africa for the next 11 seasons, of a batsman who has started to redefine the art, being ranked among the world’s very best in Test, ODI and T20.
This is the story of a modern sporting phenomenon.
Entrepreneurship 101 Tackling the basics of business start-up in South Africa by Joshua Maluleke
Entrepreneurship 101 aims to educate South Africans about the fundamentals of entrepreneurship while looking at a uniquely South African business environment.
Joshula Maluleke has included a section on frequently asked questions at the back of the book in an attempt to provide in-depth answers to some of the questions he gets asked at his entrepreneurship talks. Questions like: Can I register my spaza shop? I have registered a business with CIPC and government has not given me an opportunity to do business, what must I do?
The Thabo Mbeki I Know edited by Sifiso Ndlovu and Miranda Strydom
The Thabo Mbeki I Know is a collection of contributions on and personal recollections about former South African President Thabo Mbeki.
In some cases, individuals have been interviewed about their interactions with Mbeki, specifically with this collection in mind, and other contributions have been authored by the individuals concerned.
These personal reflections present a fresh perspective on Mbeki’s time in office and his legacy.
A Citizen’s Guide to Crime Statistics by Anine Kriegler and Mark Shaw
A Citizen’s Guide to Crime Statistics provides a basis to understand South Africa’s crime statistics in a manner that is accessible to the general public.
Each chapter challenges a set of oft-repeated assumptions about how bad crime is, where it occurs, and who its victims are. It also demonstrates how and why crime statistics need to be matched with other forms of research, including criminal justice data, in order to produce a fuller account of what we are faced with.
Verwoerd: Architect of Apartheid by Henry Kenney
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr Hendrik Verwoerd by Dimitri Tsafendas.
Originally released in 1980, Henry Kenney’s incisive study of the architect of apartheid and paragon of Afrikaner nationalism will be republished in 2016 to coincide with this significant moment in South Africa’s modern history.
The new edition contains an introduction by David Welsh, Emeritus Professor at Stellenbosch University, bringing it into the 21st century and updating it for a new generation.
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Former president Thabo Mbeki has released another extraordinary statement through his Facebook page.
In the piece, Mbeki addresses his alleged “aloofness”, with references to numerous uses of the word to describe him in various newspaper articles around the world over the years.
However, Mbeki contends: “… I have never been able to answer the question – from whom and what was I ‘aloof’?”
Read the article:
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‘DARE YOU PONDER THE OBVIOUS: OF COURSE MBEKI IS ALOOF.’
By Thabo Mbeki
February 1, 2016
In 2001, the ANC National Working Committee (NWC), of which I was a member, issued the seminal document, “Through the eye of a needle? Choosing the best cadres to lead transformation.” [‘The eye of the needle’.]
Among others, this document specifies the critical requirement that, “A leader should constantly seek to improve his capacity to serve the people; he should strive to be in touch with the people all the time, listen to their views and learn from them. He should be accessible and flexible; and not arrogate to himself the status of being the source of all wisdom.”
Six years after this document was issued, the ANC held its elective 52nd National Conference in Polokwane. At this Conference I lost the contest for the position of President of the ANC, with the delegates electing Comrade Jacob Zuma as President.
Before the Conference there had been much public/media discussion about the possible outcome and meaning of this election, which continued long afterwards, to date.
Some of this discussion advanced the proposition that one of the reasons I would and did lose the election was that I was ‘aloof’, a leadership defect which had allegedly alienated the majority of the ANC members, and therefore the delegates at the Conference.
If this charge of being ‘aloof’ was correct, this meant that even as I was President of the ANC, with the obvious obligation to serve as a role model, I had disrespected the directive contained in ‘The eye of the needle’ to “strive to be in touch with the people all the time, listen to their views and learn from them … (to) be accessible and flexible; and not arrogate to (oneself) the status of being the source of all wisdom.”
The reason the ‘Eye of the needle’ raised this matter was that it had been discussed by the ANC leadership in both the NEC and the NWC, as well as in our National Conferences and the National General Councils.
One of the observations that had been made in these discussions was that because so many of the ANC leaders were involved in demanding Government work at National, Provincial and Local levels, the ANC leadership as a whole was losing direct and immediate contact with the people and that this had to be corrected.
However, in my specific case, the charge of being ‘aloof’ rested on the assertion that whether intentionally or not, my very style of leadership meant that I deliberately chose to be ‘not in touch with the people’, (and the membership of the ANC), obviously having ‘arrogated to myself the status of being the source of all wisdom.’
Some elected constantly to propagate this notion as an established and self-evident truth which did not even require that any evidence should be produced to substantiate this ‘truth’.
Thus in September 2009, Blade Nzimande, General Secretary of the SACP, was quoted by the Mail and Guardian as having said that “there is an almost complete national consensus that Mbeki’s aloof and intolerant personality was a disaster … Thankfully we are now once more in a situation in which national dialogue and debate are possible.”
Earlier still, in September 2008, the UK Financial Times had carried a report from its correspondent in South Africa, Alec Russell, entitled “Thabo Mbeki: Aloof leader who fell from grace”. Russell went on to say:
“It was clear even then (when he succeeded President Mandela) that Mr Mbeki was a curious politician. He made clear he would never be a crowd pleaser … His undoing, friends and enemies agree, was his aloofness.”
Another September 2008 article in the US Chicago Tribune, entitled “South Africa’s Mbeki aloof to the end”, said, “Even to the bitter end, Thabo Mbeki stayed true to his aloof self. ‘He was never much good at connecting with his own people,’ said Raenette Taljaard, the director of the Helen Suzman Foundation, a pro-democracy think tank in Johannesburg.”
In June 2013, the Daily Maverick published an article by Ranjeni Munusamy entitled “Zuma, Mbeki, and the shifting sands of public perception”, in which she wrote:
“Once upon a time, people detested their president (Thabo Mbeki), believing he was too aloof, too disconnected, too scholarly, too proud to admit his mistakes and impervious of criticism.”
In January 2014, the Financial Mail carried an article by Justice Malala in which he wrote; “Remember when people said all those nasty things about Thabo Mbeki – “aloof, educated, too much Shakespeare, old chap” …”
With regard to the ANC, the first point I would like to make is that (i) the National Office Bearers (NOBs) met at least every Monday, (ii) the NWC met at least every fortnight, and (iii) the NEC met at least every quarter. I regularly attended all these meetings as President of the ANC, never standing aloof from the ANC leadership.
