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Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category

The shortlists for the 2017 UJ Prize have been announced!

Via the University of Johannesburg

The shortlists for the 2017 University of Johannesburg Prizes for South African writing have been announced.

The prizes are not linked to a specific literary genre. This may make the evaluation more challenging in the sense that a volume of poetry, a novel and a biographical work must be measured against one another, but the idea is to open the prize to as many forms of creative writing as possible.

Approximately 60 works were submitted this year, from which the following books were selected for the shortlist:

Main Prize:

Dancing the Death Drill by Fred Khumalo

Bird-Monk Seding by Lesego Rampolokeng

New Times by Rehana Rossouw

The Inside-Out Man by Fred Strydom

Debut Prize:

Grace by Barbara Boswell

Killing Karoline by Sara-Jayne King

The main prize is R75 000.

The debut prize is R35 000.

A formal prize-giving ceremony will be held at a function later in the year.

The adjudication panel comprised the following judges:

Sikhumbuzo Mngadi (UJ)

Ronit Frenkel (UJ)

Danyela Demir (UJ)

Rebecca Fasselt (UP)

Bridget Grogan (UJ)

Nyasha Mboti (UJ)

Thabo Tsehloane (UJ)

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A Darker Shade of Pale adds to the growing genres of books about the everyday and painful experience of apartheid and racism in SA, writes Donnay Torr

Published in the Sunday Times


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A Darker Shade of Pale: A Memoir of Apartheid South Africa ****
Beryl Crosher-Segers, Torchflame Books, R250

In an entry on her blog, Beryl Crosher-Segers ponders: “I couldn’t get to know white or black South Africans while growing up. But our lives were intertwined in some absurd way. I think absurd is the right word here …”

“Absurd” is the perfect word for the juxtaposition of what reads like a normal childhood – but set within the abnormal strictures of apartheid SA.

At its heart, A Darker Shade of Pale is about family. Beryl was born in Cape Town in 1955, seven years after the National Party imposed the system of apartheid. As the middle child of five, she was a quiet observer. “I was the typical ‘Dear Diary’ girl,” she laughs. “I didn’t speak much until I was about 17. But I wrote things down. I’ve always written things down.”

These early recordings of her life are what make her memoir an engrossing read. It weaves clear and poignant memories together in a straightforward, unsentimental way: of a hard-working survivor of a mother, a dissatisfied revolutionary of a father, the solace of good neighbours and friends, moments of joy, pain at the tragic loss of a brother … And finally, a grown-up Beryl and her young family emigrating to Australia. The things that make up a life. There’s one difference, of course. Beryl and her family were classified as “coloured” under the laws of apartheid SA. This meant separate schools. Forced removals from beloved homes and public spaces. Genial white bakers who called you “hotnotjie”, not “child”. Benches that read “Whites Only”.

A “whites-only” beach. Picture courtesy of Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Getty Images.

 
Beryl is now living in Sydney, Australia, and was named one of the country’s most influential Africans, receiving the Celebrate African-Australia’s Captain’s Award. She’s received a human rights award from the University of Technology in Sydney, participated in the organisation of the 2000 Olympics and has worked for senator Penny Wong, parliamentary leader for the opposition. Despite her success, the humiliation of apartheid still lingers and she shares a vignette that illustrates how the hurt is still there, even decades after leaving SA.

“In 2017, a filmmaker from the Australian Film and Television School made a documentary about my story. We went to visit my mother, she’s 86 now and also living in Australia. I took two of the original ‘Whites Only’ signs from the trains along. My mom would not touch them. She would not look at them. She’s been out of SA for 40 years, she hasn’t seen these signs for that long, but she just wouldn’t …”

Writing the book opened old wounds, but also purged some of the more traumatic experiences Beryl had while growing up, such as the night she and her then-boyfriend, now-husband, Chris, went to the Rhodes Memorial to make out – and witnessed a mixed-race couple being arrested by the cops. The (white) male got to sit in the front of the police van, the (non-white) woman was thrown in the back.

“Chris and I still talk about that night,” says Beryl. “I can still hear the woman’s screams. I wonder what happened to her. Where she is now, if she is still alive. And I wonder what we could have done, if we weren’t so scared and helpless to do anything back then.”

Writing the book has also opened the floodgates for more memories from her friends and family.

“My mother told me something that she’d never mentioned before … She grew up in a suburb called Retreat in Cape Town. She said that one morning, the bridge they’d always had to cross to get to the train station was suddenly off limits to them. It happened overnight. She said, ‘We were herded like cattle down to the railway crossing to walk around and go on to the other side.’ She’d never told me that before. To go from human one day, to not-quite-human the next … She told me this story, and I thought she probably has so many more she hasn’t told me …”

Engaging people with the power of story is the point of this book. “People really need to tell their stories,” says Beryl.

