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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Jacket Notes: Christa Kuljian talks about her latest book Darwin’s Hunch: Science, Race and the Search for Human Origins

Published in the Sunday Times

Darwin's Hunch•Darwin’s Hunch: Science, Race, and the Search for Human Origins
Christa Kuljian (Jacana)

When I studied the history of science at university in the ’80s, I learned that science is often shaped by the context of the time. So when I began research for Darwin’s Hunch, I was curious to find out how the changing times had shaped the search for human origins. For over a century, scientists rejected Darwin’s theory that humans evolved in Africa, but today it is widely accepted.

One of the fascinating things I found was that anthropologist Raymond Dart has a lot in his papers that he did not share with the world. Many of his scientific practices were shaped by colonial thinking. Dart collected human skeletons in an effort to understand what he called “race typology”, which he believed held clues to evolution.

Paging through his documents, I learned the disturbing story of how one of those skeletons came into his collection, a story that remained hidden in the archives for 75 years, and which showed how scientific methods at the time treated human beings as specimens.

Phillip Tobias was Dart’s successor as the head of the department of anatomy at Wits Medical School so it was interesting to learn more about his relationship with Dart. I delved into some of Tobias’s papers as well, and it was surprising to see how his thinking on race and human evolution shifted from his youth in the 1940s through to his death in 2012. Back in the 1950s and ’60s, it was one of Tobias’s colleagues, Hertha de Villiers, who helped to shift scientific thinking away from Dart’s race typology. It was fascinating to learn about this accomplished scientist and her work.

Another of Dart’s theories was that humans are naturally violent. He based this idea on the fact that ancient human ancestors were carnivores and he believed that they used certain bones as weapons to kill their prey. This idea was so popular in the 1960s that it spread to millions of people via Robert Ardrey’s book African Genesis and the film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Dart’s research inspired another young scientist, Bob Brain, based at the Transvaal Museum. Brain concluded that human ancestors did not choose certain bones as weapons, but that those bones remained in the fossil record because they could not be easily chewed.

By the late ’80s and ’90s, genetics had begun to play a big role in understanding human origins. Research with mitochondrial DNA led to the finding that all living humans had shared a common ancestor in Africa as recently as 200,000 years ago. While the changing science is engrossing, it is often the scientists themselves, and the times in which they live, that are most revealing.

Book details

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Book Bites: 31 July 2016

Is it Just Me or is Everything Kak?Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Kak? The Zuma Years
Tim Richman (Two Dogs)
Book bru
It’s been seven years since the third of the Kak books, which was intended to be the last, but Tim Richman now offers us a fourth, which covers the corruption and chaos of Zuma’s presidency. The book also dips into international topics, though it misses some of the most controversial. This makes for a welcome break as the bulk is decidedly South African, which has the unintended effect of becoming exhausting. It’s best read in small doses to allow the humour to override your sense of outrage. — Mandy Watson @mandyjwatson

My Name is Lucy Barton My Name is Lucy Barton
Elizabeth Strout (Penguin)
Book buff
“I have no memory of my mother ever kissing me. She may have kissed me though; I may be wrong.” Thus speaks Lucy Barton, who spends much of this tender novella in hospital, being treated for a mysterious ailment by a doctor so kind he makes Lucy want to weep. For some of the time her mother visits, sleeping in a chair next to Lucy’s bed, and they talk. They don’t talk about anything important; they talk of Elvis and people from back in the day, but somewhere in this talk of commonplaces they reach an understanding of each other. Sort of. Strout writes with the ear of a composer, both in passages of vivid dialogue and in the internal musings of Lucy’s mind, switching between her sick bed, her alienated childhood and her difficult adult relationships. Comparisons with Virginia Woolf have been made. Strout is much more engaging and easier to follow. — Sue de Groot @deGrootS1

Guide to Trees Introduced into Southern AfricaGuide To Trees Introduced Into Southern Africa
Hugh Glen & Braam Van Wyk (Struik Nature)
Book trek
This book fills the niche of a guide to the exotic trees that have been introduced into southern Africa, covering 600 species out of an estimated 2 000. They’re all around us in the suburbs and parks, contributing substantially to Joburg’s famous “urban forest”. The book uses the same model of identification as Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africa, with 43 groups and the identification of trees based on leaf and stem attributes. There is a map for each showing where it can be grown, and a brief description, including common names, place of origin, whether it is invasive, and its cultivation and uses. For tree-lovers it’s a great dip-into read. — Andrew Unsworth

The TeacherThe Teacher
Katerina Diamond (HarperCollins)
Book thrill
Katerina Diamond’s debut is delightfully different and, although it’s labelled a psychological crime thriller, the character’s reactions to evil are refreshingly uncomplicated. First the headmaster of an exclusive school, then a host of high-profile residents of a Devonshire town are murdered using agonising methods, and partners DS Imogen Grey and DS Adrian Miles – both of whom have troubled pasts – battle to find a connection between the killings. The book comprises innocent victims and unrepentantly cruel, twisted villains. Murder is always wrong and we should leave justice to the law – yet some crimes cry out for revenge and demand retribution. — Aubrey Paton

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2016 Lowveld Book Festival programme revealed

2016 Lowveld Book Festival programme revealed

Alert! The full programme for the 2016 Lowveld Book Festival has been revealed.

The festival will take place from 5-7 August this year in Mpumalanga.

Authors involved in the festival this year include Jayne Bauling, Mabonchi Goodwill Motimele, Joanne Macgregor, Arja Salafranca, Bontle Senne, Fiona Snyckers, Tony Park, Sindiwe Magona, Wynie Strydom, Pamela Power, Onkgopotse JJ Tabane, Eric Miyeni, Jessica Pitchford – and many more!

Event Details

  • Date: Friday, 5 August to Sunday, 7 August 2015
  • Venue: Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre
    White River
    Mpumalanga | Map
  • Email:
  • Phone: 071 134 8172
* * * * *

2016 Lowveld Book Festival programme


10:30 AM – 11:30 AM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – by invitation)
Lenore Zietsman – African Dilemma – story for high school children

10:30 AM – 11:30 AM (Casterbridge Cinema – by invitation)
Elinor Sisulu – PUKU presentation to younger primary school children – musical storytelling workshop

10:30 AM – 11:30 AM (Casterbridge Lifestyle Centre Marquee – by invitation)
Elinor Sisulu – PUKU presentation to older primary school children – artist Khehla Chepape Magkatho facilitates an art workshop

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – by invitation)
Ida Gartrell – Spinner of Tales – storytelling

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre)
Opening cocktail party (with Dave Walters, Lenore Zietsman, Dr Mathews Phosa, Jenny Cryws-Williams)

7:00 PM – 08:30 PM (Casterbridge Cinema – R50)
Nozizwe Cynthia Jele – introduces the movie Happiness is a Four-letter Word – a South African romantic drama directed by Thabang Moleya and written by Melissa Stack based on Nozizwe Cynthia Jele’s novel of the same name

7:00 PM – 9:00 PM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre)
Casterbridge Music Development Academy – gentle background music

* * * * *


9:00 AM – 9:45 AM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R30)
Alita Steenkamp – Die vreugde en uitdagings om met woorde te woeker (the joy and challenges of working with words)

9:00 AM – 9:45 AM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Lounge – free)
Jayne Bauling, Kiran Coetzee, Bontle Senne – Launch of two youth novels and a group discussion

9:00 AM – 9:45 AM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – free)
Sue Kloeck – Children’s storytime

9:00 AM – 9:45 AM (Casterbridge Cinema – R50)
Jessica Pitchford – Switched at Birth – Jessica discusses her book which is an insight into a story that gripped the public imagination, a story of living with the unliveable and how some decisions can never be unmade.

10:00 AM – 10:45 AM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R50)
Eric Miyeni – Interview by Jenny Cryws-Williams on literature, publishing and writing and about Eric Miyeni’s books specifically

10:00 AM – 11:45 AM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Lounge – R50)
Joanne Macgregor – Workshop – Swinging both ways: a hybrid author speaks about self-publishing after being traditionally published

10:00 AM – 10:45 AM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – free)
Sue Kloeck – Children’s story time

10:00 AM – 10:45 AM (Casterbridge Cinema – R50)
Wynie Strydom – A chat about his book My Bloed is Blou and he will share a few toerstories

10:00 AM – 10:45 AM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Boardroom – R30)
Hans Bornman – A well known historian who has written books about history, people and pioneers of the Lowveld, will talk about how he got into writing

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – free)
Mabonchi Goodwill Motimele, Nozizwe Cynthia Jele, Arthur Sithole – Panel discussion on furthering literacy in our youth – facilitated by Bontle Senne

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – R50)
Melanie Reeder-Powell, Elliot Ndlovu – A Sangoma’s Story: The Calling of Elliot Ndlovu – her book sheds light on Zulu culture and clarifies the misconceptions about traditional healing

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM (Casterbridge Bandstand – free)
Open Mic (Poetry and readings)

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM (Casterbridge Cinema – R50)
Jacquie Gauthier – In conversation with Karabo Kgoleng – Igniting your passion and having the life you want

11:00 AM – 1:30 PM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Boardroom – R100)
Graeme Butchart – Workshop – Think out of the box. Author of The Genius Programme delivers a workshop about acquiring the tools to unlock your creative thinking.

12:00 PM – 12:45 PM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R50)
Tony Park – Interview by Jenny Cryws-Williams – Jenny will discuss Tony’s book An Empty Coast and his new book Red Earth and much more in between.

12:00 PM – 12:45 PM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Lounge – R30)
Athol Williams – Poetry – Bumper Cars: a social, political and philosophical reflection on human conflict. Athol’s poetry discusses how love is central to resolving this conflict.