Further, one of the decisions we took in the NWC to help ensure that we maintain closer contact with the ANC membership was to hold our meetings in the Provinces, spending two days in each Province.
We would divide the NWC members into small delegations, in which I participated, each of which would spend the first day in one of the Regions in the Province, to familiarise itself with the state of organisation at this lower level. On the second day the delegations would then report to the NWC as a whole, which thus gained a more detailed understanding of ANC affairs in the Province concerned.
Further, the participation of ANC Provincial Chairs and Secretaries and the Chairs and Secretaries of the Women’s and Youth Leagues in the NEC, meant that our national leadership was regularly informed of developments and views in the Provinces and the Leagues.
On various occasions the ANC National Office Bearers, the NWC or other NEC delegations would have to engage some of our Provinces to help find solutions to the then extant problems. The President of the ANC would be involved in these initiatives.
Even when, as President of the Republic, I ceased to be a Member of Parliament, I continued periodically to attend the meetings of the ANC Parliamentary Caucus.
At Government level, we instituted the “Presidential Izimbizo Process”. This resulted in our holding many meetings with both urban and rural local communities, in which as many people as possible spoke directly to the President to communicate whatever they considered important.
By the time I left Government we were very concerned about the security challenges posed by the increasingly enormous size of these local Izimbizo which derived from their popularity. Our concern arose from the fact that it was proving impossible to allow time for everybody who queued to speak actually to reach the microphones and address the President, which, we feared, might result in conflict.
Nevertheless we always took the necessary action to respond to what had been raised at these Izimbizo, covering all three spheres of Government.
To ensure that the National Government remained exposed to the thinking of our country’s broad leadership, we established a number of standing Presidential Working Groups, during all of which I, as President of the Republic, would lead a Ministerial groups which would engage the leadership delegation in each Working Group.
The Working Groups were made up of leaders in each of these areas, constituting (i) the women, (ii) the youth, (iii) the trade unions, (iv) big business, (v) black business, (vi) agriculture, (vii) the religious communities, and (viii) academia.
The relevant Ministries would then assume the responsibility to cooperate with the appointed representatives of each of these sectors to follow up on relevant matters that had been raised at these Presidential Working Group meetings.
It is also important to understand that, of course, in addition to the instances I have mentioned relating to the ANC and Government, there were also other countless instances during which I interacted with ANC members and structures and the South African population in general, at all times ready to listen and engage.
Thus I have never been able to answer the question – from whom and what was I ‘aloof’?
Shortly before our 2004 General Election, the 9 April 2004 edition of the UK newspaper, The Guardian, published an article by Rory Carroll which, among other things, said:
“In recent weeks (during the election campaign, Thabo Mbeki) … has reinvented his public persona by playing with children and dancing, an astonishing departure which has won rave reviews, but for a decade, as Nelson Mandela’s Deputy and then as President, he abhorred the common touch. Give him an opportunity to empathise with the poor and sick and he would retreat into technocratic jargon. Give him a baby and he would plop it into the nearest lap.”
Thus did Rory Carroll, years ahead of the 2007 ANC Polokwane Conference, provide a simple answer about what I would have to do to shed the deadly image of being ‘the aloof’, and thus win ANC elections and popular approval – display the common touch, play with children, dance, cry publicly for the poor and the sick, and kiss babies, all this in front of the television cameras!
But of greater significance in terms of the future of our country was neither an alleged aloofness nor what a British journalist thought. Much more relevant were the views expressed by a leading South African journalist, Ms Karima Brown, who clearly sought to convince all who would listen that – Mbeki must go!
As early as August 2006 she had written that my “sell-by date” was ‘stapled on (my) back’. She even thought that what might happen would be that I might face “the ignominy of an investigation … (being) the focus, or the centre, of a new criminal probe into the arms deal … Is it any wonder then that the smart (ANC) MPs are beginning to look at life beyond Mbeki? … The writing is on the wall.”
In November 2007 she went on to write, “In the hurly-burly of the ANC succession battle, the question still needs to be asked, let alone be answered, why it is that the ruling party is willing to countenance the perpetuation of Mbeki’s rule beyond its natural and constitutional end-date, all because of the false obsession of “legacy”.
“After all, with the “benefit” of the past eight years of Mbeki’s rule to look back on, it does not appear that the legacy – creditable macroeconomic management peppered with a dangerously pathological denialism – is worth preserving …
“It is a bitter irony of African politics that our leaders stay in office beyond their welcome, so that they may fix problems that are wholly of their own creation. Johnson diagnoses it perfectly (remember he gets to be right twice in a 24-hour cycle): “We are at a crossroads where the central possibility is the indefinite extension of one-man rule by a paranoiac. In a word, Mugabeism.” …
“It is of course nearly impossible to love Mbeki. Not in the way one can love Mandela, or even, for that matter, Zuma. “Let me have men about me that are fat, sleek-headed men, and such as sleep a’ night,” said Caesar to Mark Anthony. “Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look. He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous.”
Writing five years later in October 2012, Zweli Mkhize, the current Treasurer General of the ANC, commended Ms Karima Brown for her reporting ahead of that year’s Mangaung ANC National Conference and said:
“Very few journalists are confident to find a positive side of this very important conference of the ANC. Journalist Karima Brown seems to have been one of the few brave ones to buck the trend. Her recent article in the Sunday Independent about the trends in the ANC structures is correct but under the atmosphere, it swims against the dominant trend in most media.”
As Zweli Mkhize had correctly stated concerning Ms Brown’s reports about the 2012 ANC National Conference, history suggests that she was also very accurate in foreseeing that her wishes would be fulfilled at the 2007 ANC National Conference.
In this regard, she obviously had the correct understanding of the impact the sustained charge of aloofness, and other similar negative assessments of the then President of the ANC, would have on the delegates gathered at the 2007 Polokwane Conference.
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The debates about transformation on our university campuses, the cost of tertiary education and the hegemony of Afrikaans are still far from over.
A striking new documentary has been released by the African Noise Foundation which shines a new light on the lived reality Stellenbosch students that gave rise to the controversial Open Stellenbosch movement.
