Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Aspiring children’s book illustrator? Apply for a paid internship!

» read article

Open Box Library Project 2018

Open Book Festival has been committed to driving a love of books and reading amongst learners since its inception. Fundamental to this has been the Open Book School Library Project which has seen us put libraries into Matthew Goniwe Memorial High School, Parkhurst Primary and Westridge High School. The experience is one that has been hugely rewarding but which has also come with its own challenges.

As with all aspects of Open Book, we are constantly looking for ways to do things better and it is with this in mind that we reworked the library project to come up with something that doesn’t overwhelm, doesn’t require additional staff or space and which can be kept up to date with relatively little money. Welcome to Open Box! These mini mobile libraries are placed in classrooms, allowing teachers and learners access to the resource through the day.

St Mary’s Primary School
Located in the Cape Town CBD, St Mary’s Primary was ideally suited to be our pilot for the Open Box Project. Teachers showed huge interest in having access to books through the day in their classrooms, the school is within walking distance of the Book Lounge (which is closely associated with Open Book Festival) and learners at the school come predominantly from disenfranchised communities.

2015 – 2017:
2015 saw us piloting the Open Box project and we are delighted with how it worked. In total we placed 3 boxes at St Mary’s Primary and they are now in daily use in the Grade R, 1 and 2 classrooms. In 2016, we placed an additional 3 boxes in the Grade 3, 4 and 5 classrooms and in 2017, we placed boxes in the Grade 6 and 7 classrooms. The boxes include books, games, materials for activities and other resources that are relevant to both teachers and learners. Tied to the boxes, were the events we ran there through the year, from readings and activities through to author visits.

Selection Process:
We include at least 5 books per learner in each box. We meet with teachers ahead of purchasing so that they can outline the kinds of books that will best suit them, both in terms of their curricula and challenges faced by their learners. Those conversations enable us to stock each box with titles most relevant to both learners and teachers. The titles include a mix of fiction and non-fiction titles as well as books in different languages and aimed at different reading ages.

While we have completed the box handovers at St Mary’s, our relationship with them will continue and where possible we will organise events for learners. The focus of Open Box though will shift and we identified Siyazingisa Primary School in Gugulethu as the school we are working with for the next few years. The school is part of the same circuit as St Mary’s (Circuit 2).

The principal is Mrs Nonkonyana. She has been based at the school for over 20 years and is excited to be working with us on this. There are 3 Grade R classes and those will be our starting point. We met with the principal and teachers at the end of 2017 to discuss what books would be most relevant to their classrooms and we will be working on getting those together in the coming months. There are roughly 35 learners in each class and we will be aiming for a 5:1 ratio of books to learners. Ideally the majority of those books will be in isiXhosa.

The proposed dates for the handovers are:
23 April 2018: 3 boxes handed over with partial supply of books to each box
7 June 2018: Partial supply of books to each box
31 July 2018: Final supply of books to each box
The dates listed above may change. Each of the handovers will be linked to storytelling

Contact Frankie Murrey (Open Book Festival coordinator) for more information: +27 82 958 7332 /





» read article

Headlining authors for the 21st Time of the Writer International Festival announced!

Compiled by TOW

Fifteen authors from across Africa and the world are coming to Durban during this year’s 21st Time of the Writer International Festival that is set to take place from 12 – 17 March 2018. The writers convene under this year’s theme of “Changing the Narrative” and will engage with this notion as it relates to their work and the direction in which literature is moving towards in this context.

Announcing this year’s line-up, the Acting-Director of the CCA, Ms. Chipo Zhou said:

We are very excited to be hosting Time of the Writer yet again and celebrating the diverse voices that make up our African literary continent. The CCA is grateful for the support from our various stakeholders, without which this festival would not be possible. In an ever changing global village, the backing of the literary giants in attendance this year, is most humbling, 21 years on. We look forward to an intellectually engaging event that will entertain and challenge our creativity.

Program and Ticket Sales

This 21st edition of Time of the Writer will consist of a day program that is hosted in four community libraries (Austerville, Westville, Chesterville Extension and Tongaat), art centres and schools around eThekwini where workshops and panel discussions will take place. In the evening panel discussions will be hosted at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre at University of KwaZulu Natal, Howard College. The full program will be released on the social media channels of the festival. Tickets for the evening program are available on Computicket, however the day program is free of charge.