12:00 PM – 12:45 PM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – R30)
Deanne Kim – Lifting the Veil – Author of the books Cinderbella Gets Divorced and The Cracked Slipper

12:00 PM – 12:45 PM (Casterbridge Cinema – R30)
Siphesihle AfrikaWisdom Shabalala – Literature is life

1:00 PM – 1:45 PM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R50)
Sindiwe Magona – Untended Fires

1:00 PM – 1:45 PM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Lounge – R30)
David Hilton-Barber – Footprints in the Lowveld – a book about pioneering people, interesting places and significant events

1:00 PM – 1:45 PM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – R30)
Dr Arien van der Merwe – Managing Diabetes and other related health challenges – an holistic and integrative medicine approach

1:00 PM – 2:45 PM (Casterbridge Cinema – R50)
Cindy Robertson – Verhaalwerkswinkel (workshop) – ‘n Liefdesverhaal … waar begin ek?

2:00 PM – 2:45 PM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R50)
Pamela Power – Having it all – just not all at once – an interview by Joanne Macgregor about Pamela’s book Ms Conception which compares breastfeeding with becoming a successful writer

2:00 PM – 2:45 PM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – R30)
Enrico & Erna Liebenberg –
We are the Champions: Champion Trees of South Africa – The oldest and largest and most spectacular of trees in South Africa are afforded the title of Champion Tree and thus protected by law. Join Enrico and Erna Liebenberg on an armchair journey through South Africa and be captivated by the imagery of the sometimes gargantuan and sometimes familiar sights of these trees, some of which are way beyond a millennium old and be wowed by our Natural heritage in trees of which so few people are aware.

2:00 PM – 2:45 PM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Lounge – R30)
David Patient – David will discuss his books Make a Plan … Possibility and Empowerment in a Time of Aids and Positive Health

3:00 PM – 3:45 PM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R50)
Samkela Stamper, Eric Miyeni, Sindiwe Magoma – Panel discussion lead by Karabo Kgoleng – Initiatives to Decolonise Literacy and Literature

3:00 PM – 3:45 PM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Lounge – R30)
Linda Louw – Horses of Kaapsehoop – a six year project paying tribute to the wild herds of horses of the Kaapsehoop escarpment

3:00 PM – 3:45 PM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – R30)
Walter Thornhill – Truth, Memory and Perception – talk weaves in and out of these three dynamics within the context of writing through the eyes of the child and the adult; questioning the relevance and veracity thereof (author of The Eye of the Child)

3:00 PM – 3:45 PM (Casterbridge Cinema – R50)
Paul-Constant Smit – Do you really see? – a talk on how each one of us perceives things differently

4:00 PM – 4:50 PM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R50)
Ida Gartrell – Storytelling – The Fabulous Creatures of Zulu Mythology for adults and children alike

4:00 PM – 4:45 PM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Lounge – R50)
Bontle Senne, Jayne Bauling, Fiona Snyckers – Who is reading and what?

4:00 PM – 4:45 PM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – R30)
Katja Kowalec – Those Miraculous Sunflower Seeds: A Riveting Story of Faith, Hope and Love

4:00 PM – 4:45 PM (Casterbridge Cinema – R30)
Darryl David – Co-author of 101 Country Churches of South Africa, author of A Platteland Pilgrimage and Church Tourism in SA, founder of the Richmond Literary Festival and Richmond Booktown

5:00 PM – 5:45 PM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R50)
Kim Wolhuter, Clyde Niven – Reminiscences of Jock, Fitz, Harry Wolhuter and some of the old timers in the Lowveld

5:00 PM – 5:45 PM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Lounge – R30)
Athol Williams, Arja Salafranca – Poetry for Sundowners

5:00 PM – 5:45 PM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – R30)
Judith Mason – The Mind’s Eye – Judith discusses how making art is as important and relevant as arithmetic and learning to read and that adult artwork is not only a pleasure but a form of philosophy

5:00 PM – 5:45 PM (Casterbridge Cinema – R50)
JJ Tabane – Interview by Karabo Kgoleng about his book Lets Talk Frankly: Letters to Influential South Africans About the State of Our Nation

6:00 PM – 6:45 PM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R50)
Jessica Pitchford – Carte Blanche – the stories behind the stories when Jessica was Managing Editor at Carte Blanche

6:00 PM – 6:45 PM (Casterbridge Bandstand – free)
Open Mic (Poetry and readings)

6:00 PM – 6:45 PM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Lounge – R50)
Roger Webster – Fireside Chats – make yourself comfortable and listen to a few of Roger Webster’s fireside stories

6:00 PM – 6:45 PM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – R30)
Samkela Stamper – This Woman’s Work … 60 Years On – a mini exhibition explores women in literature who have contributed to the landscape of South African literature

6:00 PM – 7:30 PM (Casterbridge Cinema – R50)
Nozizwe Cynthia Jele – introduces the movie Happiness is a Four-letter Word – a South African romantic drama directed by Thabang Moleya and written by Melissa Stack based on Nozizwe Cynthia Jele’s novel of the same name

7:30 PM – 9:00 PM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R150)
Nik Rabinowitz – Comedy show – What the EFF?

* * * * *


10:00 AM – 10:45 AM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R50)
Paul-Constant Smit – Do you really see? – a talk on how each one of us perceives things differently

10:00 AM – 10:45 AM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Lounge – R50)
Roger Webster – Fireside Chats – make yourself comfortable and listen to a few of Roger Webster’s fireside stories

10:00 AM – 10:45 AM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – free)
Sue Kloeck – Children’s story time

10:00 AM – 10:45 AM (Casterbridge Cinema – R30)
Fiona Snyckers – Trinity series, the lighter side of fiction writing

10:00 AM – 12:30 PM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Boardroom – R100)
Graeme Butchart – Workshop – Think out of the box. Author of The Genius Programme delivers a workshop about acquiring the tools to unlock your creative thinking.

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R50)
Tracy Todd – Writing in Dragon – how using voice technology could aid both able and disabled writers

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Lounge – free)
Samkela Stamper, Arja Salafranca – A discussion about their approaches and writing styles, their favourite poems as well as a few readings

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – free)
Sue Kloeck – Children’s story time

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM (Casterbridge Cinema – R50)
Pamela Power – This might be a very stupid idea … how stupid ideas become great storylines on TV

12:00 PM – 12:45 PM (Casterbridge Barnyard Theatre – R50)
Tony Park – Interview by Nicky Manson (editor of Lowveld Living magazine) about his new book Red Earth and discovering why he loves living in the Lowveld, how he develops his characters and his views on conservation

12:00 PM – 12:45 PM (Casterbridge Cinema – R50)
Melanie Reeder-Powell, Elliot Ndlovu – A Sangoma’s Story: The Calling of Elliot Ndlovu – her book sheds light on Zulu culture and clarifies the misconceptions about traditional healing

12:00 PM – 12:45 PM (Casterbridge Art Gallery – R30)
Enrico & Erna Liebenberg – We are the Champions: Champion Trees of South Africa – The oldest and largest and most spectacular of trees in South Africa are afforded the title of Champion Tree and thus protected by law. Join Enrico and Erna Liebenberg on an armchair journey through South Africa and be captivated by the imagery of the sometimes gargantuan and sometimes familiar sights of these trees, some of which are way beyond a millennium old and be wowed by our Natural heritage in trees of which so few people are aware.

12:00 PM – 2:00 PM (Casterbridge Hollow Hotel Lounge – free)
Mabonchi Goodwill Motimele – Workshop for writers – The element of surprise in literature

2:00 PM – 3:30 PM (Casterbridge Cinema – R50)
Nozizwe Cynthia Jele – introduces the movie Happiness is a Four-letter Word – a South African romantic drama directed by Thabang Moleya and written by Melissa Stack based on Nozizwe Cynthia Jele’s novel of the same name

Book details

Soccer SecretsKe a hwa, ke a ikepelaFault LinesUitsonderlike liefdeBeyond TouchPowers of the Knife
Now Following YouThe Gift of an ElephantAn Empty CoastChasing The Tails of My Father’s CattleWynie - My bloed is blouA Sangoma's Story
Ms ConceptionLet's Talk FranklyLoui FishGold Never RustsHere Comes the Snake in the GrassSwitched At Birth
At the FiresideBumper CarsLandslideWe are the ChampionsFootprintsTrinity On AirRecoil

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Sunday Read: Asymptote’s 5th anniversary edition, featuring Toast Coetzer and never-before-seen work from 30 countries

It’s no secret that we love the award-winning journal Asymptote.

In their latest issue, the quarterly magazine dedicated to literary translation and contemporary writing celebrates their fifth anniversary with a magnificent theme: Eternal Return.

“We may die, but our souls somehow survive, in images, in gestures, in words haunting the written page… Years come and go, books are borrowed and sometimes lost, but words linger forever in our minds,” the Editor’s Note states, introducing the exciting line-up for the January 2016 issue.

Read the note in full to see what you can expect:

Somehow, the year’s end always comes as a surprise. Suddenly, January is upon your doorstep: you’re another year older. This month, Asymptote turns five, a ripe old age for a literary magazine run entirely by volunteers. Yet we haven’t jaded a bit—heartened as we are by the success of our recent mini-fundraiser, and, of course, by this new issue (video trailer here). Aside from exclusive interviews with the great Junot Díaz and Yann Martel, this issue hails never-before-published material from thirty countries.


NaweekSouth AfricaIn this jam-packed issue, one of our favourite local word smiths Toast Coetzer joins the likes of Junot Diaz, Yann Martel, Ingo Schulze, Caroline Bergvall, Sybille Lacan, Olga Tokarczuk, Xiao Kaiyu.

Coetzer translated three of his poems from Afrikaans: “own terms”, “circulations of blood” and “Anene Booysen”. His section of the e-magazine also features the original poems and a recording of him reading “circulations of blood” in Afrikaans (“bloedsomloop”).