One thing that I’ve learned in term of how to survive in Stellenbosch as a black person is you have to die. You have to die to live. All those things that you … The space asks of you, and forcefully so … that this is not your place. Your sense of being from wherever you come from doesn’t have a place here. So you kill that person, then during the holidays when you go home by bus or on the plane at the airport to switch on that person, resurrect him.
Take some time to watch Opening Stellenbosch: From Assimilation to Occupation and share your thoughts with us in the comment section below, on Twitter or on Facebook:
Here are some books to consider after watching this documentary, feel free to add to our list:
- African Leaders of the Twentieth Century: Biko, Selassie, Lumumba, Sankara by Lindy Wilson, Bereket Habte Selassie, Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja, Ernest Harsch
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- The Struggle for the Soul of a South African University: The University of KwaZulu-Natal, academic freedom, corporatisation and transformation by Nithaya Chetty, Christopher Merrett
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ITCH, the Wits University journal of creative expression, has made a call for submissions for their next issue.
ITCH is an online periodical for experimental creative work by emerging and established writers and artists working in a wide variety of media. It is curated and managed by the Wits School of Literature, Language and Media in the Faculty of Humanities and is open to all: anyone can submit work, and all work is considered with equal attention and weight by the editorial board.
The next issue will be the 16th and the chosen theme is “vivid”. Read the press release below to understand what is meant by that and to learn how you can submit your writing to be considered for ITCH:
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What is it that is most vivid to you? Is it a thought, a memory, a worry, or a dream?
Speak of vivid childhood memories when in truth those snapshots of our distant life can be no more than fading Polaroids in our heads… and yet their vividness seems to come from somewhere else: our perception perhaps, something intangible, the ache of home; the gentility of touch; the senses at their most inchoate and brutal.
The vivid need not be purely sensual: taken more literally or in line with its etymology, it can also refer to that which is full of life, urgent, fresh and spirited. It can insinuate something that inherits and reinterprets light; the source of radiance.
In short, the vivid evokes energy – but energy can destroy as much as it creates. Perhaps, in spite of its implied brilliance, the vivid can be a harbinger of darker things, the juggernaut hurtling through the night that heralds change and disorder.
Let us know what ‘vivid’ inspires in you: is it something to cherish or celebrate, or to fear and monitor?
The theme really is open to as broad an interpretation as possible – we welcome and await your ideas and thoughts with vivid anticipation…
Those interested in contributing to Itch 16 have until Monday 7 March 2016 to submit their work.
Submissions can be made by visiting www.itchmagazine.org.
A few pointers when uploading your submission:
SAVING YOUR SUBMISSION:
When you are happy with your submission, click on the SUBMIT YOUR ITEM button on the top right hand-side of the editing page, your page will refresh, once refreshed click the CLOSE button which you will find to the right of the SUBMIT YOUR ITEM button, once closed you should see a blue bar at the top of the page with a notification saying ‘item saved’. Your submission will now be saved and go through for review.
USING THE ONLINE HELP PAGES:
Visit the online help pages here
or go to one of the help pages below:
Deadline for submissions: Monday 7 March 2016
More details on our submissions page at www.itch.co.za/submit-an-article
Contributors will have to register and log in to submit work. Please do not email your submission – you will be able to upload it at the interface at the above web address.
With any queries, please contact: email@example.com
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2015 marked the passing of some of the greatest literary giants of our time.
Worldwide readers mourned the death of André Brink, Terry Pratchett and Jackie Collins, who led the charge for decades in their respective genres.
We also said goodbye to Zimbabwean writer, poet and essayist Chenjerai Hove; adventurer Mike Lundy; the most-read author in Afrikaans, Ena Murray; beloved Afrikaans poet TT Cloete; Exclusive Books founder Philip Joseph; the first South African to grace the cover of Vogue, Nelle Dreyer; and advocate for Afrikaans Pieter Kapp.
More recently we also said goodbye to Lauretta Ngcobo, Chris Barnard and Mark Behr, whose contributions to literature were unsurpassable.
The international community mourned the loss of Assia Djebar, Günter Wilhelm Grass, Hans van de Waarsenburg, Stephen Ellis and Henning Mankell.
Here is a roundup of the articles Books LIVE published following the news of their passing:
Celebrated novelist André Brink passed away in February, at the age of 79.
Brink passed away while returning from Belgium, where he had been awarded an honorary doctorate from the Belgian Francophone Université catholique de Louvain (UCL).
Brink was born on 29 May, 1935, in Vrede in the Free State. He matriculated in 1952 at the Lyndenburg High School, becoming only the second student in the then-Transvaal to achieve seven distinctions. He earned a BA at Potchefstroom University, and MA degrees in English (1958) and Afrikaans (1959), which he was awarded cum laude.
Memories of Andre Brink
Andre Brink: Literary Giant, Social Activist and Teacher
A Giant of Literature: Mongane Wally Serote Pays Tribute to Andre Brink
Mmusi Maimane Remembers Andre Brink’s Legacy During the Debate on the State of the Nation
A Collection of Writing on Andre Brink: “The Restless Conscience of His People”
“Andre Brink is Not Dead” – Breyten Breytenbach’s Emotive Tribute from the Public Memorial at UCT
“Barkis is Willin’”: Andre Brink, 1935-2015
21 Quotations to Remember Andre Brink, Who Would Have Turned 80 Today
Assia Djebar, the celebrated Algerian novelist, passed away in February.
Djebar, whose real name was Fatima Zohra Imalayène, wrote in French and was often mentioned as a contender for Nobel Prize. She won many prestigious prizes, including the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 2000. Women of Algiers in Their Apartment and The Tongue’s Blood Does Not Run Dry: Algerian Stories are among her works that have been translated into English.
Djebar was commended as a “great intellectual” by French President François Hollande and was acclaimed for her exploration of the lives of Muslim women in fiction. She was also notable for her work as a filmmaker, historian and academic.
The English fantasy author Terry Pratchett died in March, aged 66.
Pratchett had been battling Alzheimer’s disease.
Larry Finlay, MD of Transworld Publishers, told The Telegraph: “Terry faced his Alzheimer’s disease (an ‘embuggerance’, as he called it) publicly and bravely. Over the last few years, it was his writing that sustained him. His legacy will endure for decades to come.”
