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Archive for the ‘Jonathan Ball’ Category

Sisonke Msimang’s memoir to be released in October!

Jonathan Ball will publish Sisonke Msimang’s memoir, Always Another Country, in October 2017. Msimang is one of the most assured voices commenting on the South African present – often humorously; sometimes deeply movingly.

Jonathan Ball publisher Ester Levinrad is confident that Msimang’s memoirs will find a broad and highly receptive audience: “Once in a while you are fortunate enough to work with a writer who crystallises what makes publishing in South Africa so exciting, telling a personal story that could only have a local genesis, yet with a potential which defies borders. That is Always Another Country, to me – Sisonke’s writing helps me to make sense not only of the country but the world in which we live.”

Msimang writes about her exile childhood in Zambia and Kenya, young adulthood and college years in North America, and return to South Africa in the euphoric 1990s. She reflects candidly on her discontent and disappointment with present-day South Africa but also on her experiences of family, romance, and motherhood, with the novelist’s talent for character and pathos. Her bitter-sweet memoir is at heart a chronicle of a coming-of-age. As literary agent Isobel Dixon said, “while well-known [South African] political figures appear in these pages, it is an intimate story, a testament to family bonds and sisterhood.”

Sisonke Msimang currently lives in Perth, Australia, where she is Programme Director for the Centre for Stories. She is regularly in Johannesburg where she continues to speak and comment on current affairs. Sisonke has degrees from Macalester College, Minnesota and the University of Cape Town, is a Yale World Fellow, an Aspen New Voices Fellow, and was a Ruth First Fellow at the University of the Witwatersrand. She regularly contributes to The Guardian, The Daily Maverick and The New York Times and has given a popular TED Talk which touches on events which appear in her upcoming memoir. Msimang started writing Always Another Country in 2013 as political events in South Africa worsened in the aftermath of the Marikana massacre.

She will be in South Africa to launch the book later in the year.


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Between Two Fires: John Kane-Berman’s account of the political and social changes in SA

John Kane-Berman is uniquely qualified to look back over the enormous political and social changes that have taken place in his lifetime in this fractious country.

In his career as student leader, Rhodes Scholar, newspaperman, independent columnist, speech maker, commentator, and Chief Executive, for thirty years, of the South African Institute of Race Relations, Kane-Berman has been at the coal face of political change in South Africa.

The breadth and depth of ideas and events covered here are striking: the disintegration of apartheid, the chaos of the ‘people’s war’ and its contribution to the broader societal breakdown we see today, the liberal slide-away, the authoritarian ANC with its racial ideology and revolutionary goals, to mention only a few.

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Martin Meredith’s Afrikaner Odyssey delves into the extraordinary life of Deneys Reitz

Afrikaner Odyssey

In the first half of the nineteenth century, southern Africa was a jumble of British colonies, Boer republics and African chiefdoms, a troublesome region of little interest to the outside world. Into this frontier world came the Reitz family, Afrikaner gentry from the Cape, who settled in Bloemfontein and played a key role in the building of the Orange Free State. Frank Reitz, successively chief justice and modernising president of the young republic, went on to serve as State Secretary of the Transvaal Republic. In 1899, he stood shoulder to shoulder with President Paul Kruger to resist Britain’s war of conquest in southern Africa. At the heart of this tale is the extraordinary life of Deneys Reitz, third son of Frank Reitz and Bianca Thesen.

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Afrikaner Odyssey available as eBook

In the first half of the nineteenth century, southern Africa was a jumble of British colonies, Boer republics and African chiefdoms, a troublesome region of little interest to the outside world. Into this frontier world came the Reitz family, Afrikaner gentry from the Cape, who settled in Bloemfontein and played a key role in the building of the Orange Free State. Frank Reitz, successively chief justice and modernising president of the young republic, went on to serve as State Secretary of the Transvaal Republic. In
1899, he stood shoulder to shoulder with President Paul Kruger to resist Britain’s war of conquest in southern Africa.

At the heart of this tale is the extraordinary life of Deneys Reitz, third son of Frank Reitz and Bianca Thesen. The young Reitz’s account of his adventures in the field during the Anglo-Boer War (1899–1902), published as Commando, became a classic of irregular warfare. After a period of exile in Madagascar, he went on become one of South Africa’s most distinguished lawyers, statesmen and soldiers. Martin Meredith interweaves Reitz’s experiences, taken from his unpublished notebooks, with the wider story of Britain’s brutal suppression of Boer resistance.