As this week’s Suday Read, find Coetzer’s work on Asymptote and browse the website for more literary delights:

Three Poems
Toast Coetzer

own terms

you are here on own terms
just like Omar al-Bashir and his walking stick, Jeb Bush and his exclamation mark, Nasser al-Wuhayshi and his final meal, a regular sickle-bush, a lone donkey at a dry spring

the desert wind blows, on its own terms,
waves of sandgrouse, whirring balls of dust, are loosened
from the far-off mountains where the single horn
of an old oryx bull catches the light

you are here on own terms, with the cancer
that ring-barked you, the drunk pick-up
that burst through the fence and snapped
the telephone pole in half so it came to
rest on your forehead naming
all the names of your leaking things

here it is, your heart in a photograph
still printed at the CNA, underneath a shirt
in which you were smaller, your skin softer,
your hair thicker, laughing

there’s a time when everyone – al-Bashir, all Bushes,
also Zuma – will be dead, and the people who stand around
those graves, with pretend tears, or thorns in their palms,
will recognize, in the sharp corners of the hole, the depth
thereof, the end-of-story of all our outcomes.

Watch the trailer for Asymptote‘s Eternal Return edition:

YouTube Preview Image


Book details

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Find the Perfect Bookish Gift for Any Personality (Plus: Sample Excerpts)

Jingle all the way – find the perfect bookish gift for every guest at your Christmas party!

Christmas is but a jingle bell away and many of us are yet to fill the stockings with our last-minute purchases from the Crazy Store.

We at Books LIVE believe that books are the perfect gift for any occasion and that even the most hardened book-heathen can be persuaded of our religion with the right edition in their hands.

No one has the brainpower to think this time of year, so we’ve compiled a list of books from 2015 for each individual guest at your festive dinner table (yes, even for that one uncle).

Not convinced? No problem. Read the excerpts from each book before you click the “purchase” button.

Happy Festive Season and oh, oh, oh – you’re welcome!

* * * * * * * *

For the Banting dissident

Death By CarbsDeath By Carbs by Paige Nick:

Not a day went by that Trevor didn’t wish he’d gone into bacon. People would always like bacon, wouldn’t they? Most of them, anyway. Not the Jews and Muslims of course, although some of them seemed to be coming around to it.

Earlier that morning, Trevor had considered the road paint business; people would always need road paint. Well, as long as there were roads. And before that, in the changing room at the gym, he’d eagerly considered the towel business (although he would definitely make them bigger, he thought – everybody made towels too small these days). There was also the running shoe business, and at this point, even the showerhead business seemed attractive. Surely those industries would be less stressful than the one he was in right now? Hell, working as head of public relations at Eskom would be less stressful.

It wasn’t even eight am yet, and Trevor had already weighed up at least ten different career alternatives to being the Managing Director of a company that manufactured bread, baked goods and snacks.

For the political satire junkie

JimfishJimfish by Christopher Hope:

Spying an oddly coloured boy in the crowd, the President asked: ‘And what’s your group, young man?’

Jimfish did not hesitate: ‘I’m with the fish, sir. That’s my name and that’s my calling.’

The President was impressed. ‘Good for you, Jimfish. If we all stuck to our own school, shoal, tribe, troop and territory we’d be a lot happier. Those like Nelson Mandela, who oppose me, will stay in jail. There will be no mixing of the colours, no turning back and no going forward. In fact, no movement of any sort, not while I am in charge.’


NativesNatives by Inongo Makome:

Ever punctual, Montse met Bambara Keita at the time they had agreed on. She drove him to Roser’s place, where she could see her friend waving from across the street. Montse told Bambara Keita that it was ok to get out of the car. As he obeyed her orders, she looked around to make sure that no one had seen their operation.

Bambara Keita went toward Roser. She walked ahead of him. When she got to her door she looked in both directions. When she saw that no one she knew was around, she gestured for the African to come along. She pressed the button for the elevator, but the light indicated they had to wait for the elevator as it descended from the top floor. Roser was nervous. She was afraid she would run into a neighbor.

Just as the elevator was about to arrive, the door to the street opened. Roser mumbled something that the African couldn’t understand. But he thought she was cursing her bad luck. He too was annoyed by the neighbor’s appearance.

For the connoisseur of local fiction

Rachel’s BlueRachel’s Blue by Zakes Mda:

Old hippies never die, an old song suggests, they just fade away. Actually, they just drif to Yellow Springs where they’ve become a haunting presence on the sidewalks and storefront benches. Some in discoloured tie-dyes, strumming battered guitars, wailing a Bob-Dylan-of-old for some change in the guitar case. Others just chewing the fat. Or giving curious passers-by toothless grins, while exhibiting works of art they have created from pine cones and found objects.

Jason de Klerk is too young to be one of the baby-boomer originals, though he puts a lot of effort into looking like them. He was drawn to Yellow Springs after dropping out of high school, and in that town he fell under the spell ofa faded hippy called Big Flake Tomas with whom he busked at the public square or gigged at the Chindo Grille when no act with at least some regional profile had been booked. The master’s fat fingers strummed and plucked on an Appalachian dulcimer, while the acolyte furiously beat a conga drum, and then blew his didgeridoo.


The Story of Anna P, as Told by HerselfThe Story of Anna P, as Told by Herself by Penny Busetto:

She enters, takes her seat without looking at him, and closes her eyes. From outside the windows she can hear the sound of traffic and the uneven dripping of rain. A depressed, empty sound. He clears his throat. – Come sta? I hope you will be able to talk to me today. I am going to put the tape recorder on again. Just in case. He smiles, a thin-lipped smile that is not reflected in his eyes.

Her mind hears his words but she feels no need to respond. She can’t stop her ears from hearing, but she can block her reactions to the words. – Vede, Signorina, posso chiamarti Anna, vero? Vedi Anna, you are in a lot of trouble. You need to help us to help you. Devi parlare.

She opens her eyes but doesn’t look at him. She is aware of his eyes constantly on her, following her breathing, watching her every reaction, trying to get inside, to penetrate beneath the skin. – I’ve been looking at your folder. La cartella clinica. Very interesting. I’m interested in your childhood. Your parents, for instance. Your father.


The ReactiveThe Reactive by Masande Ntshanga:

Lindanathi means wait with us. What I’m meant to be waiting for, or who I’m meant to be waiting with, I was never told. Ever since I could spell its ten letters out, I’ve been trying to make it shorter, into five. You can take that as a hint on what to call me if you want. Or not. Either way, it won’t make much of a difference to me.

That’s what my name is.

I’m Nathi, and of the three of us, I’m the one who’s supposed to be dying. In order to do as much standing around as I do, you need to be one of the forty million human beings currently infected with the immuno-deficiency virus. Then you need to stand at your friend’s computer and design a poster over his shoulder, one telling these people you’re here to help them. Then you need to provide them with your details – tell them you prefer email or sms – and then start selling them your pills.

What helps, of course, is to try to forget about it as much as possible. Which is what I do.

Maybe it’s this whole slavery thing, Cissie says.


What Will People SayWhat Will People Say: A Novel by Rehana Rossouw:

Kevin was waiting at the school gate when Nicky and Shirley strolled out arm in arm at the end of the school day. He stepped forward as they came near. “Greetings ladies, can I escort you today?”

Shirley giggled. “Of course you can, right Nicky?”

Nicky didn’t want Kevin walking with them. He was only after one thing. She hadn’t gone to the SRC meeting at second break; she was too busy sukkeling with Shirley’s problem. She still hadn’t found a solution. As she expected, it didn’t take long – two steps out of the gate and Kevin started on her.

“So Nicky, I was expecting to see you in the meeting this afternoon. There’s work to be done. We planning to bring the country to a stand still for the tenth anniversary of the ’76 uprising.”


What About MeeraWhat About Meera by ZP Dala:

He sat on a wooden chair in the garden underneath the hundred-year-old thorn tree. His daughter sat quietly breathing near him. The crickets began to sing love songs, the swallows that flew north for the winter now revelled in the December dusk and came home like obedient children to roost in their muddy homes. Not so far away, in the shacks, fires burned and their wood smoke brought a fragrance to the night. The dew had not even begun to fall yet.

He looked with a side glance at the wild-haired child he had fathered. She seemed lost in the world around her. As always, she sat with one foot dangling off the stool and one tucked underneath her. His limber, tiny-boned girl. The daughter he knew nothing about, knew not how to talk to. He knew only that his heart would always betray him in her tiny presence. The little place-shape she took in the big wide world.

‘The swallows came back, Papa,’ she commented, breaking the silence. He breathed out loud and wondered why this child was lingering around him tonight.


Boy on the WireBoy on the Wire by Alastair Bruce:

Cape Road leads from the centre of Port Elizabeth, near the cricket ground, west into the suburbs. At the national road it branches south and the tarmac becomes narrower as it leads away from the city. The houses grow larger and are set further and further back from the road. Some are invisible behind the blue gum trees. If you follow this road for about twenty minutes, until after the streetlights end, you will come first to a single-storey house, painted white, but now brown with dust. ere is a light on in the lounge of this house. Next door is a larger house, two storeys, built out of red-brick. This house is in darkness, save for a single light over the front door.

John Hyde sits in a chair in the bungalow. The patio door is open and the drawn curtains shift in the breeze.

There is a full moon. The moonlight gets in between the gap in the curtains and washes over Hyde’s face. The light seems to wipe his features away.

Notes From the Lost Property DepartmentNotes From the Lost Property Department by Bridget Pitt:

Her phone is croaking again. Iris eyes it warily. She’d thought that a frog sound would be soothing, but the croak is somehow more ominous than the bicycle bell ringtone that she’d had before. She’d ignored the last call, but the caller is apparently not easily deterred. She snatches up the phone and silences its croak with her thumb. ‘Hello?’ she suggests, tentatively.

‘Hello? Hello? Is that Miss … uh Langley?’ The voice is loud, nasal and institutional, bringing to mind the rubber feet on walking aids, the chilly humiliation of a bedpan.

‘Yes …’

‘This is Sister Samson from Lavender Lodge Frail Care Facility. Is Mrs Grace Langley your mother?’

‘Yes … Yes, she is.’ Iris sounds doubtful, as if apprehensive about what complications owning this relationship might subject her to.