Pratchett is best known for the Discworld series, which began in 1983 with The Colour of Magic and now contains around 40 books. He was incredibly prolific, writing about two books a year, and sold over 70 million copies during his lifetime, in 37 languages.
Nobel Prize-winning German author Günter Wilhelm Grass died in April at the age of 87.
Grass was born in the Free City of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland). He served as a soldier in the Nazi Waffen SS during World War II – a fact he did not reveal until 2006 – and was captured by US forces and released in April 1946. After the war he worked in a mine and then trained as a stonemason, becoming a sculptor. He only began writing in the 1950s.
Grass – who excelled in every artistic form he attempted, including poetry, drama and graphic art – is best known to English-language readers for his first novel, The Tin Drum, which was published in 1959. The book is considered a key text in European magic realism, and was the first of Grass’ Danzig Trilogy.
Mike Lundy, one of South Africa’s most avid and best-loved adventurers, passed away in May.
Lundy – author of Best Walks in the Cape Peninsula, Easy Walks in the Cape Peninsula and Weekend Trails in the Western Cape among others – was a household name in South Africa with several books and over 200 articles published on hiking.
Lundy was a regular contributor to the press and radio and a tour guide for Table Mountain National Parks. His exceptional service to the hiking community has been recognised with a merit award from the Hiking Federation of South Africa.
Suid-Afrika se gunsteling liefdesverhaalskrywer, Ena Murray, is in Junie op die ouderdom van 78 oorlede.
Murray was die middelste kind van ’n geneesheer en boorling van die Noord-Kaapse Karoodorpie, Loxton. Haar verhale het dikwels in hospitale afgespeel en die skrywer het noukeurige navorsing gedoen voor sy ’n nuwe roman aangepak het.
Murray het in die vyftigerjare op die tere ouderdom van 14 haar pen opgetel en haar eerste roman, Lisé is in 1960 gepubliseer. Sy het sedertdien meer as 130 boeke op haar kerfstok laat beland.
Vaarwel Ena Murray, die mees gelese skrywer in Afrikaans (1936 – 2015)
Veelbekroonde Nederlandse digter Hans van de Waarsenburg is in Junie op die ouderdom van 71 oorlede na ’n kort siekbed.
Die voormalige voorsitter van PEN Nederland (1997 – 2000) was verlede jaar een van die internasionale besoekers aan die Dansende Digtersfees te Spier waar hy feesgangers met sy merkwaardige poësie bekoor het.
“Sy entoesiastiese meelewing en ondersteuning van alles wat met die digkuns te make het, is iets wat ‘n mens nooit sal vergeet nie. Gewis is die digkuns soveel armer met sy heengaan …” skryf Versindaba in hul huldeblyk.
Award-winning Zimbabwean writer, poet and essayist Chenjerai Hove died in July in Norway at the age of 59.
Hove was born on 9 February, 1956 in Mazvihwa near Zvishavane, and attended Kutama Mission and Marist Brothers Dete schools before studying at the University of South Africa and the University of Zimbabwe.
Hove was an outspoken critic of Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe, and left his home country in 2001 under self-imposed exile.
Die geliefde Afrikaanse digter, Theunis Theodorus Cloete, is in Julie vanjaar in die Mooimed-hospitaal op Potchefstroom aan natuurlike oorsake oorlede. Cloete het op 31 Mei sy 91ste verjaarsdag gevier.
’n Woordvoerder van die Noordwes-Universiteit se Potchefstroom-kampus, waaraan Cloete lank verbonde was, het aan OFM vertel dat die digter op Sondagoggend in die hospitaal opgeneem is.
Johan van Zyl het gesê: “Die hele Suid-Afrika, waaronder die universiteit en die skrywersgemeenskap, sal sekerlik Prof TT Cloete se afsterwe betreur.”
Professer Stephen Ellis passed away in July after a battle with leukemia.
Ellis was the author of a number of books including External Mission, a meticulously researched book into the secrecy of the ANC in exile published by Jonathan Ball Publishers in 2012.
External Mission won the 2013 Recht Malan Prize at the Media24 Literary Awards.
Ellis was also the Desmond Tutu professor in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and a senior researcher at the Afrika Studiecentrum in Leiden.
Jackie Collins, known as the “queen of the bonkbuster” and “Hollywood’s own Marcel Proust”, passed away in September at the age of 77 after a six-year battle with breast cancer.
In her novels, Collins shared an insider’s view to lives of celebrities, writing about the glitz and glam of Hollywood’s elite. Whether or not you have read any of her work, you are sure to know at least one person who has.
In a frank interview with Marie Claire, Collins explained why so many women relate to her books: “They know that I’m writing the real truth. I do live in Hollywood. I’m disguising the people’s identities, but [readers] love to play the guessing game. They also love the strong women that I write about. And I write incredibly sexy, strong men, too; usually a bad boy who’s waiting to be reformed by the right woman.”
Swedish crime writer Henning Mankell, who had strong ties to Africa, passed away in October at the age of 67.
The author announced that he had cancer early in 2014, and chronicled his battle with the disease in a newspaper column.
Mankell, who was born in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1948, is most famous for his Kurt Wallander novels, which have been translated into more than 40 languages and have sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.
Philip Joseph (pictured centre), the founder of Exclusive Books, which grew from a single shop in Johannesburg to the leading bookstore chain in South Africa, passed away at the age of 94.
He and his wife Pamela started the first Exclusive Books as a second-hand bookshop in King George Street, Johannesburg in 1951. The chain now runs close to 50 stores, including one in Botswana.
In 1954, the Josephs opened a new Exclusive Books in Kotze Street, Hillbrow, Johannseburg, selling second-hand and antiquarian books, as well as new titles. On New Year’s Day 1955, the national publicity from a “spectacular explosion” in a nearby store shot the fledgling bookshop to fame.
Nelle Dreyer, wie se outobiografie Voorbladnooi: Van Pleinstraat tot Parys in 2011 by Protea Boekhuis verskyn het, is in Oktober oorlede.
Johan Liebenberg en Louis Jansen van Vuuren, jarelange vriende van Dreyer, het op LitNet hulde gebring aan die voormalige supermodel – die eerste Suid-Afrikaanse model wat op Vogue se voorblad verskyn het. “Sy is dierbaar, vrygewig, snaaks, eerlik en lojaal. Nelle is soos ’n suster vir my en ons kon oor enigiets en alles gesels. En lag,” skryf Jansen van Vuuren.