“We need to make it clear that all this is not forgotten. There needs to be dialogue. I think if we can engage and talk about how wrong it was … That’s all we want to hear. Because we, and I’m talking about myself, I live with that. It was an abuse of our human rights.” @SAPixi

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An African refugee finds her struggle is not over once she makes it to the US, writes Margaret von Klemperer

Published in the Sunday Times

Clemantine Wamariya says being reunited with her parents on TV, with no warning, made her feel like the subject of an experiment. Picture: Julia Zave.

 
The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After
****
Clemantine Wamariya and Elizabeth Weil, Hutchinson, R320

Clemantine Wamariya’s story opens in 2006. She was an 18-year-old high-school student in the US and a finalist in an Oprah Winfrey essay competition. As one of the finalists, she set off for the filming of an episode of Oprah’s show on Holocaust survivor and Nobel peace prize winner Elie Wiesel, as her essay was about Wiesel’s book, Night. But Wamariya is also a survivor – in her case, the Rwandan genocide.

Wamariya attended the shoot with her sister, Claire, who, nine years older than the six-year-old Clemantine, had protected her through six horrific years in the refugee camps of seven African countries. By 2006, they knew their parents had also survived, although they had not seen them for 12 years. With no warning, Oprah reunited the family on screen, in front of a worldwide TV audience – and of course there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

Oprah had done an amazing thing, reuniting a family after years of devastation, death and loss. And she had raised awareness of a terrible event. But when I read about it, I could only see it as the commodification of grief and suffering, calculated to load the disengaged watchers with warm fuzzy feelings, but shattering to those to whom it mattered.

The Girl Who Smiled Beads is partly an articulation of what that evening in a television studio meant. Wamariya says she was grateful to Oprah, of course, but goes on: “But I also felt kicked in the stomach, as though my life were some psychologist’s perverse experiment.”

Claire and Clemantine Wamariya on ‘Oprah’.

 
Wamariya tells her story with almost unbearable honesty and a palpable anger as she describes the refugee years with Claire, a survivor who was always on the hustle. In that time Claire had two children who Wamariya made it her mission to keep alive, clean and attractive – because clean, attractive infants score better in the hand-to-mouth refugee existence.

Once the sisters were granted refugee status in the US, Wamariya was taken in by a family who saw to her education so successfully that eventually she was accepted to go to Yale. But her main struggles were never going to be academic: Wamariya had to deal with people who wanted, often from the best of motives, to see her as a kind of “genocide princess”, particularly after Oprah. She tried to live up to that, but boiling away beneath the surface was distrust of people’s motives, learnt in her years trailing around the eastern side of Africa.

Then there was the difficulty of forming a relationship with the family she had been torn from at the age of six. Wamariya is honest about her problems and the loss of a sense of self that came from her horrendous childhood. She writes of her hatred of the word “genocide”, because it is an easy catch-all. Each person caught up in it has their own personal story, a private horror that can become lost in the general.

We all know the compassion fatigue that stories of refugees and their situation can engender. Wamariya lays her experience before us without asking for pity or even understanding, but simply for the time it takes to read her book. And it is well worth every minute.

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“I was surprised by how emotionally exhilarating looking at the past can be,” writes Vusi Thembekwayo of his biography-cum-business manual

Published in the Sunday Times

Vusi Thembekwayo, author of Vusi – Business & Life Lessons From a Black Dragon.
Pic: supplied.

 
There are few endeavours as daunting as writing a book; the idea that you are penning your thoughts, experiences and views for the world to critique and consume.

When the publisher first approached me to do a book on “the life and lessons of Vusi” project, I resisted the idea.

In fact, I rejected it outright, partly because of the idea that my life is just my collective set of experiences but also because I look at my life as a story in the making.

It is “being” every day. Writing about “the life of” seemed very final. But I love the idea that I get to share thoughts that stretch my perspective to colour the lenses of others.

I was inspired by the opportunity to inspire others. There can be no greater gift than the opportunity to inspire others into seeing themselves differently.

I was surprised by how emotionally exhilarating looking at the past can be. Remembering who you once were, parts of yourself that you’d forgotten, lost or minimised in the quest to grow into the person you are today.

As a group, entrepreneurs are notoriously bad at writing long books. We live in a world of instant action, ideation, collaboration and creation. Sprints, not long-winded marathons.

Every day we test, try, fail, and learn only to do it all over again, just a little smarter. Sitting down for an extended period to write or think through your thoughts is not only daunting, it is frankly foreign to our natural disposition.

Conquering this was a test of fortitude and discipline.

The book took two years and almost 100 three-hour sessions with my co-conspirator, Gus Silber, to complete. Every session we had the same set of emotions; deep introspection and reflection, anger at the state of affairs, and sometimes (admittedly seldom) an excited burst of excitement when I came upon a realisation.