Concise and readable, Afrikaner Odyssey is a wide- ranging portrait of an aristocratic Afrikaner family whose achievements run like fine thread through these turbulent times, and whose presence is still marked on the South African landscape.

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Cliffhanger: Confessions of a Shock Jock available as eBook

Cliffhanger

From campus radio to host of South Africa’s biggest
youth breakfast show to pioneering his own online
hub, Gareth Cliff has always claimed the headlines with his brand of strong opinion and whiplash wit. He has been suspended from the airwaves or crucified by his critics more times than he can remember – whether
for interviewing himself as Jesus or comparing Shaka
Zulu to Cecil John Rhodes.

Most recently, Cliff was fired by M-Net as one of the Idols judges after facing accusations of racism over the Penny Sparrow incident. He fought back, employing the services of the EFF’s Dali Mpofu, and was reinstated.

In Cliffhanger, South Africa’s controversial shock jock goes behind the scenes to give you a first-hand account of the highs and lows of the past two decades.
This funny but brutally honest account includes:
• The Idols years, including the inside story of his fight to be reinstated earlier this year
• Launching into the unknown – the early years of
CliffCentral
• RIP Manto Tshabalala-Msimang
• Competing to be top shock jock
• ‘Gareth’s Love Child’
• Smooching Julianne Moore in Hollywood
• Almost meeting Justin Bieber

 

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International Women’s Day: seven African woman writers you should have read by 2017

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a universal commemoration of the social, economic, political and cultural achievement of women.

The following quote by Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie encapsulates both the necessity of celebrating a day committed to the empowerment of women, and how writing can aid the continuing empowerment of women worldwide:

“Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign. But stories can also be used to empower, and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people. But stories can also repair that broken dignity.”

Here follows a list of African woman writers whose stories matter:

The Translator

1. Leila Aboulela: Acclaimed – one of the most suitable adjectives to describe Sudanese author Leila Aboulela. She has published five novels in 16 years, wowing literary critics with her debut The Translator, which was nominated for the Orange Prize and chosen as a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times. Her novel second novel, Minaret, also received a nomination for the Orange Prize and her third novel, Lyrics Alley made the longlist for the same prize in 2011. Lyrics Alley was awarded the Fiction Winner of Scottish Book Awards and was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize. In 2000, Aboulela was awarded the coveted Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story The Museum. Aboulela’s work has been translated into 14 languages, and is predominantly influenced by the Muslim faith and her experiences of cross-culturalisation.

Nervous Conditions

2. Tsitsi Dangarembga: Zimbabwean author, poet, activist and filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga was born in Bulawayao and schooled in England. Her debut, the semi-autobiographical Nervous Conditions (1988), is themed around race, colonialism, and gender in post-colonial and present-day Zimbabwe. Nervous Conditions was awarded the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 1989, and is still regarded as a significant contribution to African feminism and post-colonialist narratives. (PS – Dangarembga will be delivering a Women’s Day lecture in Johannesburg on whether feminism is divisive, unAfrican and anti-Black this coming Friday.)

Moxyland

3. Lauren Beukes: When it comes to writing about contemporary sci-fi cum fantasy cum speculative fiction, no one does it quite like Lauren Beukes. With a slew of awards behind her futuristically inclined pen, including the Arthur C. Clarke award for the perennial favourite and much-lauded Zoo City, Beukes has established herself as a South African author to be reckoned with. Her debut novel, the Cape Town-based cyberpunk Moxyland (2008) was nominated for the South African Sunday Times Fiction Prize; 2013′s time travel thriller The Shining Girls was the recipient of four prestigious South African literary awards; and – lest we forget – 2014′s Broken Monsters was commended by The Guardian for its unique adoption of the horror trope as means to explain the crazy reality we live in. And no one quite does crazy reality like Lauren Beukes…

A World of Strangers

4. Nadine Gordimer: A fearless political activist and recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize for Literature, Nadine Gordimer garnered international recognition for her work which dealt with moral and racial issues, and a constant questioning of power relations and truth during South Africa’s apartheid regime. Gordimer’s The Late Bourgeois World, A World of Strangers, Burger’s Daughter and July’s People were either banned or placed under censorship by the apartheid government, owing to the strong anti-apartheid stance and her criticism of racial division. Gordimer is not only one of the most notable literary figures to emerge from South Africa, but also one of its most notable women.