Izak de Vries het ook aan Dreyer hulde gebring met ’n fotoartikel, ook op LitNet. Hy skryf: “Die mens agter die boek was net so warm, eerlik en reguit soos die mens in die boek. Passievol. Briljant. Nederig, al het sy presies geweet wat sy wil hê. Natuurlik ook: Pragtig. Beeldskoon, steeds laat in haar lewe.”
Novelist and essayist Lauretta Ngcobo passed away in Johannesburg in November.
The sad news was confirmed to Books LIVE by Ngcobo’s publisher, UKZN Press.
Ngcobo was born in 1931 in Ixopo in KwaZulu-Natal, and later attended Fort Hare University.
Ngcobo was at the forefront of the women’s anti-pass marches in 1956, and was well known for her feminist writings throughout the 1950s and 60s – being critical both of apartheid and of Zulu traditions that restricted women’s freedom – although her work was first published in the 1980s.
“There’s a Fountain of Knowledge that Comes through Reading” – Remembering Lauretta Ngcobo
Mam’ uNgcobo, A Woman of Power: Minister of Arts and Culture Pays Tribute to Lauretta Ngcobo
Gracious, Witty and Persuasive: UKZN Press Mourns the Passing of Lauretta Ngcobo
Dan Moshenberg Salutes Lauretta Ngcobo: “A Fierce and Ferocious (and Often Very Funny) Feminist”
Author Mark Behr passed away in Johannesburg in November, at the age of 52, of a heart attack.
Behr was born in Tanzania in 1963, and grew up in South Africa. His first published novel, The Smell of Apples (1995), appeared first in Afrikaans in 1993 as Die Reuk van Appels, winning the Eugène Marais Prize, the M-Net Award, the CNA Literary Debut Award and The Art Seidenbaum Award from the Los Angeles Times.
The success of the novel compelled Behr to speak publicly about his history as a campus spy for the South African security establishment. In 1996, at a writer’s conference in Cape Town titled “Fault Lines – Inquiries Around Truth and Reconciliation”, he addressed what he called his “betrayal”.
Pieter Kapp, geliefde akademikus en emeritus-professor in Geskiedenis aan die Universiteit Stellenbosch, is in Desember op die ouderdom van 76 in Somerset-Wes oorlede.
Kapp se belangrike bydrae tot die taaldebat op Stellenbosch, Maties en Afrikaans, het verlede jaar by Protea Boekhuis verskyn. In hierdie boek het die geskiedkundige die verhaal van Afrikaans op Stellenbosch opgeteken en indringende vrae gevra oor die manier waarop die taalkwessie in die toekoms hanteer behoort te word.
Tydens ’n gesprek met Jacques du Preez by die US Woordfees 2014 het Kapp sy beweegrede vir die skryf van Maties en Afrikaans as volg opgesom: “Jy kan nie Afrikaans verstaan as jy nie Stellenbosch verstaan nie en jy kan nie Stellenbosch verstaan as jy nie Afrikaans verstaan nie.”
Afrikaans author and dramatist Chris Barnard died of a heart attack this week at the age of 76.
Barnard was born in Nelspruit in 1939. He matriculated in 1957 and completed a BA degree in 1960 at the University of Pretoria. He worked as a journalist for 17 years and as a scriptwriter and film producer between 1978 and 1994. He began farming macadamias in the Lowveld in 1995.
Barnard was one of the most important Sestigers, mainly because of his great versatility. He wrote novels, novellas, columns, youth novels, short stories, plays, radio dramas, essays, film scripts and television dramas. Barnard published over 30 books and received several literary awards, including a brace of Hertzog Prizes, and translated Chinua Achebe and Ernest Hemingway into Afrikaans.
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“If music be the food of love, play on”
Shakespeare hit the nail on the head when he called music the food of love. It’s also the food of revolution, good times, and of many, many things essential to life itself.
Music is a medium of reaching and representing the psychology, sociology and politics of the human experience, and so is literature. It’s no surprise, then, that the two spheres interact.
Here is a list of 10 books by and about musicians. There are memoirs by music legends, novels and essays by multi-talented artists, a catalogue of indigenous music as well as one book by an author whose work was sampled in a Grammy Award-winning album.
Here’s the list, in no particular order:
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“I Don’t Bite My Tongue in this Book” – Hugh Masekela Signs with Jacana for the Local Release of His “Lost” Memoir
Jazz legend Hugh Masekela visited in the Jacana Media offices in July to sign the contract for the local publication of his memoir, Still Grazing, which came out internationally in 2004 but was never released in South Africa.
Masekela said he believes South African society has become complacent since the time of Steve Biko and other young intellectuals of the apartheid era, and hopes that his book can stand as an example of the forthrightness needed to turn the country around.
Eusebius McKaiser Fires 5 Questions at Kabelo Mabalane at the Launch of I Ran For My Life
“This book is absolutely amazing, incredibly honest.”
With these words Eusebius McKaiser opened the launch of I Ran For My Life: My Story by Kabelo Mabalane at Exclusive Books Rosebank.
McKaiser grilled the author about the five main themes in his book: Mabalane’s complicated relationship with his father, the importance of education in his household, music (as a last resort after his dream of a rugby career!), drinking and drug abuse and the crux of the story – how running saved his life from ruin.
“I Wanted People to Hate Me!” – Nakhane Toure Chats about Killing off His Characters at the Open Book Festival
Nakhane Touré and his publisher Thabiso Mahlape chatted to Mervyn Sloman about Touré’s new novel, Piggy Boy’s Blues, at the Open Book Festival in Cape Town in September.
Piggy Boy’s Blues is the first novel to be published under Jacana Media’s new imprint BlackBird Books, which, as Mahlape explained, will focus on black writers and black stories.
“I have got questions from a lot of people asking, ‘Why only black narratives?’,” Mahlape said, “but, as I said to a journalist from the Financial Times in New York, I don’t think that’s a valid question. But that article never saw the light of day.