I keep several pitbulls and leaving Gus on my outside patio unattended to refill our juice glasses was amusing. He would sit perfectly poised and still until I came back.

Eventually we decided that meeting at my clubhouse was a better bet. Indeed it was. From there we could enjoy the sights of the mountains pointed at Rustenburg. A wondrous and relaxing sight. Perfectly inspiring.

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RIP V.S. Naipaul (17 August 1932 – 11 August 2018)

Via Times Select

By Andrew Donaldson

There has been a flood of tributes and career appraisals following the death at the weekend of VS Naipaul, arguably the greatest and most infuriating figure in post-colonial literature. For more than five decades he gave his readers often searing and withering portraits of societies in the developing world.

That honesty earned him severe criticism – and not just for his particular point of view on the colonialism and post-colonialism so unequivocally detailed in his novels and travel writing. He was just as brutal when it came to his own failings as a man, so much so that his violent behaviour threatened to overwhelm his literary reputation.

He spared his biographer, Patrick French, nothing – so much so that the latter’s The World Is What It Is: The Authorised Biography of VS Naipaul (Vintage, 2009) is a gobsmacking page-turner.

Naipaul was fairly open about the humiliation he caused his first wife, Patricia Hale, and the 20-year affair he conducted with Margaret Gooding, a women he regularly assaulted. When the affair began, his editor Diana Athill rebuked him for his behaviour. He told her: “I am having carnal pleasure for the first time in my life, are you saying I must give it up?”

Pleasure meant degrading Gooding in bed. As Naipaul told French: “I was very violent with her for two days with my hand; my hand began to hurt … She didn’t mind it at all. She thought of it in terms of my passion for her. Her face was bad. She couldn’t appear really in public. My hand was swollen. I was utterly helpless. I have enormous sympathy for people who do strange things out of passion.”

What to read, though, of the 29 books that Naipaul produced? His first collection of short stories, Miguel Street (1959), details the lives of ordinary Trinidadians in a run-down corner of Port of Spain. The novels A House for Mr Biswas (1961), The Mimic Men (1967) and A Bend in the River (1978) are pretty much essential. Of his non-fiction work I recommend The Loss of El Dorado (1969), his India travelogues, An Area of Darkness (1964), India: A Wounded Civilisation (1977) and India: A Million Mutinies Now (1990), Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey (1981) and Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples (1998).

He was particularly scathing about South Africans in The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief (2010). An uncomfortable experience, you could say.

The World is What it Is

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The World is What it Is: The Authorized Biography of VS Naipaul by Patrick French
EAN: 9780330455985
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Miguel Street

Miguel Street by VS Naipaul
EAN: 9780435989545
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A House for Mr Biswas

A House for Mr Biswas by VS Naipaul
EAN: 9780330522892
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The Mimic Men

The Mimic Men by VS Naipaul
EAN: 9780330522922
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A Bend in the River

A Bend in the River by VS Naipaul
EAN: 9780330522991
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The Loss of El Dorado

The Loss of El Dorado by VS Naipaul
EAN: 9780330522847
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An Area of Darkness

An Area of Darkness: His Discovery of India by VS Naipaul
EAN: 9780330522830
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India: A Wounded Civilization

India: A Wounded Civilization by VS Naipaul
EAN: 9780330522717
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India: A Million Mutinies Now

India: A Million Mutinies Now by VS Naipaul
EAN: 9780330519861
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Among the Believers

Among the Believers by VS Naipaul
EAN: 9780330522823
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Beyond Belief

Beyond Belief by VS Naipaul
EAN: 9780330517874
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The Masque of Africa

The Masque of Africa by VS Naipaul
EAN: 9780330472043
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Glen David Gold’s mother has overtaken the field in the Mad Maternal Stakes, writes Michele Magwood

Published in the Sunday Times

Glen David Gold became a successful writer despite his pitiable, maddening mother. Pic: supplied.
 
I Will Be Complete
****
Glen David Gold, Sceptre, R300

In the Flaky Mater Olympics – a hotly contested subsection of memoirs – Glen David Gold’s mother is the new leader. She’s overtaken Jeannette Walls’s mother in The Glass Castle, who was free-spirited to the point of criminal neglect, and has nosed past Augusten Burroughs’s mother who gave him away as a child to her psychiatrist, as he described in his memoir Running With Scissors.

Gold, best known for his bestselling novel Carter Beats the Devil, was born and raised in California as the ’60s swung into the ’70s.

The family was wealthy for a while, living in a vast ranch house in a shiny new suburb, with “a living room conversation pit with hidden television cabinet, executed by contractors who’d worked on the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland”.

His engineer father was proud of his success, showing off his smart modern art and his ethereal British wife who used to be mistaken for the actress Linda Evans.

Gold was an anxious, precocious child who his parents labelled as gifted; so serious that someone commented “that’s not a child, it’s a 36-year-old midget”.