Theme: Changing the Narrative

Ms. Chipo Zhou, Acting-Director of festival organiser CCA, said: “Nelson Mandela once said: “The education I received was a British education, in which British ideas, British culture, British institutions, were automatically assumed to be superior. There was no such thing as African culture.” A very sad statement which to a great extent, even now, speaks the reality that is our education system in Africa. A new generation of scholars is on the rise, demanding recognition of the African intellect and its contribution to literature, an “African Renaissance” if you will. We cannot rewrite history, but we can question and maybe alter it. And most definitely, we will write the future. In the words of Kakwe Kasoma, it is time to correct this colonial hangover. As we celebrate Mandela’s centenary year, it is our hope that we can reflect fairly on this history and begin a new chapter as we own our stories and change the narrative.”

Meeting established and upcoming writers

Fifteen writers will participate during Time of the Writer 2018:

  • Award winning creative author, Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀, from Nigeria;
  • Experimental author, Jennipher M. Zulu, from Zambia;
  • Dynamic author, Kafula Mwila, from Zambia;
  • Poet, performance master and author of 12 books, Lesego Rampolokeng, from Johannesburg, South Africa;
  • Gritty and intense author, Luka Mwango, from Zambia;
  • Author, award-winning filmmaker, recording artist, and distinguished professor, MK Asante, from the USA;
  • Best-selling author, Refiloe Moahloli, from Mthatha, South Africa;
  • Outspoken political commentator, scholar and musician, Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh, from Johannesburg, South Africa;
  • isiZulu, short story and children’s author, Themba Qwabe from Durban, South Africa;
  • Unathi Slasha who reimagines and subverts Nguni folklore to write the unlanguaged world that is South Africa today, from Port Elizabeth, South Africa;
  • Award winning novelist and short story writer, Yewande Omotoso, born in Barbados, raised in Nigeria and based Cape Town, South Africa;
  • Novelist, journalist, poet and academic, Alain Mabanckou, born in Congo, based in France;
  • Professor of political economy, Patrick Bond, from Johannesburg, South Africa, born in Belfast, Northern Ireland;
  • Author, politician, diplomat, poet, academic, journalist, and cultural activist Lindiwe Mabuza from Newcastle, South Africa
  • Author of the University of Johannesburg Debut Fiction Prize winning novel The Yearning, Mohale Mashigo, from Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Six days of literature, books, panel discussions and workshops

Time of the Writer starts on Monday evening 12 March at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre with an opening night that introduces all participating writers of the festival.

Key elements of the festival are the other evenings at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre that highlight some of the participants and engages them in a panel discussion.

As part of the day programs the writers will be visiting various art centres and community libraries, which include The George Campbell Museum, Mangosuthu University of Technology in Umlazi and Luthuli Museum in Groutville for various panel discussions and workshops.

This year’s festival offers a special focus on children’s literature, which will see a storytelling session on Saturday 17 March and panel discussions around that during the week facilitated by Dr Gcina Mhlophe. On Saturday 17 March Dr Lindiwe Mabuza will be launching two children’s books.

Young Talent

High school learners are encouraged to submit their short stories for the annual short story competition held in conjunction with Time of the Writer Festival. The competition aims to encourage creative expression in young people while functioning as a springboard for the future writers of South Africa. With the festival’s long standing commitment toward nurturing a culture of reading and writing, this competition has received a wide appeal that continues to grow with each edition of the festival. Winners will be awarded with cash prices, book vouchers and festival tickets.

Meet the writers and get your books signed

Adams Book Shop will host a pop-up bookshop at the foyer of the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre with new and older work of the participating authors. Many of the participating writers will be available to sign books.

Various book launches will take place during the festival, details will be announced closer to the festival.

Time of the Writer is presented by the Centre for Creative Arts (University of KwaZulu-Natal), the 21st Time of the Writer is made possible by support from eThekwini Municipality, National Department of Arts and Culture, National Arts Council and Alliance Française Durban. The Centre for Creative Arts is housed in the School of Arts, College of Humanities at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

» read article

Hartpionier by die Woordfees

Christiaan Barnard is ’n naam wat almal dadelik herken. Ná die geskiedkundige eerste hartoorplanting, 50 jaar gelde, was sy naam op almal se lippe en in al die media. Sy navorsing lei tot tegnieke wat steeds wêreldwyd gebruik word en sy roem verseker dat hy ʼn permanente plek in geskiedenisboeke het.