Unearthing the Mystery of Rodriguez – Craig Bartholomew Strydom and Stephen Segerman Launch Sugar Man
The popular La Parada was humming when a crowd of Sugar Man fans arrived to celebrate the launch of Sugar Man: The Life, Death and Resurrection of Sixto Rodriguez by Craig Bartholomew Strydom and Stephen “Sugar” Segerman in October.
One of the many fans in attendance was Steve Connolly, managing director of Penguin Random House South Africa. He could barely contain his delight as he introduced the two authors to the audience and spoke enthusiastically about the decision to turn the movie into a book, an inversion of the usual process which sees the book written first and later turned into a movie.
Ver in die wêreld, sushi: Koos Kombuis se kritiese stem klink op in sy jongste rubriekversameling
Kombuis vier vanjaar sy sestigste verjaardag, en hoewel dié musiek- en skrywerslegende ietwat ouer en wyser geword het, is sy kommentaar op sosiale en politieke sake nog net so skerpsinnig soos altyd.
In sy jongste rubriekeversameling kom ’n verskeidenheid onderwerpe onder die soeklig, soos die stommiteite van politici, die irrasionele vrese van Afrikaners wat nog in die laer skuil, die sensitiewe ego’s van plaaslike musikante, en die wanstaltigheid van amptenare wat die banaalste vorme van burokrasie in stand hou.
Alles wat jy wil weet oor die man met die groot pet in Jack Parow – Die ou met die snor by die bar
In Die ou met die snor by die bar vertel die superster-rapper Jack Parow van sy lewe en al sy wilde, mal avonture.
Die storie begin agter die Boereworsgordyn en maak draaie in plekke soos Onrusrivier, The Lollipop Lounge in Randburg, Mitchells Plain, België, Nederland, Londen, Los Angeles, Hollywood en Moskou.
Drums, Rattles and Mbiras at the Launch of Musical Instruments of the Indigenous People of South Africa
The launch of the third edition of the iconic Musical Instruments of the Indigenous People of South Africa by Percival Kirby was a tremendous celebration. Leading academics and performing musicians gathered in in the foyer of the Strubenholm Building at the South African College of Music to discuss the importance of this new edition. Guests were invited to browse through The Kirby Collection, which houses 600 of the utterly remarkable instruments featured in revised edition of this classic text.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Nominated for Grammy, for Her Contribution to Beyonce’s Latest Album
Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has been nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Album, for her contribution to Beyoncé Knowles’ 2013 album, Beyoncé.
Beyoncé released the album without warning in December 2013, and it included a track called “***Flawless”, which samples a talk given by Adichie earlier that year at TEDxEuston entitled “We Should All Be Feminists”.
Lees oor die bekendstellings van Kleur – My lewe, my lied deur Randall Wicomb en Amos van der Merwe
Kleur – My lewe, my lied – die biografie van die geliefde Griekwa Psalms-sanger en liedjieskrywer Randall Wicomb, soos vertel aan Amos van der Merwe – is in Oktober tydens die Aardklop-kunstefees in Potchefstroom bekendgestel.
Die gehoor het aan Wicomb se lippe gehang, skryf Charlea Sieberhagen vir Netwerk24. Hy het onder meer vertel waarom kleur in die titel verskyn en meer gedeel oor sy stryd teen prostaatkanker.
“A Hallucinogenic Post-apocalyptic Carnival Ride” – Nikhil Singh’s Debut Novel Taty Went West Launched at Kwani? Litfest
Cape-Town based musician and artist Nikhil Singh’s debut novel Taty Went West was launched as part of the 2015 Kwani? Litfest, which took place in Nairobi, Kenya from 1 to 6 December.
Taty Went West, which was longlisted for the 2013 Kwani? Manuscript Project, is described by Lauren Beukes as “a hallucinogenic post-apocalyptic carnival ride”.
Image courtesy of thecreatorsproject.vice.com
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1. See who won the 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards
The Goodreads Choice Awards are the only major book awards decided by readers. Many of this year’s winners come as no surprise, with Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchmen voted Fiction book of the year and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins winning the title Best Mystery & Thriller. Other winners include Neil Gaiman, Connor Franta, Pierce Brown, Aziz Ansari, Mindy Kaling and Jennifer Niven.
2. What critics agree are the best books of 2015
From Quartz: “A large number of “Best Books of 2015” lists have now been published—with some comprehensive selections for works in the English language from the New York Times, the Guardian, the Seattle Times, the Boston Globe and more. Quartz sorted through them to find the most acclaimed of the best—the books that had appeared most frequently on critics’ lists.”
3. See the 2016 PEN Literary Awards Longlists
From PEN America: “PEN is thrilled to announce the longlists for the 2016 PEN Literary Awards. This year’s awards will confer over $200,000 to some of the best writers and translators published this year. Spanning fiction, nonfiction, poetry, biography, essays, translation, and more, these longlisted books are bound to help you fulfill your gift giving needs in time for the holidays.
The finalists for all book awards will be announced on February 2. The winners for all 2016 awards will be announced on March 1, except those for the awards for Debut Fiction, Art of the Essay, Open Book, Literary Science Writing, and the PEN/Fusion Prize, which will be named live at the 2016 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony on April 11 at The New School in NYC.”
4. The Case of the Disappearing Black Detective Novel
From New Republic: “Recognizing the problem and addressing it accordingly takes work, and time. Yet it is frustrating, even shameful, how few writers of color get through the mystery corridors with a fictional representation of their own experiences. The door opened, briefly, for Hughes Allison. Before editorial neglect slammed it shut, Allison showed, years before Mosley, Himes, or any black detective fiction writer, what it was to live in his character’s skin.”
5. Read an excerpt and see the cover of Joe Hill’s blazing thriller The Fireman
From Entertainment Weekly: “Joe Hill, author of Heart-Shaped Box and Horns, guest editor of the first Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy anthology, and offspring of a little-known writer named Stephen King, will release his new thriller, The Fireman, next May.
The Fireman sees the world suffering a global pandemic — but this isn’t your typical Contagion flu or World War Z zombie disease.”
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As jy van taal hou, en as jy dit geniet om daarmee te kerjakker, maak nie saak wat jou ouderdomsgroep is nie, is hierdie twee nuttige, bondige taalensiklopedieë net vir jou.
Koop en geniet dit.
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Published in the Sunday Times
Sunday Times book reviewers look back at 2015 and name their books of the year.