His father’s business tanked and his parents separated when he was 10. His father quickly met and married a much younger woman and moved to Chicago to start a new family. Gold’s mother (she is never named) dreamed of being a novelist but slipped into a life of spiralling failure, starting off with a decadent conman in San Francisco then an abusive fashion designer in New York and a violent, illiterate meth addict who dragged her through various states.

Even when reduced to living in a woman’s shelter she always believed her ship was about to come in. She is a pitiable figure, but a maddening one. The faultline in Gold’s life was the day she went off to New York for a few days and left him in their apartment in San Francisco to fend for himself.

She was gone for months. He was 12 years old.

And fend for himself is what he did, making himself fit in, first at boarding school, then at college, working in a rackety bookstore to make ends meet and trying to fill in the emotional chasms that his adolescence had opened in him. How many times could he rescue his mother? How much longer could he believe she just had bad luck rather than that she was the architect of her own failure?

It would be years of rejections (from both publishers and women) before Gold achieved success with Carter Beats the Devil and he married the novelist Alice Sebold (they have since divorced). It would be years before he could revisit his fractured past with the clear eyes that he does in this superb memoir.

“I’m looking for my mother, or what remains of her,” he writes. “There is not going to be redemption here; nor am I going to indict her as a monster. There is another way to go for those of us who can no longer love our mothers.”

One needs to stay with him through his neuroses and compulsive emotional auditing which slow things down. When he finally reveals, at the end of the book, the faultlines he uncovers in his mother’s own life, it’s like a physical blow. @michelemagwood

Book details
I Will Be Complete by Glen David Gold
EAN: 9781473620179
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Free Woman: Life, Liberation and Doris Lessing a tour de force of biography writing and self-discovery, writes Karina M. Szczurek

Published in the Sunday Times

Doris Lessing, née Taylor, born in 1919. Photographed here in 1958. Picture: Getty Images.

 
Free Woman: Life, Liberation and Doris Lessing
*****
Lara Feigel, Bloomsbury, R540 (hardcover)

“There were too many weddings that summer,” writes Lara Feigel in the opening line of her brilliant and daring Free Woman: Life, Liberation and Doris Lessing. At the end of the first paragraph she promises herself that she “would work out why I minded it all so much”.

The resulting quest is a tour de force of biography writing and self-discovery. Literary scholars are often drawn to topics that are of interest and consequence for their own lives. Yet, even if that spark of private recognition is openly acknowledged, it is seldom explored in the official research.

The inclusion of intimate, personal reflections by the author when writing a biography of someone else is usually frowned upon. And it can be risqué. To do so anyway is heroic.

Feigel is a Reader in Modern Literature and Culture at King’s College London. In her most recent books, The Love-charm of Bombs and The Bitter Taste of Victory, she traced the public and private lives of writers and intellectuals during and after World War 2.

Published to great critical acclaim, they established Feigel as a cultural historian and literary critic of note. Both books are focused on the intersection of life and literature in history.

Free Woman follows in their footsteps, but this time Feigel herself becomes one of the book’s subjects. While exploring Lessing’s work and dedication to, in the words of one of her famous characters, “living as fully as I can”, Feigel searches for what the “right to live fully” would entail in her own life and writing.

“It seemed that Lessing was a writer to discover in your 30s; a writer who wrote about the lives of grown-up women with an honesty and fullness I had not found in any novelist before or since.”

We are mysteries, even to ourselves, and not many have had the ability to penetrate the silences shrouding our lives. In 1931, Virginia Woolf spoke about not having solved the problem of articulating “the truth about my own experience as a body… I doubt that any woman has solved it yet.”

Feigel’s attempt to do just that is fascinating. Facing her own sense of claustrophobia, frustration and lack of fulfilment as a woman, sexual being, wife and mother, Feigel seeks to understand what it means to be a truly “free woman” – most importantly, one “who is also happy”.

The journey she embarks on and the inner truths she discovers about herself through the lens of Lessing’s striking, often contradictory, life demand a lot of courage. And reading Feigel’s account is equally empowering. Outside of her writing, Lessing is remembered for two facts: that she abandoned two of her children and that she had an awkward affair with communism. Feigel goes into the details of both these relationships.

No matter what else can be said about Lessing, there is little doubt that she was bold. She was not afraid to reach for what she felt she required to live a meaningful life as a woman and writer.

“It seems true of all enduring novelists … that they illuminate our lives, and that we live differently as a result of reading them,” Feigel states. Confronting her own body – its realities, longings and failures – as well as the relationships in her life and the need to be her own person, Feigel is just as fearless in trying to define what is crucial in making her own existence worthwhile.