For the True Crime buff
GruesomeGruesome by De Wet Potgieter:

In 1994, shortly after South Africa’s first democratic elections of 1994, two AK-47 rifles were shoved into Sergeant ‘Pedro’ Peens’s hands, accompanied by the command ‘Get rid of these very quickly, or we shall hang’.

With the two ‘hot’ rifles in the boot of his police car, Peens was panic-struck. He knew full well he had dynamite in his hands. He pondered what to do with the weapons, his stomach tied up in knots while he paced restlessly trying to work out a strategy. He realised he was on his own now. He dared not ask for advice, as the politics in South Africa had become so dangerously fluid that no one could be trusted any longer.

Colonel Eugene de Kock, commander of the state-sanctioned death squads at Vlakplaas, had already been incarcerated and was awaiting trial, while policemen and members of the Civil Cooperation Bureau (CCB), the notorious covert unit operating under the South African Defence Force (SADF), had begun to sing like canaries backstage in an effort to save their own skins.

Grave MurderGrave Murder by Jana van der Merwe:

Late on Tuesday afternoon, the team studied the cellphone statements again. This time, Steyn offered to call the last number displayed on Michael’s phone, as if a different caller, much like a different gambler taking over an unlucky slot machine, could twist fate to their advantage.

‘Let’s hold thumbs,’ said Van Zyl.

‘Here goes,’ Steyn said as she punched in the number. It rang. She could not hide her elation as she mouthed and signalled the good news with a thumb’s up. On the spur of the moment, Steyn decided to pull an old trick she and Van Zyl had learnt from their good friend, the respected private investigator Leon Rossouw, from Bloemfontein. It was a trick that had worked time and again to lure possible suspects to the police.

For the spec-fic and sci-fi fans

The RaftThe Raft by Fred Strydom:

Remember Jack Turning—

I fell out of my dream.

It took me a while to figure out where I was, where I had fallen asleep. It was the familiar scratch of sand beneath my clothing that first became apparent.

The beach.

I sat up and looked towards the sun. It was sinking into the ocean, layering the sky in uneven smears of purple, yellow and red. The day was ending and I’d already spent most of it asleep, which meant I’d spend most of the night awake. Again.

“Do you know about the alp?”

The deep voice belonged to the large and swarthy man sitting beside me. Ropes of sun-bleached dreadlocks slung over his shoulders and down to the small of his back. His name was Gideon and he was as much of a friend as I could claim to have in that peculiar place. Still, I knew so little about him – where he’d been born, where he had originally lived, or what it was that he loved in this world. I didn’t even know his last name. All I knew was that he had been taken to the beach as I had, all those years ago, and that, like all of us there, he was a far and unconquerable distance from where he truly wished to be.


Terra IncognitaTerra Incognita edited by Nerine Dorman:

“How My Father Became a God” by Dilman Dila

My father was a god, though he looked like any other old man. He had a thick white beard, and a bald head with tufts of hair above his ears. He had no wrinkles. His ribs showed. His gait was slow, shuffling. He always wore large, green earrings, a rainbow-coloured necklace, and a black goatskin loincloth. He looked ordinary, but I knew he was a god. This was confirmed the day he showed me the egg-shaped thing. The object stood on two, bird-like legs that were taller than he was, and it had a pair of wings that were so large my father must have skinned twenty cows to make them. I wondered where he got the hide, for he had no wealth to buy cattle.

“It’s buffalo skin,” he said. “You don’t hunt,” I said.

“I paid a hunter.”

I frowned, but was too courteous to ask how he had paid the hunter. He was so poor he could not afford to buy a chicken.

“I sold him a trap,” he said.

Why You Were TakenWhy You Were Taken by by JT Lawrence:

Johannesburg, 2021
A well-built man in grimy blue overalls waits outside the front door of a Mr Edward Blanco, number 28, Rosebank Heights. He is on a short stepladder, and is pretending to fix the corridor ceiling light, the bulb of which he had unscrewed the day before, causing the old lady at the end of the passage to call general maintenance, the number which he had temporarily diverted to himself.

He would smirk, but he took himself too seriously. People in his occupation were often thought of as little brain-to-brawn ratio, but in his case it wasn’t true. You had to be clever to survive in this game, to stay out of the Crim Colonies.

Clever, and vigilant, he thinks, as he hears someone climbing the stairs behind him and holds an impotent screwdriver up to an already tightened screw. The unseen person doesn’t stop at his landing but keeps ascending.


TracerTracer by Rob Boffard:

Seven years ago

The ship is breaking up around them.

The hull is twisting and creaking, like it’s trying to tear away from the heat of re-entry. The outer panels are snapping off, hurtling past the cockpit viewports, black blurs against a dull orange glow.

The ship’s second-in-command, Singh, is tearing at her seat straps, as if getting loose will be enough to save her. She’s yelling at the captain, seated beside her, but he pays her no attention. The flight deck below them is a sea of flashing red, the crew spinning in their chairs, hunting for something, anything they can use.


Under GroundUnder Ground by SL Grey:


All morning I’ve been cleaning the condo, wiping down every surface with disinfectant, vacuuming the carpets and the upholstery and the purposeless drapes. There’re no windows down here, no natural light. Behind the curtains are just screens with moving photos: a forest scene in one frame, a snowy mountain, a tropical beach right next to it. They make me feel nauseous.

And built-in closets everywhere.

Thick, crisp sheets and built-in closets. This condo is so luxurious, I should feel happy, like we’re on some sort of dream vacation, but I’m hating it already. I wish we could just go back home. I wish Daddy had never bought this place.

For the poetry aficionados

Haiku for AfricaHaiku for Africa by Marié Heese, illustrated by Edith Bukani:

In Haiku for Africa, Heese focuses on Africa and the African landscape, which lends a new dimension to this ancient Japanese art form.

Beautifully illustrated by Grahamstown-based artist Edith Bukani, the latest edition of Haiku for Africa comes complete with an audio CD, read by Natalia Molebatsi.

Listen to five poems from Haiku for Africa, performed by Molebatsi:

Chants of FreedomChants of Freedom: Poems Written in Exile by Mathews Phosa:

Boys and girls are back

Humbly claim your victory, boys and girls are back,
looking into a treacherous tomorrow, this is your time,
to make or to break.

Give us the spirit,
we need a virile soul, give us a vision,
we need a tank of ideas.

Choose your side, you can’t be both and everything,
to fish and swines.

Bilakhulu!Bilakhulu!: Longer Poems by Vonani Bila:

I was born in 1972
Where Mudzwiriti River swelled over roads and boulders
But nothing green grew in Gazankulu Bantustan
Even plants and trees and shrubs
Even the animals and birds and reptiles
Even the mountains and lakes and streams
Felt the pain of apartheid war
I still live here in the backwoods
With the common people
Warming ourselves around bonfires

I’ve slept in grand sky-scraping hotels
And villas of the world’s jaw-dropping cities –
My name is inscribed in books, postcards, newspapers, zines and films
But I’ve never been active on Facebook or Twitter
When I finally sleep
I want to be folded neatly
Planted into a family cemetery
Head facing east
Please my children, don’t pile up goods on the grave
The rain will wash my memory away
The sun will dry them and wild fire will burn me to ashes
Please my children, don’t be foolish and chop the trees
I planted with passion
They’re your future oxygen, bread and soup


A Writer's DiaryA Writer’s Diary by Stephen Watson:

It is, I think, in that sense that A Writer’s Diary is more than just a scrupulous examination of the abiding preoccupations of one of contemporary South Africa’s most eminent English-language poets, essayists and critics – arguably the most observant, humane, and digressive of his generation. For Stephen Watson’s insights into language, culture, landscape, ideologies, writers, painters, politics, society, and the baffling nature of the human condition nail his colours to the mast. In this, his small volume is also a manifesto. As an approach to life as an intellectually serious business, it presents a rich and engaging range of beliefs which fan out from a primary impulse. That impulse is to grasp at the heart of the matter, with unsparing candour.


DLP Yali-Manisi: Limbali ZamanyangeDLP Yali-Manisi: Limbali Zamanyange: Historical Poems edited by Jeff Opland and Pamela Maseko:

In his poetry David Manisi sought lessons from the past in an effort to sustain the will to resist. The struggle might deploy different weapons: he valorised education, for example, associating it with celestial imagery, and offered it as a tool to redress the imbalances between black and white in South Africa. Whether or not the tools are peaceful, the struggle remains militant. In “Imfazwe kaMlanjeni”, Manisi heaps scorn on those who take no part in the conflict, who seek to preserve their own skins ignoring the needs of the nation. In Canto IV the warriors exhort each other:

Masife siphele madun’ akowethu.
Ofa ngozuko ngofel’ into yakhe,
Adunyiswe naxa selele kooyise.
Ngamagwal’ ancama konk’ okwawo,
Afe kaninzi kungafikang’ ukufa,
Af’ engenzanga nto kub’ akanto,
Okwawo kukuty’ ahluth’ alale.

For the history fundi
Wine, Women and Good HopeWine, Women and Good Hope: A history of scandalous behaviour in the Cape by June McKinnon:

The dawn of the twentieth century brought the start of a new era for the Cape of Good Hope. Tensions that had built up in the preceding century between the British and the Boers finally came to a head with the Second Anglo-Boer War, fought from 1899 to 1902. The war cast a shadow on the country for over two years, and its effect on both the individual and shared lives of the inhabitants of the Boer republics and British colonies would change the course of South African history.

In the Cape, the war generated an influx of immigrants who would help to alter the social dynamics of the region. Although their arrival did have an impact on some of its broader societal issues, including the politics and conflicts in the colony, it also had social consequences that could be viewed as less grand or epic than what is usually associated with war. While many things changed, many other things stayed the same. And in regard to the high jinks that had plagued the Cape for nearly three centuries, the Anglo-Boer War had no less of an influence in diminishing their seedier aspects than any other major event occurring in its history. Indeed, you could say that the war brought this out in full force.