Coconut

5. Kopano Matlwa: Addressing race, class and colonisation in modern-day Johannesburg, Kopano Matlwa had South African bibliophiles buzzing with her debut novel Coconut, published in 2007. Coconut was awarded the European Union Literary Award in 2006/07 and also won the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa in 2010. Her second novel, Spilt Milk (2010), published to equally great acclaim, delivers an allegorical perspective on the born-free generation. Matlwa’s recent Period Pains explores social issues from the point of view of a young female protagonist, delivering an insightful and honest look at growing up in a post-1994 South Africa.

We Need New Names

6. NoViolet Bulawayo: The first black African woman and the first Zimbabwean to be shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, NoViolet Bulawayo rose to international acclaim with her debut novel We Need New Names (2013). Born Elizabeth Thsele, Bulawayo’s literary approach towards displacement, childhood, globalisation, social class and gender delivered subtle, yet powerful commentary on the existential realities of Africa. Named a ‘five under 35′ by the National Book Foundation in 2012, the recipient of the Caine Prize Award for African Writing in 2011, and a Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award winner for We Need New Names, there’s no stopping NoViolet Bulawayo.

Americanah

7. Chimamanda Adichie: No ‘must-read-African-woman-writers-list’ will be complete without mentioning this critically acclaimed author and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient whose TEDx-talk on
feminism was appropriated in Beyoncé’s “Flawless”. Mense: take note of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. As a globally renowned writer, an advocate for gender equality, and vocal supporter of the representation of African culture in the international literary sphere, Adichie is one of the most influential authors – and women – of the 21st century. Viva, Chimamanda, viva.

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Rethinking Reconciliation answers key questions about the extent of progress in South African reconciliation

South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994 heralded the end of more than forty years of apartheid. The Government of National Unity started the process of bringing together this deeply divided society principally through the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). However, interest in – and responsibility for – the reconciliation project first embodied through the TRC appears to have diminished over more than two decades of democracy. The narrow mandate of the Commission itself has been retrospectively criticised, and at face value it would seem that deep divisions persist: the chasm between rich and poor gapes wider than ever before; the public is polarised over questions of restitution and memorialisation; and incidents of racialised violence and hate speech continue. This edited volume uses a decade of public opinion survey data to answer these key questions about the
extent of progress in South African reconciliation. Leading social scientists analyse longitudinal data derived from the South African Reconciliation Barometer Survey (SARB) –conducted annually by the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation since 2003 as well as interrogate and reach critical conclusions on the state of reconciliation, including in the areas of economic transformation, race relations and social contact, political participation, national identity formation and transitional justice. Their findings both confirm and disrupt theory on reconciliation and social change, and point to critical new directions in thinking and policy implementation.

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Wilbur Smith’s War Cry: the Courtney family saga continues

The fourteenth installment in Wilbur Smith’s perennial fan-favourite, the Courtney series, is bound to have historical fiction enthusiasts riveted.

In War Cry, Smith introduces the reader to the bravest new member of the famed Courtney family, Saffron Courtney. Saffron grows up on a sprawling Kenyan country estate, under the watchful eye of her father, prominent businessman and distinguished war veteran Leon Courtney.

A family tragedy unsettles her idyllic life, forcing her to grow up much faster than necessary. As a young woman, her ambitions lead her to England, where she enrolls as a student at Oxford. Simultaneously her stubbornness and resilience inevitably draw her towards the complicated political machinations developing in the lead-up to the Second World War.

The rise of Germany’s National Socialist Party and Hitler’s racial ideology is explored in this gripping novel, centered around one of fiction’s most illustrious families.

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Fiction Friday: read an excerpt from Chibundu Onuzo’s Welcome to Lagos

Chibundo Onuzu

26 year old Nigerian author Chibundu Onuzo wowed the literary world with her debut novel, The Spider King’s Daughter, which was the recipient of a Betty Trask Award, shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Commonwealth Book Prize, and longlisted for the Desmond Elliot Prize. (Sjoe!)

Her second novel, Welcome to Lagos, published in January 2017 enthralled readers and critics alike.