Free Woman is simultaneously an incisive book of scholarship and a brave, liberating memoir. It will not only bring further, highly deserved recognition for its author, but undoubtedly inspire many readers to turn to Lessing’s work, afresh or for the first time. @KarinaMSzczurek

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Free Woman: Life, Liberation and Doris Lessing by Lara Feigel
EAN: 9781635570953
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Becoming Iman: a media personality tells of her religious conversion, before being born again in the light of reason, writes Gillian Anstey

Published in the Sunday Times

Becoming Iman ****
Iman Rappetti, Pan Macmillan, R285

Iman Rappetti an award-winning journalist who has been involved in print, radio and television. She worked as a young journalist in South Africa and then abandoned it (along with all her worldly possessions) when she became Muslim. She lived in the Islamic Republic of Iran for two years, where she also worked on a current affairs TV show for the state broadcaster before returning to South Africa and resuming her life here. Now In her memoir, Iman shares stories and what she has learned from her colourful journey through life. Pic: Moeletsi Mabe. ©Sunday Times.

Iman Rappetti is likable. Convivial, affable, charming – describe it as you wish, she’s all of those and more. She engages with people as if they are the only other being in her universe. Combine that with supreme eloquence and it’s no wonder she is such a hit on TV (she recently left eNCA after 11 years) and her morning radio show on Power FM.

So the idea of Rappetti publishing a memoir is appealing, a chance to find out what helped create her effervescent personality.

Except nothing prepared me for Becoming Iman. Within a few pages, I was gasping with shock, and though that intensity became mild surprise at times and, at others, disbelief tinged with sadness, it also provoked much raucous laughter – all in all, a most satisfying read.

Her publishers were similarly taken aback. Rappetti says when she approached Terry Morris of Pan Macmillan, hopeful she’d be interested in a book compilation of the popular philosophical introductions to her radio show, Morris and her colleague said they made them want to discover more about Rappetti. They knew her career, of course, and “they know my background, a little bit, but they didn’t know (she pauses for a second) My Story. And then afterwards they were like ‘What?’”

It is this “story” that makes Rappetti’s memoir so extraordinary. Though even without its crucial elements, her life has not been mundane. There have been dramas aplenty, such as two siblings appearing from nowhere during the course of her childhood; another she barely knew because he lived with their affluent paternal grandparents; and the father she adored who found the Lord and transformed from an abuser to a loving husband.

Rappetti’s “story” is revealed in her memoir’s title; she literally became Iman. She was born Vanessa, a name her family still uses, and chose Iman, which means “faith” in Arabic, when she became Muslim, which she describes as “the descent into obsessive observance”. She says she was “an extremist Muslim, and for me extreme means following it 100%, not the negativity associated with extremism”.

Her husband, whom she never names, also converted and they followed the same “journey of discovery and adventure” to Iran to study their new religion further, a devotion which often saw her fast for an extra month of Ramadan, “to make up for the years I had lost in unbelief”.

So orthodox, she even shaved off her hair to not have to worry about tendrils escaping from her headscarf. “I wanted nothing to take my eyes off the book that was my oxygen and my reason for living,” she writes.

Rappetti lived like this for about six years. Then she found herself pretending to pray. Feeling suffocated, she writes: “As the laws began to have a material impact on how I was able to live, progress and aspire in society, as I began to live in a lesson, I realised that despite my best hopes, the truth was that I would never be an equal citizen in that construct and that it is the fragility of men it seeks to scaffold and muscularise.”

Today she declares: “I do not believe that God exists, I don’t.” And she is raising her three children without formal religion.

“My children have always grown up in a house where we strive for moral consciousness … for employing our ability to reason. It’s up to them to make the decision whether they want faith one day,” she says.

And her ex-husband? He is a “virulent atheist” also living back in South Africa.

Perhaps her daily inspirational radio message is a type of sermon but she doesn’t believe she has substituted faith with something else. If anything, “it’s the ritual of cooking, the ritual of self-indulgence and of having fun. I always joke and say my true north is joy. So whatever takes us there, if it is a good pot of curry, if it’s horsing around with the kids or eating something delicious or being with people, that’s what I have, if you want to say, replaced things with.”

At the time of her conversion she signed a paper written as a contract, titled “Reasons why you should not drive”. Her turnaround is that she is now a self-confessed speed demon. “Give me a Bugatti Veyron, give me a Lamborghini Aventador, give me a BMW i8 and, by the way, Rolls-Royce have just come out with a brilliant new SUV! Can I please have one of those? Apparently it hauls ass… I love speed, I do. It makes me feel free!”

Becoming Iman

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Open Book Festival announces first group of authors

Via Open Book Festival

Throwback to a panel discussion at Open Book Fest 2016. ©Retha Ferguson

 
The first group of authors has been announced for the eighth Open Book Festival taking place from 5 to 9 September this year.