Ben Williams, Sunday Times books editor
My find of the year is Parker Bilal, which is the name the Anglo-Sudanese author Jamal Majoub uses when he writes crime fiction. His detective hero, Makana – an expat Sudanese living in Cairo who lacks a first name – shines light in dark Cairene places in The Burning Gates (Bloomsbury). And if readers missed Henrietta Rose-Innes’s Green Lion (Umuzi) or Rehana Rossouw’s What Will People Say? (Jacana), they’d best not let 2015 expire without acquainting themselves with these two fine books.
Pleasantville, Attica Locke (Profile Books). A political thriller set in the late ’90s in an affluent African-American town in Texas. Locke makes one nostalgic about the past and hopeless about the future. Modern Romance, Aziz Ansari (Penguin Random House). Funny and filled with info to impress friends over drinks, like the fact that two billion swipes happen on Tinder every day.
The Magistrate of Gower, Claire Robertson, (Umuzi). Subtle, absorbing, affecting. Robertson is in a league of her own. 101 Detectives, Ivan Vladislavic, (Umuzi). Mordantly funny, acutely perceptive and exquisitely styled, this collection of short stories is a definitive showcase of Vladislavic’s talents. From Venice to Istanbul, Rick Stein (Penguin Random House). A glorious mix of recipes, images and anecdotes from the Eastern Mediterranean.
Recipes for Love and Murder: A Tannie Maria Mystery, Sally Andrew (Umuzi). The quintessential feel-good SA whodunit, complete with recipes and advice. A must read.
Adeline, Norah Vincent (Little, Brown). You don’t have to like Virginia Woolf or the Bloomsbury Group to be enthralled by this fictional biography delivered in an elegant pastiche of Woolf’s own style.
Jumani Clark’s short story, “Lift Club”, in the Incredible Journey anthology (Mercury) is fantastic: full of detail that starts off in a familiar place and ends up in the underworld. Let Me Be Frank with You, Richard Ford (Bloomsbury). Ford is vital; self-aware but not self-conscious. Florence and Watson and the Sugarbush Mouse, Dani Bischoff, Rob van Vuuren, illustrated by Lauren Fowler-Kierman. Local, beautiful and meaningful.
Quicksand by Steven Totlz (Hodder & Stoughton). A look at the unbroken catastrophe of a life of one hapless loser; funny, poignant and sizzling with originality. All Involved by Ryan Gattis (Picador,). An LA-set story about an event among Latino gangs during the Rodney King riots. One Midlife Crisis and a Speedo, Darryl Bristow-Bovey (Zebra Press). Moving, funny and clever.
Cat Hellisen turns an old fairytale on its head with Beastkeeper (Henry Holt & Company Inc) and it’s been a hit with my young writers club. Jenny Lawson’s memoir Furiously Happy (Pan Macmillan) is hilarious and contains the best description of mental illness I’ve read. Raj Kamal Jha’s surreal novel She Will Build Him a City (Bloomsbury) is unforgettable in its complexity, ingenuity and beauty.
Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen (Faber Factory Plus, R275). This haunting tale is deserving of its Man Booker 2015 nomination. H is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald (Penguin Random House). I listened to the audio book during my commute by train into Joburg. Macdonald’s speaking voice (she narrates the story) is as beautiful as her literary one.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (Serpent’s Tale). The story leads you to a great philosophical dilemma. Sweet Caress, William Boyd (Bloomsbury). Fiction and nonfiction are intertwined to tell the story of photographer Amory Clay, who covered World War II and the Vietnam War. An inspiring chronicle of a woman in an eventful era. The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan (Random House). A riveting account of Australian prisoners of war in Burma.
Margaret von Klemperer
What Will People Say?, Rehana Rossouw. Rossouw delivers humour, happiness and tragedy in her story of a family’s struggle to survive on the Cape Flats. The Fetch, Finuala Dowling (Kwela). A sparkling comedy of manners, but under the froth there are serious issues, and it is Dowling’s sensitive handling of them that makes this such a lovely book. H is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald. A non-fiction triumph.
Guantánamo Diary, Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Canongate). America’s shameful incarceration of terrorism suspects brought to life. The Magistrate of Gower, Claire Robertson. The Anglo-Boer war and the rise of Afrikaner nationalism appear at the centre of this elegant, finely-filigreed novel.
Tightrope, Simon Mawer (Little, Brown). A spy thriller that delves beyond the easy conventions of the genre. The Thing of Darkness, Harry Bingham (Orion). The disturbed, devious and brilliant Fiona Griffiths is the most fascinating police detective since Lisbeth Salander. The Root of All Evil, Roberto Constantini (Quercus). Set in Italian-controlled Libya on the eve of independence, Constantini’s second novel in the Evil trilogy is a masterful portrayal of guilt and atonement.
Annetjie van Wynegaard
The Raft, Fred Strydom (Umuzi). Strydom blurs genre lines and leaves you with a story that lingers in the back of your mind. Wasted, Mark Winkler (Kwela). There’s a moment in the book that punches you in the gut and makes you realise, wow, this guy can write. One of Us, Åsne Seierstad (Little, Brown). A raw, in-depth account of the massacre that took place in Norway in 2011, when Anders Behring Breivik killed 77 people, 69 of them children.
John Boyne’s agonising novel confronting child abuse in the Irish Catholic Church, A History of Loneliness (Black Swan), was mesmerising. Simon Mawer’s The Girl Who Fell from the Sky (Little, Brown) and its sequel Tightrope would challenge even le Carré.
The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B, Teresa Toten (Walker Books). My young adult read of the year. It is written with a warmth, compassion and sincerity that are rare in any genre. The Fetch, Finuala Dowling. Comparisons with Jane Austen are not misplaced. Green Lion, Henrietta Rose-Innes. Rose-Innes goes from strength to strength, refining her craft with each new book.
Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life, Jonathan Bate (William Collins Publishing). A rigorous examination of a poet whose life attracted more scandal than any other English poet since Lord Byron. John le Carré: The Biography, Adam Sisman (Bloomsbury). David Cornwell, aka le Carré, emerges as elliptical, brilliant and fundamentally humane. Reunion, Fred Uhlman (The Harvill Press). I haven’t been so moved by a piece of fiction in ages.