RecceRecce by Koos Stadler:

In the 1980s many rumours did the rounds about the Recces. Because of the secretive nature of Special Forces training and operations, little was known about the units. Whatever was written about the Recces in the media was often distorted or misquoted. One Afrikaans magazine in particular had a penchant for Recce stories. An article I kept for many years portrayed the South African Special Forces soldier as a silent killing machine, programmed to sneak into enemy bases to slit the guards’ throats prior to an attack. We were depicted as superhuman warriors, fighting the enemies of our country.

I experienced first-hand the effect of someone taking these crazy stories too seriously. While on a visit to my folks in Upington, I picked up a lonely hitchhiker close to Vryburg, in what is today the Northern Cape. As soon as the guy got in I sensed from his body odour and scruffy clothes that he was one of the so-called knights of the road, vagrants who travel from town to town, making a living from benefactors and travellers who provide food and drink along the way.

A History of South AfricaA History of South Africa: From Past to Present by Fransjohan Pretorius:

What was apartheid?

The first time that the term apartheid appeared in print appears to have been in a pamphlet issued at a conference on the missionary endeavours of the NG Church in Kroonstad in 1929. It was used in the speech delivered by the Rev. JC du Plessis of Bethlehem. In Die Burger it was first seen in 1943 in a leading article. At about this time Dr DF Malan, leader of the NP, began to use the term in Parliament to differentiate his party’s policy from the segregation plan of the ruling United Party (UP).

During the premierships of Generals JBM Hertzog and Jan Smuts, South Africa was a segregated society. Black people had extremely limited political rights, schools and residential areas were segregated, the pass law was enforced to keep black people out of the cities, and there were separate sport and recreation facilities. On the other hand, during Smuts’s second term as prime minister (1939–1948) there was an increase in the variety of social services available to black people and the level of these services was improved. Furthermore, virtually every government report, especially the report of the Fagan Commission in 1948, recommended that black people’s permanent residence in the cities should be officially recognised. However, the NP was determined to curb this line of reasoning and to extend and enforce the separation between white and black people.

Eden's ExilesEden’s Exiles by Jan Breytenbach:

During a century or more of intensive exploration by persistent adventurers of awesome stature, Africa – known as the dark continent because of its hidden secrets and treasures – slowly be came exposed.

Livingstone, Stanley, Selous, Speke and others opened up the continent for missionaries, hunters, traders and European farmers. Only a few uncharted corners remained where the white man’s foot had hardly trod because the cost of exploitation would be prohibitive both in money and in human life.

These areas became the last sanctuaries for the remnants of a profusion of wildlife that once roamed the African plains, forests and swamps. A harsh climate, remoteness and the tsetse fly formed a formidable defensive barrier which could not be breached by greedy man bent on wielding his non-selective rifle and willful destroying the last vestiges of a treasure which he, impoverished in spirit, failed to acknowledge as vital to his own continued existence on planet Earth.

For the revolutionary

Antjie Krog and the Post-Apartheid Public SphereAntjie Krog and the Post-Apartheid Public Sphere: Speaking Poetry to Power by Anthea Garman:

To understand more about this situation, I focus on one particular public figure in South Africa, Antjie Krog, the poet, journalist and book author, in order to unpick how the platform to speak in public is created and crafted. A focus on one seemingly anomalous public person, her biography, works, media coverage and trajectory illuminates the factors that constitute the making of such a public persona. Krog continues to speak into the post-apartheid South African public sphere when racial markers of identity, history and experience that attach to the person speaking remain powerfully in place in all spaces of dialogue, so that who talks for whom on what issues are very important but fraught factors.

‘Public sphere’ is a useful – but sometimes limiting – term for a shifting and liminal space in the world in which an abundant range of practices occur that are difficult to grasp in a comprehensive and detailed way. However, some recent work allows me to sketch some suggestive markers of the domain that give a sense of the major concerns, shape, spaces and guiding practices of the post-apartheid (yet still transitional) public sphere.


Africa UprisingAfrica Uprising: Popular Protest and Political Change by Adam Branch and Zachariah Mampilly:

From multiple directions, crowds converged on Burkina Faso’s National Assembly on 30 October 2014. For days, massive protests of tens or even hundreds of thousands had mounted against President Blaise Compaoré’s effort to push a constitutional amendment through parliament that would allow him a third term. Finally, frustrated at the lack of response from the government, thousands of protesters smashed their way into the parliament compound, setting ablaze vehicles and ransacking the building. Soon, flames flickered up the sides of the white-tiled structure as soldiers stood by and watched. Other government buildings were soon burning, and, despite the military’s attempt to put down the uprising, Compaoré had no choice but to announce his resignation on the following day.

A new wave of protest is sweeping across Africa today. The multiparty regimes and neoliberal economies that emerged from the upheavals of the late 1980s and early 1990s have proved unable to meet popular aspirations for fundamental change. Starting in the late 2000s, what we identify as the third wave of African protest has posed dramatic challenges to the established order in over forty countries across the continent.


Creating AfricasCreating Africas: Struggles Over Nature, Conservation and Land by Knut G Nustad:

For centuries the Umfolozi River has been washing down silt, creating a river delta with extremely rich soil on its way to the Indian Ocean. The flats, covered in bush, stretch all the way to the ocean in the east and are met by a subtropical forest to the north. Between the forest, the river and the sea lies one of Africa’s largest estuaries.

It is teeming with wildlife — hippos, crocodiles, elephants and other animals are here in abundance. Africans had been using the forest and the area as hunting grounds and as a place to hide during conflicts as the impenetrability of the forest made it hard to traverse. For a long time the forest and the flats were protected from white hunters as well because malaria made travelling here extremely difficult. But at the beginning of the twentieth century the potential of the area as agricultural land was realised, and a heroic effort to make the land suitable for sugar cane production began.

Reporting from the FrontlineReporting from the Frontline: Untold Stories from Marikana by Gia Nicolaides:

It was Thursday 23 August, exactly a week since the shooting. There was a strange atmosphere in Marikana. Death still hung in the air. The community, particularly the women, were grieving. At the same time the men were more determined than ever to continue with the strike. Over the past few days the miners continued meeting on the koppie, but they didn’t stay there very long. As soon as they had a large enough crowd, they would start marching towards the mining shafts. They would sing and dance and then all drop to the ground and sing in hushed tones before standing up again and moving forward. Doing this, it took them several hours to get to each of the shafts. Their motive was to ensure that no one else was working.

They gathered outside the shafts and a few of them would storm in and chase away anyone who was seen to be working. They even went as far as throwing stones and bricks at those who were found inside. The shooting had also attracted more media attention and several well-known international reporters had arrived in Marikana. One of them was Alex Crawford from Sky News. On a quiet afternoon when the miners had retreated to their shacks she interviewed me on the koppie. I was surprised that she wanted to speak to me. Alex had told me she had been listening to my radio reports and wanted to get a more in-depth view of what had happened. I had watched her television reports for many years and had always considered her a veteran journalist. It was quite an honour to discuss such a relevant story with her.

For the thrill seeker

The ScoreThe Score by HJ Golakai:

“Johnson …”

Vee flipped a hand for silence, frowning over the document open on the flatscreen. It was all over the place. Jumbled, wordy in the wrong places, the punch sucked out of it. The online team were a pack of butchers – why else would every thing of beauty that passed through their feral mitts come out the other end looking, sounding if that were possible, like a mangled carcass?

Prose was doomed to play the ugly stepchild to graphics in their world, as if readers only visited the digital page to look at pretty pictures. She chopped a few limp lines off the third paragraph, thought better of it and deleted it completely. “Dammit!” she threw her hands up. “What’ve you done?”

“This,” Darren Februarie tapped the screen, “is a masterpiece.”

“This is shit spattered on a bathroom wall, that’s how readable it is.” She readjusted her chair. “Last time I give you anything for comments.”

Hour of DarknessHour of Darkness by Michéle Rowe:

Fred sat in his car and watched the lights go off in the houses on the street. One by one. He checked his dashboard clock. Eight p.m. exactly. Then the light in his house went off. Natasha would take something like Earth Hour seriously. She’d got some weird ideas in her head. He didn’t mind. It was best to do what everyone else in this neighbourhood did, and not stand out in any way.

The house looked unlived-in from the outside: a seventies, split-level affair with wood and slasto details. Only a rental, as impermanent as every other place Fred Splinters had occupied. He deserved something better by now. It gave him a sour taste in his mouth to think he might be a failure. It was not a good thought, not a helpful thought. Why had Natasha insisted on this area? She liked the ‘ordinariness’, she’d said, that she could walk to the shops. However, it was also close to Diep River Police Station, only four blocks away, which did not suit Fred at all. He preferred to give the law a wide berth. He clicked the gate remote. The metal gate shuddered, partially opened, and then stuck.

For the moody foodie
Recipes for Love and Murder: A Tannie Maria MysteryRecipes for Love and Murder: A Tannie Maria Mystery by Sally Andrew:

Isn’t life funny? You know, how one thing leads to another in a way you just don’t expect.

That Sunday morning, I was in my kitchen stirring my apricot jam in the cast-iron pot. It was another dry summer’s day in the Klein Karoo, and I was glad for the breeze coming in the window.

“You smell lovely,” I told the appelkooskonfyt.

When I call it apricot “jam” it sounds like something in a tin from the Spar, but when it’s konfyt, you know it’s made in a kitchen. My mother was Afrikaans and my father was English and the languages are mixed up inside me. I taste in Afrikaans and argue in English, but if I swear I go back to Afrikaans again.


Cooked UpCooked Up: Food Fiction from Around the World by Ben Okri and Mukoma wa Ngugi, edited by Elaine Chiew:

When my friend Daniel Chan confided in me that Jennifer was leaving him because he was washing his wok with soap, I laughed till I started to wheeze.

And when I came up for air it was to use the little psychology I knew to assure him he was obviously displacing. Jennifer could have left him for any number of reasons – he was too short, had a missing front tooth, and even though only in his mid-twenties, was already balding. To his credit he was an excellent chef, but he was considered a bit eccentric because he exercised, which is to say he ran a mile every other day. To all this Chan promptly responded, ‘Fuck off.’