Deep in the Niger Delta, disillusioned officer Chike Ameobi deserts the army and sets off to Lagos. He is soon joined by a wayward private, a naive militant, a young woman and a runaway middle-class wife. Despite their differences, the runaways have one thing in common: an innate need of freedom.

Upon reaching Lagos the five become entangled in a political scandal, ultimately implicating an ethical journalist wishing to write the truth and an unscrupulous government official set on maintaining his position.

The conflict between bureaucracy and justice forces the group to make a life-altering decision…

Welcome to Lagos is a rich novel set in one of the most incredible cities in Africa and themed around courage and survival.

Welcome to Lagos

An extract of the first chapter, Bayelsa:

Evening swept through the Delta: half an hour of mauve before the sky bruised to black. It was Chike Ameobi’s twelfth month as an officer in Bayelsa, twelve months on the barren army base. His first sight of the base had been on an evening like this, bumping through miles of bush, leaves pushing through the open window, insects flying up his nostrils and down the dark passages of his ears. They came to a clearing of burnt soil with charred stumps still rooted in it. Out of this desolation had risen the grey walls of his new home. Later, he would note the birds perched on the loops of barbed wire wheeling round the base. He would spot the garganeys and ruffs gliding through the sky, their long migration from Europe almost over.
He had grown quite fond of the canteen he was making his nay to now, a low, squat building with thick plastic sheets tacked to the windows, the walls crumbling with damp. Officers and lower ranks sauntered into the building in an assortment of mufti: woollen bobble hats and black T-shirts, wrappers knotted over the arm or tied round the waist, the slovenly slap of slippers flip-flopping their way inside.
Colonel Benatari sat by the door, watching the soldiers file past. Chike’s commanding officer was a stocky box of a man, his bulk filling the head of his table. The most senior officers on the base flanked the Colonel. They ate from a private stash of food cooked separately in the kitchen. There was always a struggle to clear the Colonel’s table, lower ranks jostling for the remnants of fresh fish and the dregs of wine left over in the bell-shaped crystal glasses.
Chike threaded his way through the hall, edging past square wooden tables and round plastic ones, past benches, stools and armless chairs, no piece of furniture matched to another. His platoon was already seated.
He was in charge of twenty-three men, charged to lead in battle and inspect their kit, to see their hygiene and personal grooming. They were all still in uniform, not a single button undone. When he sat down, they stretched their hands, the clenched fists of their salutes blooming like doorknobs on each wrist. The conversation did not stop.
‘O boy, you see Tina today? That her bobby.’
‘What of her nyash?’
‘Like drum.’
‘I go beat am.’
‘Nah me go beat am first.’
‘You think she go ‘gree with you?’
‘Why she no go ‘gree?’
Tine was a new kitchen worker. His men could talk of little else these days. Chike too had options on whether Tina was more beautiful than Omotola but he knew not to add to these conversations. If he spoke, they would listen politely and then continue, a column of ants marching round a boulder.
Still he ate dinner with them instead of joining the junior officers’ table. He felt an officer should know the men he was in charge of even though these soldiers under his command would rather not be known. They obeyed his orders but questions about their lives and families were met with silent hostility. His only friend was Private Yemi Oke, the lowest-ranked man on his platoon, now seated next to him and eating his beans without bothering to pick out the weevils. It was the fourth day in a row they were eating beans and dodo but Yemi did not seem to mind.
‘Did you shoot today?’ Chike whispered to him.
‘No.’
‘Good. Meet me by the generator hut when you finish.’
There were a few slices of dodo left on Chike’s plate, overripe and soggy with oil. Yemi would eat them before coming. Chicke left the canteen and went outside to wait for his friend.

*

Read more at Google Books.

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Almost Human delves into Lee Berger’s discovery of Homo naledi

Almost Human

In 2013, acclaimed paleontologist, Lee Berger, came across a cache of bones in an underground cave on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Three years later Berger and his team were able to introduce a whole new species to the world: homo naledi.

Almost Human is an accessible and informative non-fiction narrative, wherein Berger covers discoveries, science, exploration, and – ultimately – what it means to be human.

Not only will Berger’s written account of his extensive experience in exploring the origins of humankind serve as an introduction to our ancestors; it will give you a rare peek into the life of a truly visionary homo sapiens.

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