Wat minder bekend is, is die rol wat sy navorsingspan in die lewe (en internasionale aansien) van die hartchirurg gespeel het. Daar was dokters en tegnici wat nooit erkenning gekry het vir hul werk nie en daar was verpleegsters en susters van wie net die pasiënte geweet het. En daar was Winston Wicomb, die Volkswagen-werktuigkundige wat uit die bloute aangestel is om beheer van Barnard se navorsingslaboratorium oor te neem.

Winston, die jonger en donkerder broer van die meer bekende Randall, se lewensverhaal lees soos ’n moderne sprokie. As kind moes hy telkens agter sy ma se laaikas wegkruip as iemand aan hul deur geklop het. Terwyl die res van die gesin die apartheidsinspekteurs kon flous, was die arme Winston baie duidelik nie ‘suiwer blank’ nie. Die familie se pogings om die twee seuns as ‘wit’ geklassifiseer te kry, het veroorsaak dat beide Winston en Randall se geboortedatums aangepas was. En al het Winston uiteindelik op papier ‘blanke’ status verkry, het sy voorkoms enige hoop op vaste werk gekortwiek.

Amos van der Merwe beskryf Winston se jeug in Vital Remains, the Story of the Coloured Boy behind the Wardrobe. Die verhaal herinner die leser wel aan die werklikhede van apartheid, maar is deurspek met humor en deernis. Vital Remains is ’n eerlike weergawe van ’n gekleurde seun se ervarings in die 60’s en 70’s, sonder om die storielyn met politiek te besoedel.

Winston se verhaal is uitsonderlik. Hy herleef sy kinderjare en sy vroeë drome om mediese geskiedenis te maak. Hy vertel van sy pogings om universiteitstoelating te kry en die ironie daarvan dat hy, as sogenaamde nie-blanke, diensplig moes doen. Geld en werk was altyd ’n probleem en derhalwe verkoop hy ensiklopedieë, werk in ’n klerewinkel, word betaalmeester op die hawe en oes oë in die lykshuis. Hy word uiteindelik toegelaat om in te skryf vir ’n BSc-kursus by UCT, maar selfs met hierdie graad bly hy werkloos weens sy velkleur. Noodgedwonge moet hy terugval op sy ou stokperdjie: Om Volkswagens in sy agterplaas te diens en herstel.

Terwyl hy pamflette op die universiteitskampus uitdeel om hierdie dienste te adverteer, merk hy die goue Mercedes langs die pad staan. Die lenige figuur van Chris Barnard langs die voertuig is ’n prentjie van moedeloosheid en Winston gryp die kans aan om die hartman te hulp te snel. ’n Week later is hy in bevel van Barnard se navorsingslaboratorium en dis hier waar Winston uiteindelik mediese geskiedenis maak. Hy ontwerp en bou ’n apparaat om harte mee te vervoer – maar gaan dit werk? Dit is egter nie waar hierdie ongelooflike storie eindig nie.

Vital Remains is ’n storie van hoop, liefde en deursettingsvermoë. Dit vertel van toeval, rebellie, onwaarskynlike gebeure en onlogiese gevolge – soos dit in almal se lewens soms gebeur. Feite is voorwaar vreemder as fiksie! Dis ’n verhaal om te koester as ’n kosbare stukkie geskiedenis, maar ook as ’n aanmoediging vir gewone mense om bo politiek uit te styg en in hulself te glo.

Die Woordfees is dus trots om Winston en die skrywer van Vital Remains kans te gee om met Hanlie Retief oor die boek te gesels by Die Boeketent, om 15h30 op 6 Maart 2018. Winston, wat sy navorsing in die VSA voortgesit het en sodoende ’n bekende in internasionale wetenskaplike kringe geword het, reis spesiaal van Seattle om die geleentheid by te woon.

Vital Remains word uitgegee deur Naledi en is beskikbaar by

Book details

» read article

Reading revolution reaches deep rural schools

By Michael Cekiso, Story Powered Schools Project Manager

What’s the best way to improve a child’s school results across the board? What if there could be one magical intervention that could skyrocket a child’s progress in every area of their lives? What a dream it would be for funders. What a gamechanger it would be for learners! As it turns out, there is a gamechanger: books.

Policy experts, educational specialists, and statisticians all agree: a child who reads and is read aloud to, is a child who learns. In fact, reading proficiency is the number one indicator of future academic success greater even than a child’s economic background or school choice. But what does this mean for South African children? The short answer is: a challenge.