The more I thought about it, the more improbable it seemed – that in a culinary school in a small town in Kenya called Limuru, a soap-washed but clean-rinsed wok could come between two lovers from China, and leave the man ostracized from both his community and his adopted society

For the nature nut

The Alphabet of BirdsThe Alphabet of Birds by SJ Naudé:

Shortly before his mother’s death he sees her naked for the first time in his life.

He enters the bedroom. The bathroom door has been left open, in case she should fall or lose consciousness. It frames her: the body shapeless, the small towel she quickly presses against herself too small to cover her lower abdomen. Each pubic hair with a drop of clear water clinging to the tip. They both look away. Later they pretend it never happened.

Let’s first go back in time, a few months, to where he is standing, halfway down the cellar stairs, looking up at Joschka. Joschka is hesitant, calling him back, a large old-fashioned key in his hand. They are staying at Joschka’s brother-in-law’s castle, Burg Heimhof, in the Oberpfalz, not far from Nuremberg.

Green LionGreen Lion by Henrietta Rose-Innes:

Mossie was standing under the tree outside the Lion House, as he knew she would be. She drifted over to him like smoke settling on his clothes, his skin. He remembered his mother’s musty odour: cigarettes and sweat and sweet eastern scent.

Con was a little out of breath, and the sweat felt chill on his skin. He’d walked, fast, all across the city from the hospital, jogging at times. It had taken a while; the day had faded, the sky growing soft and purple as a lake, and the cars switching on their pilot lights, approaching white and receding red, as he crossed their glittering wakes.

It was not intentional; not a route he’d plotted or planned. It was just where the walking had taken him: not back to Elyse’s flat, but up, back up again to the blue-green mountain.

For the young at heart

The Last Road TripThe Last Road Trip by Gareth Crocker:

Within hours of the funeral, Jack was back in the water. As usual, he had lost count of how many laps he had done. Given how long he had been in the pool, he knew it had to be a reasonable number. At the age of seventy-one, it surprised him that he was still capable of swimming prodigious distances – more so than he ever imagined possible at this stage of his life. Not that feats of endurance mattered much to him these days.

However, intrigued to see just what he was capable of, he had recently decided to test himself and had embarked on a swim with no end goal in mind. When boredom, rather than muscle fatigue, had brought a premature end to the experiment, he was astounded to learn from his friend, Sam – who was sitting poolside and counting diligently – that he had managed a rather remarkable 238 lengths. The equivalent, almost, of six kilometres. Still, it meant little to him. He was no longer obsessed with fitness the way he once was. The competitive urge that used to gush through his veins – that drove him to swim internationally for a time – had long since left him. He swam now because it was a form of escape and he still savoured the sensation of cutting through the crisp blue water, the comforting rhythm and solitude of it all. It was also the one place where he allowed himself to think about those things that, outside of the water, he knew were better left alone. More than anything, swimming was his way of connecting back to Grace.


For that one uncle
A Bantu in My BathroomA Bantu in My Bathroom by Eusebius McKaiser:

A good friend of mine, Seth, confessed to me many years after we first met that he had a rather horrible thought the first time he saw me. He walked into my philosophy tutorial at the beginning of his university career and when he realised that I was the tutor, he thought, ‘Oh dear, my luck to be assigned the incompetent black tutor.’ That is the sort of confession one can only trot out if your friendship is more solid than the skull of a politician. I chuckled, and we laughed it off over a pint of lager – or three.

We didn’t need to analyse the confession. It was obvious what was going on: my skin colour was assumed to be carrying information about me. And in this case, my black skin carried the warning, ‘incompetent!’ The onus was on me to disprove the assumption. Only white tutors could be assumed to be competent unless proven to be useless. It was the other way round for black tutors.


Could I Vote DA?Could I Vote DA?: A Voter’s Dilemma by Eusebius McKaiser:

To be honest I feel sorry for Helen Zille sometimes. Especially as leader of the DA she must feel a bit like she’s stuck in the Hotel California: you can check out anytime you want, but you can never leave. There is no one who can currently replace her, and so even though she has been willing to step down as party leader, senior leaders would have none of it, including some of those who do not always agree with all of her strategic calls.

Let me start by being blunt about my take on Helen Zille. I think Helen Zille is a +god leader. She was the perfect person to build an excellent foundation for the DA in the post-Leon years. In fact, I would go a step further and suggest that she hasn’t yet been given adequate recognition within the party and within our political landscape for her role in opposition politics.

But, she’d be the wrong person to lead the party beyond 2012. It goes without saying it is too late for her to be ditched ahead of the 2012 elections. But soon after the 2012 elections the DA must search for a new leader.


Book details

  • A Bantu in My Bathroom: Debating Race, Sexuality and Other Uncomfortable South African Topics by Eusebius McKaiser
    EAN: 9781920434373
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

Image courtesy of I Am Second

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All Things Wild and Wonderful – New Books to Take Along on Your Epic Holiday Get Away

Stress, smog and soul-destroying traffic – all the things we get to escape come year-end. Whether you’ll be getting away to the bush, the beach or some other wild beyond, there is a book for you.

Here is a list of some of the fine South African books devoted to enjoying wild and wonderful things. Birding, star-gazing, spotting animals are covered, and so is enjoying beautiful landscapes and local flora. Burchell and travel pioneer Geoffrey Kent will provide inspiration for the travel-timid.

So, which epic holiday get away will it be for you?
Sasol 300 Easy-to-see BirdsSasol 300 maklik sigbare voëls van Suider-AfrikaNew Guide for Beginner Birders: Sasol 300 Easy-to-see Birds by Chevonne Reynolds and Nicholas Tye

This practical, straightforward guide to some of the most commonly seen birds in southern Africa is aimed at beginner birders, or even juniors. Less daunting than a full-blown field guide, it’s handy and accessible, combining simple text with clear artwork and photographs to introduce 300 of the region’s easy-to-see birds.

100 Common Bird Calls in East AfricaNew: 100 Common Bird Calls in East Africa by Dave Richards and Brian Finch, with Accompanying CD

Recognise birds by their calls with this handy package of CD and accompanying book. These will help identify the sounds made by a range of the most common and widely distributed East African bird species.

This is the perfect starting point for those who wish to develop their knowledge of bird calls.

Sky Guide Africa South 2016New from the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa: Sky Guide Africa South 2016

This annual publication is an invaluable resource for anyone who has even a passing interest in the night skies of southern Africa and is “… an absolute must for first-time star-gazers and professional astronomers alike”.
Freshwater LifeCharles Griffiths, Jenny Day and Mike Picker Present Freshwater Life – The First Field Guide of its Kind

Freshwater Life – the first illustrated field guide of its kind for the wider southern African region – describes a vast range of plant and animal groups in a single volume. A ground-breaking concept that encompasses diverse groups from the large and conspicuous vertebrates to the diverse microscopic taxa, the book facilitates identification and describes the ecology of more than 1 000 freshwater organisms.

101 Kruger TalesPresenting Jeff Gordon’s 101 Kruger Tales: Extraordinary Stories from Ordinary Visitors to the Kruger National Park

101 Kruger Tales contains first-hand accounts of sightings, scrapes and encounters in one of Africa’s greatest National Parks. It details hair-raising experiences from the Kruger Park’s roads, camps, picnic sites and walking trails.

Wherever you are, this book will transport you directly into the bush. It’s a book to keep by your bedside in Kruger, to dip into at home when you’re missing the bush, to lend to friends who’ve never visited Kruger, or to pore over before your next trip.

50 Must-see Geological Sites in South AfricaEnjoy Our Rich Geological Heritage with 50 Must-see Geological Sites in South Africa by Gavin Whitfield

South Africa has just about the richest geological heritage on the planet. By showcasing 50 must-see sites, this guide describes why, where and how to enjoy it.

The book presents 50 of the most recognisable and geologically interesting sites around South Africa, including some of palaeontological or historical renown and some of mining interest.

Grasses & Grazers of Botswana and the surrounding savannaPresenting Grasses & Grazers of Botswana and the Surrounding Savanna by Veronica Roodt

An accessible reference to the grasses and grazers of this region, Veronica Roodt’s book details the fascinating ways in which these plants and animals have evolved together.

Nature lovers, farmers, students and tourists who seek an in-depth look at the interactions between grasses and the grazers that depend on them for life need look no further than this invaluable guide.

The Impossible Five“Warm, Fluffy and Sexy”: Justin Fox Tells John Maytham about Searching for The Impossible Five

The well-known travel writer, novelist and photographer, Justin Fox, launched his latest book, The Impossible Five: One Man’s Search for South Africa’s Most Elusive Animals early in July at The Book Lounge.

Publishing manager, Marga Stoffer, reflected on how many visitors to the Kruger Park know about “the big five” and evaluate the success of a trip on how many of these creatures were spotted. Fox, who has gone on these kinds of trips with his parents since he was a child, wanted to go a step further and seek out animals that even the game rangers seldom get to see.

Pocket Guide: Wild Flowers of South AfricaDiscover Our Country’s Floral Splendour with Pocket Guide: Wild Flowers of South Africa by Braam van Wyk

Wild Flowers of South Africa covers some 260 flowers representing all of the region’s major vegetation types.

This book showcases some of the region’s diverse, strikingly beautiful floral splendours.
My first book of Southern African FrogsPresenting My First Book of Southern African Frogs by Jeanne Tarrant and Sally MacLarty (Includes CD)

Frogs are appealing and colourful creatures. Children may be familiar with stages of the frog’s curious life cycle, and see their eggs or tadpoles in local streams; and everyone has heard their calls. My First Book of Southern African Frogs introduces 55 different types of frog and includes a CD of their calls. A short introduction outlines key features and includes an illustration detailing their life cycle.