Brought to you by the Book Lounge and the Fugard Theatre, Open Book Festival offers a world-class selection of book launches, panel discussions, workshops, masterclasses, readings, performances, and more. The festival also hosts the popular Comics Fest, #cocreatePoetica and various children’s and outreach programmes. Venues for the event include the Fugard Theatre, District Six Homecoming Centre, the A4 Arts Foundation, and The Book Lounge in Cape Town, and are all within walking distance of one another. Selected events will also take place outside the city centre, such as at Elsies River Library and Molo Mhlaba School.

Open Book Festival has established itself as one of the most innovative literature festivals in South Africa. It has twice been shortlisted for the London Book Fair Excellence Awards. Last year, nearly 10 000 people attended the festival’s record 140 events, with ticket sales from previous years surpassed in the first two days. Open Book Festival is committed to creating a platform to celebrate South African writers, as well as hosting top international authors. The festival strives to instill a love of reading among young attendees, with the programme designed to engage, entertain and inspire conversations among festival goers long after the event.

“We are once again compiling a phenomenal line up of authors, across a wide range of genres, to join us at the festival,” says Festival Director Mervyn Sloman. “We’ve put together a short preview of some of the authors joining us, to help plan your reading.”

The international authors include:

Author: Lesley Arimah (Nigeria / USA)
Books include: What it Means when a Man Falls from the Sky
Why we’re excited: Lesley has been a finalist for the Caine Prize and a winner of the African Commonwealth Short Story Prize among other honors. She was selected for the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 and her debut collection What it Means when a Man Falls from the Sky won the 2017 Kirkus Prize.

Author: Jonas Bonnier (Sweden) joining us courtesy of the Swedish Embassy
Books include: The Helicopter Heist, Stockholm Odenplan
Why we’re excited: Jonas Bonnier is a novelist, screenwriter and journalist. His latest book, The Helicopter Heist is a gripping suspense thriller about the Västberga helicopter robbery. It has been sold to 34 territories.

Author: David Chariandy (Canada) joining us courtesy of Canada Council of the Arts
Books include: Brother, Soucouyant
Why we’re excited: David Chariandy won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize in 2017 for Brother. The Guardian UK described it as ‘breathtaking…compulsive, brutal and flawless’. David’s debut novel, Soucouyant, received nominations from eleven literary awards juries.

Author: Anna Dahlqvist (Sweden)
Books include: It’s Only Blood
Why we’re excited: Anna Dahlqvist is a leading voice writing about women’s and girls’ rights. She is editor-in-chief of Ottar, a Swedish magazine focusing on sexuality, politics, society and culture.

Author: Nicole Dennis-Benn (Jamaica/USA) with thanks to the University of Stellenbosch for assisting with her joining us
Books include: Here Comes the Sun
Why we’re excited: Her debut novel, Here Comes The Sun, received a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, a NPR Best Books of 2016, an Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Entertainment Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2016, a BuzzFeed Best Literary Debuts of 2016, among others.

Author: Guy Deslisle (Canada) joining us courtesy of Canada Council of the Arts
Books include: Hostage, Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea, Shenzhen: A Travelogue from China, Burma Chronicles, Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City
Why we’re excited: Guy Deslisle is a cartoonist and animator, who is acclaimed for his graphic novels about his travels. His most recent book, Hostage, was longlisted for Brooklyn Public Library’s 2017 literary prize.

Author: Frankie Edozien (Nigeria/USA)
Books include: Lives of Great Men
Why we’re excited: Frankie Edozien is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of AFRrican Magazine. Lives of Great Men was shortlisted for a Lambda Literary Award. The Financial Times called the book ‘a fine contribution to the important work of pursuing equality and social justice on a global scale’

Author: Mariana Enriquez (Argentina) joining us courtesy of the Embassy of Argentina
Books include: Things We Lost in the Fire
Why we’re excited: Stories by Mariana Enriquez have appeared in anthologies of Spain, Mexico, Chile, Bolivia and Germany. The New York Times Book Review called Things We Lost in the Fire, ‘[P]ropulsive and mesmerizing, laced with vivid descriptions of the grotesque…and the darkest humor’.

Author: Aminatta Forna (Scotland/Sierra Leone/USA)
Books include: Happiness, The Hired Man, The Memory of Love.
Why we’re excited: Aminatta Forna’s award-winning work has been translated into eighteen languages. Her essays have appeared in Freeman’s, Granta, The Guardian, LitHub, The Nation, The New York Review of Books, The Observer and Vogue. She has written stories for BBC radio and written and presented television documentaries.

Author: Adam Smyer (USA)
Books include: Knucklehead
Why we’re excited: Adam Smyer’s debut novel Knucklehead is a refreshingly honest, fierce, intelligent, and often hilarious read.