Eugene de Kock, Anemari Jansen (Tafelberg). A gripping reminder of how twisted apartheid was and how deeply it affected our society. Another Man’s War, Barnaby Phillips (Oneworld). A fascinating look at the West Africans who fought for Britain against the Japanese in Burma during World War II. An account of an almost forgotten campaign. Jan Smuts: Unafraid of Greatness, Richard Steyn (Jonathan Ball). This is the book to read on Jan Smuts.
The Seed Thief, Jacqui L’Ange (Umuzi). A poetry-infused whirlwind of Southern Hemisphere mysticism and botanical espionage. An understated triumph. Reliquaria, RA Villanueva (University of Nebraska Press). The Filipino-American’s debut collection is the best book of poems I’ve read for a couple years.
Away from the Dead, Karen Jennings (Holland Park Press). This collection of short stories stands out not only because of Jennings’s rich and poignant writing, but also for how she portrayed the chilling realities of those left behind as death lingers and finds its place within us.
What Will People Say?, Rehana Rossouw. I loved this book for its gritty, descriptive language and poignant evocation of life on the Cape Flats. On the Move by Dr Oliver Sacks (Macmillan). A brilliant polymath with consuming enthusiasms and odd eccentricities. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill (Granta Books). The narrator is frazzled by motherhood, the dissolution of her marriage, and her struggles to be a writer.
Trigger Warning, Neil Gaiman (Headline). A strange assortment of stories by one of the world’s greatest fantasists. Three Moments of an Explosion, China Mieville (Del Rey Books). Exquisitely crafted, reflecting the skill of a master of the written word. Vanessa and Her Sister, Priya Parmar (Bloomsbury). A sumptuous read that depicts the tempestuous relationship between sisters Virginia (Woolf) and Vanessa Stephen, who were at the centre of the Bloomsbury Group.
My Fight Your Fight, Ronda Rousey (Century). Rousey, the martial artist cage fighter, shares hard-won lessons in an honest and unapologetic voice. The Art of Asking or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help, Amanda Palmer (Little, Brown). The kind of book I wish I’d read as a teen. Just take the doughnuts! Mrs. Hemingway, Naomi Wood (Picador). The story of the four women who wanted to be Mrs H.
The characters from The Fetch by Finuala Dowling haunted my dreams. The story led me to a garden cottage in the deep south where I kept waiting to happen upon someone like William. Piggy Boy’s Blues, Nakhane Touré (Blackbird). Touré made me feel like I was reading both a familiar and utterly foreign story at the same time.
The Strange Library, Haruki Murakami (Harvill Secker). Any book lover adores that new book smell, but this book will please more than your olfactory senses: it’s a feast for the eyes, too. Illustrated by Suzanne Dean, it is a beauty from cover to cover. The story is just as beautiful, turning an old library into a place of adventure and danger.
Mistborn Trilogy: The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, The Hero of Ages, Brandon Sanderson (Gollanz box set). Sanderson delivers something new — if you like fantasy with minimum violence, excellent world-building and superb character development.
Memoirs of a Born Free: Reflections on the Rainbow Nation, Malaika wa Azania (Jacana). Anyone who read this heartfelt book, whose author was 22 at the time of writing, would not have been surprised by the #RhodesMustFall, #OpenStellenbosch and #FeesMustFall movements. The Book of Forgiving: The fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and our World, Desmond and Mpho Tutu (HarperCollins). Father and daughter use personal stories to fashion a philosophy of forgiveness. Girl at War, Sara Novic (Little, Brown). What is the most authentic perspective from which to look at war? Through the eyes and experiences of a 10-year-old girl caught up in it.
George Monbiot’s treatise on rewilding ourselves and our landscapes, Feral (Penguin), is timeous and evocative. I couldn’t read another book for a month after Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. Trust me: just dive in. Sindiwe Magona makes the political intensely personal in Chasing the Tails of My Father’s Cattle (Seriti sa Sechaba), a magical story of how one family defies both tradition and modernity to take care of their own.
Green Lion, Henrietta Rose-Innes’s fourth book, is masterful. Ivan Vladislavic’s 101 Detectives is witty, enthralling and pleasurably disorientating. But my book of the year is The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma. It’s deceptively simple — although political undertones are there for you if you need them — and wholly engrossing.
H is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald. A captivating meditation on grief. A God in Ruins, Kate Atkinson (Doubleday). The prequel to the wonderful Life After Life, with Atkinson’s unique turn of phrase and unforgettable characters. Vanessa and Her Sister, Priya Parmar. Jealousy, intrigue, madness and sexual awakening characterise this fascinating story of Virginia and Vanessa.
Why You Were Taken, JT Lawrence (PULP Books). Thrilling sci-fi. My Grandmother Sends Her Regards And Apologises, Fredrik Backman (Hodder & Stoughton). The narrative is clever and creative, but its real power is in the way it highlights the importance of story-telling in helping people process grief, dreams, ambition and relationships.
101 Detectives, Ivan Vladislavic. The stories are bewildering in their refusal to provide a clear resolution, but this is to their credit, in that each leaves a mystery to be solved. Homeless Wanderers: Movement and mental illness in the Cape Colony in the Nineteenth Century by Sally Swartz (UCT Press). Swartz’s portrait of lunatic asylums is an interdisciplinary feat. The Good Story: Exchanges on truth, fiction and psychotherapy by JM Coetzee and Arabella Kurtz (Penguin Random House). There is a tension between Coetzee and psychoanalyst Kurtz, which hinges on their differing conceptions of truth.
Robert McLiam Wilson’s Ripley Bogle (Minerva). Ripleyends up wandering the streets of London. It’s Ulysses updated for Thatcher’s UK. Damon Galgut’s Arctic Summer (Umuzi) is a remarkable novel. Galgut has a fine hand when it comes to turning words we see every day into sentences that shimmer.
A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James (Oneworld). Loosely focused around the assassination attempt on Bob Marley in 1976. Earning its author comparisons with everyone from Faulkner to Tarantino, this year’s Man Booker winner gives you faith in the power of literature.
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This is an excellent study of the South African branch of a globalised contemporary religious organisation, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (UCKG).
The author demonstrates, in full, a dedication to the hard core research values of her discipline. This dedication is all the more unflinching and remarkable given her admitted and entirely comprehensible distaste and aversion for her subject and her subjects.
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