Zulu Plant NamesWhat’s in a Name? Adrian Koopman Explores Language, Culture and Plant Life in Zulu Plant Names

In this book Adrian Koopman details the complex relationship between plants, the Zulu language and Zulu culture.

Zulu Plant Names do not just identify plants, they tell us a lot more about the plant, or how it is perceived or used in Zulu culture.

Burchell's TravelsBurchell’s Travels by Susan Buchanan; Illustrated with over 100 Sketches and Paintings

Burchell’s Travels tells the story of Burchell’s journeys, bringing to life an important figure who has faded into historical obscurity. It is a fascinating account of what travel was like 200 years ago – reconstructed from the rich source of Burchell’s own writings.

Beautifully illustrated with over 100 of Burchell’s sketches and paintings, this is a perfect book for anyone interested in history, art, nature and travel.

SafariPresenting Safari: A Memoir of a Worldwide Travel Pioneer by Geoffrey Kent

Geoffrey Kent shares his secrets as an entrepreneur always on the edge of the travel industry and will detail the most unforgettable, daredevil and entertaining moments of his 50-year career with each chapter in the book focusing on a different trip and country. He will also present an inspiring bucket list of adventures for every class of traveler, as well as reveal inside tales from tours with his most famous clients.

Mooiloop!Presenting Mooiloop! The Book – The People, the Places and the Recipes as Seen on TV

The essence of the award-winning programme Mooiloop! (as seen on SABC 2) is captured in this book, which invites you to take South Africa’s provincial/regional routes and experience small-town South Africa.

Stop and get out … admire some of the breathtaking, picturesque settings, take a walk down the streets and explore the shops and places of interest

Wildlife Southern Africa National Parks and ReservesWatch an Elephant Tackling a Buffalo in the Kruger Park, and Find Your Own Incredible Sightings (Video)

Wildlife Southern Africa National Parks & Reserves covers all the major national parks and reserves in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Lesotho.

The guide includes an overview of Southern Africa with coverage of country facts, peace parks, malaria areas, time zones, cities and towns. This handy specialty atlas provide information boxes covering park size, fauna and flora, nearest town and airport location, contact details, camp facilities, accommodation and seasonal information

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Don’t Miss the Pre-Christmas Book Signing with 11 Local Authors at Exclusive Books Cavendish Square

Invitation to the Pre-Christmas Book Signing


Exclusive Books Cavendish along with the Cape Times are hosting a Pre-Christmas Book Signing Event.

The event will take place at Exclusive Books Cavendish on Friday, 11 December, from 5 to 7 PM.

11 local authors will be present and signing copies of their books. The authors are: Lauren Beukes, Justin Fox, Rahla Xenopoulos, Joanne Hichens, Paige Nick, Kathryn White, Sindiwe Magona, Peter Church, Jade Gibson, Mike Nicol and Jacqui L’Ange.

Don’t miss it!

Maverick: Extraordinary women from South Africa’s pastBroken MonstersThe Impossible FiveTribe
Sweet ParadiseDeath By CarbsPens Behaving BadlyAnna Peters' Year of Cooking DangerouslyChasing The Tails of My Father’s CattleBlue Cow Sky
Glowfly DanceWoesPower PlayThe Seed Thief

Event Details

  • Date: Friday, 11 December 2015
  • Time: 5 PM for 7 PM
  • Venue: Exclusive Books Cavendish Square
    Lower Mall
    Cavendish Square
    Vineyard Road
    Claremont | Map
  • Authors: Lauren Beukes, Justin Fox, Rahla Xenopoulos, Joanne Hichens, Paige Nick, Kathryn White, Sindiwe Magona, Peter Church, Jade Gibson, Mike Nicol and Jacqui L’Ange

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Jenny Crwys-Williams Reveals Her 2015 Book of the Year Shortlists

Jenny Crwys-Williams has announced the shortlists for her Book of the Year, in the categories Cookbooks, Fiction, Non-fiction and Coffee Table Books.

The overall winners will be announced on Saturday, 5 December, at the Jenny & Co Big Book Brunch.

One lucky winner, who accurately predicts the winning book at the brunch, will walk away with a hamper of all the books on the shortlist.

Crwys-Williams calls the list “a great guide to seriously enticing reads you might want to buy as Christmas gifts or, of course, to treat yourself”.

* * * * *

From Jenny & Co:


The Simple Secrets To Cooking Everything BetterThe Simple Secrets to Cooking Everything Better by Matt Preston
Even if you wanted to, you couldn’t keep either Matt Preston or Aussie publishing down. Both are the real thing. I wish I could find a fault with this generously-sized book, but I can’t. Filled with quirky humour, excellent artwork and Matt’s own recipes, I would give this book to anyone filled with confidence that they’d thank me forever. And I love his double page cooking secrets which divide the book with witty common sense.
More Life's a Beach CottageMore Life’s a Beach Cottage by Neil Roake
By the time I finished paging through this book I was slavering for banana plantations, South Coast heat, dolphins, sand so hot you scream and the world’s most lethal Bloody Marys you will probably never recover from, as you run across it. This book is so deliciously chilled you will probably emigrate south.
My Kind Of FoodMy Kind of Food by John Torode
John Torode is another down to earth Aussie who’s made it seriously big on Masterchef UK. Here’s his rip on contemporary family classics culled from his Oz childhood and his London foodie experiences. This is so simple you will want to faint – but you won’t because someone else will step in and fill that void. Clean, straightforward, touched with the NOW, a perfect wedding to build a dream on or just keeping up with the direction modern food is taking.
Mariana's Country KitchenMariana’s Country Kitchen: Food Through the Seasons by Mariana Esterhuizen, photography by Stephen Inggs
One of my small discoveries was finding Stanford, closer to Hermanus than to anywhere else. Enchanting un-tarred streets and still relatively untouched by decor luvvies, this book is all about what food ought to be. Which is why people queue to get into her bistro, Mariana’s. Filled with Cape hospitality and organic love, this is wholesome heaven made even more blissful by Stephen Inggs’ “I want it NOW” photography.
Anna Peters' Year of Cooking DangerouslyAnna Peters’ Year of Cooking Dangerously by Kathryn White
No-one thinks this is a cookbook, but it is. Anna Peters loses her man and tries to cook her way back into his heart. From culinary disaster after disaster and love affair after love affair, Anna expands her culinary repertoire until even the simpletons among us could make love and a souffle at the same time. You’ve got to love this book.

What Will People SayWhat Will People Say? by Rehana Rossouw
A sure-fire short listed novel for next year’s Sunday Times Fiction Award. The year is 1986 and you can hear the music pumping. Apartheid was dying but it still bit as it walked alongside the poverty of the Cape Flats where the tumult of the revolution was in full swing. Ten years ago, Soweto was aflame. Now it is time for the first of many commemorations as families struggled to bring their children up decently in the midst of perfectly envisaged gang wars. I fell in love with Nadia David’s An Imperfect Blessing set in the same period in the same city – and I’ve fallen in love with this fine novel.
The ReactiveThe Reactive by Masande Ntshanga
If ever there was a generational book, it is this one. Up for prizes everywhere, not just in South Africa, Ntshanga is someone to watch. Set in Cape Town, a city that has lost its shimmer, filled with the young and drifting, drugs, urban decay – and yet, the links with past, more settled lives inexorably call. The book quivers with life, with prose that delights, with a story that is both poignant and intimate and infinitely memorable.
A Brief History of Seven KillingsA Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
What is there to say that the Man Booker judges didn’t say about this simply extraordinary novel woven around an attempted assassination of Bob Marley? Almost too big (nearly 800 pages) to gulp down without pausing to consider what you have read, anyone turning the pages will delight in the lyricism of the language, the audacity of the plot and the delight in reading something that is an instant international classic. From now on, my conversations will begin with: “Yes, but have you read A Brief History of Seven Killings?”
The Dream HouseThe Dream House by Craig Higginson
Eschewing the Western Cape and giving us a break from the Karoo, Craig Higginson’s novel is set somewhere around Nottingham Road in the Midlands. Dark is falling, an old woman sits in her wheelchair as her farmhouse is disinterred ahead of her move to Durban. She listens intently as the kitchen door quietly opens. She shows no fear as a man walks into her sitting room, carrying a silent menace with him. So begins a beautifully crafted and immersing novel asking uneasy and provocative questions that insist on responses.
Up Against the NightUp Against The Night by Justin Cartwright
Justin Cartwright left South Africa for Europe 40 years ago but he comes back often enough to keep the pulse racing and for his novelist’s eye to examine what is happening here. Frank (like Cartwright) is descended from Piet Retief and like Cartwright returns to the country of his birth every now and again. He decides to take his new love to KwaZulu Natal to see if it ‘talks’ to him. In the meantime, and so acutely observed I was in stitches, Frank’s errant nephew, just escaped from the Scientologists in the US, returns asking for alms and family bonding. The result is a novel of great power, hilarious scenes and deadly descriptions of our democracy.