“By setting his novel in the ’90s, Smyer, has crafted some brutal deja vu. As Marcus reflects on Rodney King, the Million Man March and the Oklahoma City bombing, we think of Freddie Gray, Black Lives Matter and school shootings that have become a way of life… Here we are more than 20 years on, and it’s only gotten worse. We should all be furious.” San Francisco Chronicle

Author: Mariko Tamaki (Canada) joining us courtesy of the Canada Council of the Arts
Books include: Skim, Emiko Superstar, This One Summer.
Why we’re excited: Mariko Tamaki is an acclaimed graphic novelist and author. In 2016 she began writing for both Marvel and DC Comics.

“A key objective of Open Book Festival is to celebrate the wealth of South African talent,” says Sloman. “We have a selection of the most insightful minds and compelling storytellers joining us. Here are a few.”

“We are looking forward to The Last Sentence, a psychological thriller and the debut novel from Tumelo Buthelezi and also to welcoming Ijangolet S Ogwang, whose novel An Image in a Mirror, is a richly told African coming-of-age story.”

Clinton Chauke’s Born in Chains: The Diary of an Angry ‘Born Free’ is a story of hope, where, even in a sea of poverty, there are those that refuse to give up and, ultimately, succeed. Journalist Rebecca Davis, author of Best White and Other Anxious Delusions will talk about her new memoir and journey on a spiritual quest.

Sorry, Not Sorry author Haji Dawjee joins us to discuss this revealing experience of moving through post-Apartheid South Africa as a woman of colour. “We are delighted to welcome back Judith February of the Institute for Security Studies, and author Pumla Dineo Gqola, whose book Reflecting Rogue was the best selling title at last year’s Festival,” says Sloman.

Nozizwe Jele has recently released her new novel, The Ones With Purpose. Happiness is a Four-Letter Word was Jele’s debut novel and won the Best First Book category (Africa region) in the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2011, as well as the 2011 M-Net Literary Award in the Film category. Playwright and theatre director Craig Higginson whose novels include The Dream House also joins the line-up to talk about his new novel, The White Room.

Siya Khumalo’s debut memoir, You Have to be Gay to Know God, is a powerful book dealing with gay identity. In Becoming Him, Landa Mabenge explores his own journey that includes being the first transgender man in South Africa to successfully force a medical aid to pay for his surgeries.

The Blessed Girl by Angela Makholwa sees an unraveling of the life that ambitious, social climber Bontle Tau was aiming for. Makholwa’s previous books include Black Widow Society, The 30th Candle and Red Ink. The Gold Diggers is the latest novel by Sue Nyathi (The Polygamist).It is a simultaneously heart-breaking and heart-warming chronicle of immigrant experiences.

Singer-songwriter and author Mohale Mashigo (The Yearning) returns to talk about her new collection, Intruders while in Soweto, Under the Apricot Tree, another festival regular Niq Mhlongo brings the complexities of Soweto to life on the page.

Zuki Wanner’s books include Men of the South which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize Africa Region for Best Book; London – Cape Town – Joburg and children’s book Refilwe. Her recent Hardly Working: A Travel Memoir of Sorts explores the politics of nations, and the ‘burden’ of travelling on an African passport.

SAPS Major General Jeremy Vearey also joins us to talk about Jeremy Vannie Elsies which chronicles his journey of growing up in Elsies River, from rough-and-tumble youngster to the head of the anti-gang unit in the Western Cape. Along the way he mastered the Communist Manifesto in Afrikaans, joined MK, and was sent to Robben Island for his role in the struggle.

The eighth Open Book Festival will take place from 5 to 9 September at the Fugard Theatre, D6 Homecoming Centre, The A4 Arts Foundation and The Book Lounge from 10:00 to 21:00 each day. For further information and the full programme, which will be available in early August, visit www.openbookfestival.co.za

Bookings can be made at Webtickets: www.webtickets.co.za

Open Book Festival is organised in partnership with the Fugard Theatre, The District 6 Museum, The A4 Arts Foundation, The Townhouse Hotel, Novus Holdings, The French Institute, The Canada Council for the Arts, The Embassy of Sweden, The Embassy of Argentina, The Dutch Foundation for Literature, UCT Creative Writing Department, University of Stellenbosch English Department and Central Library and is sponsored by Leopards Leap, Open Society Foundation, Pan Macmillan, NB Publishers, Jonathan Ball and Penguin Random House.

An Image in a Mirror

Book details

 
 
 
Born in Chains

 
 
 
 
 
Best White and Other Anxious Delusions

 
 
 
 

Sorry, Not Sorry

 
 
 
 

Reflecting Rogue

 
 
 
 

The Ones With Purpose

 
 
 
 

The Blessed Girl

 
 
 
 
 
The Gold Diggers

 
 
 
 
 
The Yearning

 
 
 
 
 
Soweto, Under the Apricot Tree

 
 
 
 
Jeremy vannie Elsies


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Make way for great South African Books: Exclusive Books celebrates local books and writing this June with its 2018 Homebru Campaign and free in-store catalogue

Exclusive Books, South Africa’s leading bookseller, celebrates South African authors this June with the launch of its annual Homebru campaign. There are more than 50 books in this year’s Homebru selection, and the languages represented include, in addition to English and Afrikaans, isiZulu, seSotho, isiXhosa and Sepedi.