Stoked!Stoked! by Chris Bertish
If ever there was a South African story of great endeavour, this is it. After all, this skinny Cape Town boy managed to win the Mavericks Big Wave Invitational surfing event without any sponsorship at all. Now he is famous not only in the surfing world but in the real one as well, inspiring not only the thousands of wannabe surfers but also people whose dreams are more modest and who surf alongside Chris and achieve in their own field. Beautifully written, this book will make your pulse race and then some!
On the MoveOn the Move by Oliver Sacks
As the neurologist, writer and Renaissance man, Oliver Sacks was dying, he continued to write, he continued to love and he continued to wring as much as he could out of every remaining second, questioning the way his brain was working, as he had done for most of his life. This is just a glory of a memoir and it reminds me inexorably of Christopher Hitchen’s last book, written almost entirely as he was dying and as irreverent as ever. On the Move has been described as “filled with his restless energy” but there is so much more to this touching and sometimes astonishing memoir that will linger with you – and with the stories of some of his patients.
Burchell's TravelsBurchell’s Travels by Susan Buchanan
What a rare plant this book is: filled with the drawings and paintings by one of South Africa’s most outstanding naturalists, William John Burchell. By the time his extraordinary four year journey through the Cape ended, he had covered 7 000 mostly unexplored terrain in his ox waggon filled with the impedimenta of science. He collected over 50 000 plant and animal specimens – but that is the least of this book which takes us back to an unspoiled country of extraordinary beauty. His paintings are so vivid it is almost possible to walk within them. This is a book to pour over and wonder.
Empire, War & Cricket in South AfricaEmpire, War and Cricket by Dean Allen
Little did Dean Allen know when he drove to Matjiesfontein for a short break that he would discover so many stories! He ended up writing a best selling book about a village built by a canny Scot, discovered once-famous cricket matches were played on the stony fields and, as he disinterred the past of the one-time health resort, that he would bring back to life of an era of high colonialism in this outpost of the Karoo where anything seemed possible for the settlers, even if history ended up by mostly bypassing everything they created here. Fascinating, and a really great read.
We Have Now Begun Our DescentWe Have Now Begun Our Descent by Justice Malala
Justice Malala has written veritable fury of a book, his anger almost tripping him up it is so powerful. Dissecting South Africa’s current plight, he spares no-one as he analyses the state of this nation and rips into the corruption he (and we) see all around him. Unlike so many books attempting to explain our politics, lack of vision and deplorable education, Malala ends his book with a paean of thanks to Thuli Madonsela and, in his last chapter, outlines how we could become again a respected and respectable modern nation. I found it breathlessly inspirational and quite terrifying.

nullMozambique by Moira Forjaz
This photographic book spans a decade in the life of Mozambique (1975-1985) and Moira Forjaz, the photographer and observer, has brought that country to life,from forgotten Portuguese and Arab forts to fishermen bringing in their catch, from modest houses to the struggle as we catch glimpses of Graca Machel in khaki military gear to Ruth First, from troubadours and to lonely old men sipping their coffee in deserted cafes. It is a beautiful and sensitive memoir about a time in a near neighbour’s history in a time of revolution.
A City RefractedA City Refracted by Graeme Williams
Joburg as you’ve never seen it before, dreamscapes and shadows and colours, some glimpsed at the end of a long corridor or through a half open door. Beautifully produced, this is a unique and artistic depiction of a complex, energetic city where the buzz never stops.
365 Postcards for Ants365 Postcards by Lorraine Loots
Easily the most beautiful of this year’s crop of coffee table books is this very little jewel hiding behind a modest white cover which gives no hint of the magic which lies within. For 365 days Lorraine painted a miniature painting and here they all are: meerkats and beer, Cape buildings and bontebuck, picnic baskets and the Vredehoek quarry, malachite kingfishers imprisoned on the page but just waiting to fly – it is just a diamond from beginning to end. If ever there was a magical book this is it.
We are the ChampionsWe are the Champions: The Champion Trees of South Africa by Enrico & Erna Liebenberg
This is a truly wonderful photographic record of all of South Africa’s 75 Champion Trees – and you all know how much I adore trees! It is the first extensive and complete collection of full-tree photographs of the wonderful tree heritage of this country. Did you know The oldest known measured tree is 1,800 years old? Or that The oldest planted Oak tree is 300 years old?
This fantastic book includes Champions such as the Post Office Tree, The Slave Tree, the Ruth Fischer tree and Marriott’s Lane. A perfect gift for every tree-lover and conservationist, and anyone who believes in protecting South Africa’s natural heritage for future generations.
Ultimate Star WarsUltimate Star Wars by Ryder Windham and Patricia Barr, forward by Anthony Daniels
Who DOESN’T love Star Wars?? This is a luscious and comprehensively detailed book with an unparalleled selection of Star Wars information – planets, cities, characters, space vehicles, blasters – you name it, this book has got it. Packed full of facts, info and gorgeous photos from all 6 Star Wars movies – it’ll keep kids, boys, men and every Star Wars devotee on the planet engrossed for hours. The only drawback? I’ll have to start saving for the Episode VII reference book which is sure to follow. An utter delight, and worth every penny.


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Join Toast Coetzer, Erns Grundling and a Host of Writers for the Launch of Ons Klyntji 2015 at The Book Lounge

Invitation to the launch of Ons Klyntji 2015

Ons KlynjiThe Book Lounge and the team behind Ons Klyntji would like to invite you to the launch of the 2015 edition of “the first ever Afrikaans magazine”.

Ons Klyntji was established in 1896, resurrected in the 1990s, and is currently edited by Toast Coetzer and Erns Grundling. It comes out once a year, and features left of centre poetry, short fiction and non-fiction in both English and Afrikaans as well as photography and graphic art.

The event will take place at The Book Lounge on Thursday, 3 December, at 5:30 for 6 PM. There will be readings by Coetzer and Grundling, as well as Danie Marais, Rosa Lyster, Le Roux Schoeman, Nick Mulgrew, Churchhil Naudé, Sindi Busuku-Mathese, Hanru Niemand, Alice Inggs, Mick Raubenheimer, James Honnibal, Andries de Beer, Louis Roux, Luan Serfontein, Liebet Jooste and more.

Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 3 December 2015
  • Time: 5:30 for 6 PM
  • Venue: The Book Lounge
    71 Roeland Street
    Cape Town | Map
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine
  • RSVP:, 021 462 2425

Check out these books featuring writing by Ons Klyntji contributors:

South AfricaNaweekPruimtwak en skaduboksersAdults OnlyThe Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology

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Knotting Your Brain Over Festive Gifts? Check out the 2015 Exclusive Books Christmas Catalogue for Ideas

Does the very idea of Christmas make you break out in a cold sweat? Is your festive season countdown calendar an endless list of futile ideas (because really, how many creative gifts can you buy someone you’ve known for years now?) Or do you simply avoid the issue until Christmas Eve, and then pray for Groundhog Day?

However you approach the holiday that inevitably turns into a time of giving – and more giving – the 2015 Exclusive Books Christmas Catalogue will take the guesswork out of gift-shopping.

There is something for everyone in the Exclusive Books Christmas Catalogue – from fiction to poetry, children’s books to young adult, even books for inspired home cooks or avid gardeners.

For all that the Exclusive Books Christmas Catalogue has to offer, have a look at the contents page (click to see the entire list):



Here are a few of the local books in the 2015 Exclusive Books Christmas Catalogue:

The Book of MemoryThe Magistrate of GowerSweet MedicineFlame in the SnowBeer SafariVlakwaterImmer wes
SkarlakenDie verdwyning van Billy KatzDJ Opperman - Versamelde poësieRympies vir pikkies en peuters’n Goeie dag vir boomklimDie huis van ryeTwo Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights
Jane’s Delicious Urban GardeningGolden LionDonker stroomSugar ManThe Supper Club
Burchell's TravelsShed Happens50 Must-see Geological Sites in South AfricaThe Secret Society
Still GrazingWe Have Now Begun Our DescentJack Parow - Die ou met die snor by die barRhodes Rage

The catalogue was launched last week Friday at Exclusive Books Rosebank, with special presentations and activities by Suzelle DIY (SuzelleDIY: The Book), Lucy Corne (Beer Safari), Jane Griffiths (Jane’s Delicious Urban Gardening) and Rico of Madame & Eve (Shed Happens).


Read Monique Bernic’s blog post on the event:

We were then able to select our next activity between container gardening with Jane Griffiths, learning to draw the characters from Madam & Eve with Rico, tasting craft beer with Lucy Corne and decorating cookies with Elli Saayman in celebration of the release of the special edition of Alice in Wonderland.

I opted for the container gardening due to my background in Conservation and got to put together and take home an upside-down potted parsley which now graces my front door. We learned about the water-holding properties of peat (an essential in this drought!) and the soil enriching characteristics of earthworms.

Annetjie van Wynegaard (@Annetjievw) live tweeted the festivities:



Press release:

Exclusive Books Christmas Catalogue Event

Exclusive Books was delighted to have hosted media, publishers and clients at this year’s Christmas Catalogue Event at the Rosebank Exclusive Books store this past Friday.

As part of the festivities, Exclusive Books announced the 2015 Christmas Catalogue titles, among which were highly esteemed authors and one very special anniversary. CEO of Exclusive Books, Benjamin Trisk delivered a warm welcome to all attending guests and spoke heartily about the industry and Exclusive Books’ mission to keep the legacy of print books alive. After his speech guests quickly moved on to an exciting ‘make your own handbag’ activity with the comical and energetic Suzelle DIY.

After Suzelle’s hilarious delivery, the order of events continued and Rico Schacherl, Jane Griffiths, Lucy Corne and Elli Saayman kept the crowd thoroughly entertained with their activities. Publishers and media were invited to gather around the specially designed activity tables. All were in for a treat! Rico taught his guests a thing or two about cartoon drawing. Some of his guests’ attempts were dismal but Rico kept his students going, encouraging them to focus more on the pleasure of the creative exercise. Lucy Corne’s beer tasting table was a popular draw card, especially amongst the gents. The result? Great conversation, plenty of laughs and quite a few interesting facts about beer. Jane was not at all phased by her mall surrounding. She immediately set to work and got her hands (quite) dirty. Inspired by her enthusiasm, Jane’s table of guests all did their best at urban gardening and made their very own upside down pot plants. The final thrill of the afternoon was Elli Saayman’s cookie designs. To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carol’s Alice in Wonderland, Elli’s table designed the most exquisite Alice in Wonderland cookies using glitter, icing, frosting and a rainbow of other sweets.

The Christmas Catalogue Event was a great success. The hosts went all out with the food and drinks menu too. The beautifully displayed tables of cheese boards, macaroons and other desserts were mouth-wateringly gorgeous. The endless supply of flat white coffees from the Exclusive Books cafe was certainly a win with guests, especially those who’d burnt through the midnight oil to ensure they didn’t miss out on this exclusive event.

All guests thoroughly appreciated the joys and spoils that the Exclusive Books team put together. We wait with childish anticipation on what the team will put together for 2016!


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