Homebru 2018 features great fiction, biography, history, politics and current affairs, engaging children’s books, comics for young adults, poetry, cookery and more. Fanatics members earn double points on all titles, and the official 2018 Homebru catalogue is available to all members of the public for free in stores.

The books and authors featured represent a true slice of South African writing and include Mandy Wiener’s fascinating and disturbing Ministry of Crime, Schalk Bezuidenhout’s hilarious Truitjie roer my nie, Mpho Dagada’s inspiring Mr Bitcoin, Refiloe Moahloli’s delightful new children’s book, Tullula, Lukhanyo and Abigail Calata’s sobering memoir My Father Died for This, Nozizwe Cynthia Jele’s fantastic second novel, The Ones with Purpose, and Dudu Busani-Dube’s epic romance Zulu Wedding, among dozens of other titles.

“Without local writers there would be far fewer local readers,” said Ben Williams, GM: Marketing for Exclusive Books. “It’s a great privilege to be able to promote these titles, and Homebru is always one of the most exciting times of the year for those who love great reads.”

Browse the 2018 Homebru selection at Exclusive Books Online:

https://www.exclusivebooks.co.za/page/homebru-2018-great-books-made-in-sa

Exclusive Books is planning more than 30 events during the month of June to showcase its Homebru selection: watch out for invitations to its stores in Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Pietermaritzburg and Bloemfontein. The full list of events will be online here:

http://blog.exclusivebooks.co.za/homebru-events/.

Select Homebru 2018 events:

Gauteng

Mandy Wiener: Ministry of Crime Book Signing
EB Bedford Centre
DATE Saturday, 02 June 2018
TIME 11:00 – 12:00
RSVP email events@exclusivebooks.co.za

Schalk Bezuidenhout: Truitjie roer my nie
EB Rosebank Mall
DATE Tuesday, 05 June 2018
TIME 18:00 vir 18:30
RSVP email events@exclusivebooks.co.za

Vimla Naidoo and Sahm Venter: I remember Nelson Mandela
EB Hyde Park Corner
DATE Wednesday, 06 June 2018
TIME 18:00 for 18:30
RSVP email events@exclusivebooks.co.za

Mpho Dagada: Mr Bitcoin
EB Rosebank Mall
DATE Wednesday, 06 June 2018
TIME 18:00 for 18:30
RSVP email events@exclusivebooks.co.za

Mpho Dagada: Mr Bitcoin
EB Menlyn
DATE Thursday, 07 June 2018
TIME 18:00 for 18:30
RSVP email events@exclusivebooks.co.za

Refiloe Moahloli: Tullula – Children’s Reading
EB Mall of the South
DATE Saturday, 09 June 2018
TIME 10:00 for 10:30
RSVP email events@exclusivebooks.co.za

Lukhanyo and Abigail Calata: My Father Died for This
EB Hyde Park Corner
DATE Tuesday, 12 June 2018
TIME 18:00 for 18:30
RSVP email events@exclusivebooks.co.za

Clinton Chauke: Born in Chains
EB Menlyn Park
DATE Tuesday, 12 June 2018
TIME 18:00 for 18:30
RSVP email events@exclusivebooks.co.za

Nozizwe Cynthia Jele: The Ones with Purpose
EB Rosebank Mall
DATE Wednesday, 13 June 2018
TIME 18:00 for 18:30
RSVP email events@exclusivebooks.co.za

Kwa-Zulu Natal

Dudu Busani-Dube: Zulu Wedding
Bessie Head Library, PMB
DATE Saturday, 02 June 2018
TIME 10:00 – 12:00
RSVP email cheryln@exclusivebooks.co.za

Free State

Marinda van Zyl: Dors
NALN, Bloemfontein
DATE Wednesday, 06 June 2018
TIME 17:30 vir 18:00
RSVP email events@exclusivebooks.co.za

Western Cape

Clinton Chauke: Born in Chains
EB Cavendish Square
DATE Wednesday, 06 June 2018
TIME 18:00 for 18:30
RSVP email events@exclusivebooks.co.za

Joanne Jowell: Winging It
EB Cavendish Square
DATE Thursday, 07 June 2018
TIME 18:00 for 18:30
RSVP email events@exclusivebooks.co.za

Ministry of Crime

Book details

 
 
 

Truitjie roer my nie

 
 
 

Tullula

 
 
 

My Father Died for This

 
 
 

The Ones With Purpose

 
 
 

Zulu Wedding


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