Books are expensive and disposable income is tight. What’s published depends on what makes publishers the most profit and how many children’s stories have you seen in isiZulu or isiXhosa recently?

These are predominantly the mother tongues of children living in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal who are now well into the swing of 2018 and have either just started or are back at school. What that looks like for millions of children across SA is peak hour traffic jams, homework, and lost lunch boxes. But for children living in the rural areas of these provinces – it looks radically different.

In the Eastern Cape, for example, the lack of basic facilities is heart-breaking. Only 26% of schools in the province have a library, and only 10% of learners may borrow books. It will be no surprise then to discover that school results are just as poor and compounded by poor economic circumstances. Many children are attending school on an empty tummy, do not live with their parents, and live in homes without toilets. South African children simply aren’t getting the basic tools they need to make the leap out of poverty.

If access to books makes the difference between a child who can and can’t read, in one generation it makes the difference between a country that is economically thriving and one which is caught in a poverty trap. But rather than feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to remember that small actions can have big results, if they are sustained.

2017 was the first year of our pilot project, Story Powered Schools, which introduced the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign’s proven approach to literacy development to 240 rural schools in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. These are schools that have been given a powerful injection to move progress forward, schools that have been given books and literacy support.

Based in areas that would otherwise receive almost no developmental opportunities, these schools were identified by the Department of Basic Education who brought District Education officials on board to help with a roll-out that included principals, teachers, and community members. We employed 48 ‘Story Sparkers’ and eight Literacy Mentors from local communities to keep fanning the flames of our big idea.

How did it work? Every school that participated received five hanging libraries, one suited for each grade from R to 4. These mobile units each housed 150 exciting storybooks for children in their mother tongue as well as English. And, every fortnight, schools received copies of the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment supplement packed with bilingual stories and activities to keep any reading club motivated.

Although supplements are available in newspapers across the provinces, they often don’t reach deep rural areas, but, putting story power back in to the hands of communities, we made a commitment to take supplements to them and well over half a million were donated and delivered last year.

It doesn’t end there. Through continued face-to-face support, we made sure that each school received weekly visits from our Story Sparkers, who in turn were paid a stipend. Not a huge amount, but in many cases, it made a significant difference in their lives. Some financed studies through UNISA, others were finally able to purchase that two-bedroom house for their families. It’s a project that has knock-on benefits for the whole community.

And, although it’s hard to benchmark direct benefits – that depends on schools having the time to participate in far more monitoring and evaluation activities than they have resources for – what we have seen has been encouraging. Not one school we approached opted out.

Close to 100 000 children were reached last year and 799 reading clubs were launched by school children, parents, and community members. Schools reported a significant decrease in absenteeism and late-coming, and children became excited to attend schools where there were steady streams of new stories to feed their minds and imaginations. Teachers also noticed an increase in confidence with children telling stories and discussing ideas in class. Stories, it surprises none of us to hear, make children excited.

And that was just our first year! 2018 sees the graduation of our 2017 school group, and the intake of 244 new schools across the Umgungundlovu and iLembe districts of KZN and the Bizana, Lusikisiki, Mount Ayliff and Maluti districts in the Eastern Cape where we aim to keep changing the narrative of our schools, communities, and nation one story at a time.

Story Powered Schools is a Nal’ibali initiative endorsed by the Department of Basic Education and made possible by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). For more information about the campaign or the power of reading and storytelling, visit: and

» read article

Johannesburg extends library hours in 11 regional libraries

By Nonhlanhla Sifumba, member of the Mayoral Committee, Community Development Department

The City of Joburg’s Executive Mayor, Cllr Herman Mashaba, pronounced in the 2017 State of the City’s address that the City will extend library hours to some of its regional libraries in line with demand, and to redress the imbalances of the past.

The programme was launched by the Executive Mayor accompanied by myself, the Member of the Mayoral Committee for Community Development, on the 3rd of June 2017.

Since the extension of the operating hours from June 2017 to date, 11 908 more users have benefited. Libraries are a fountain of knowledge, and with the smart initiatives of the City, users have access to Wi-Fi, connecting them to internet learning resource and potential economic opportunities.

The extended library hours are in line with this administration’s priority to serve the forgotten people of Johannesburg by extending facility operating hours.

The operating hours have been extended to 11 libraries across the City:

• Diepsloot: Region A;
• Ivory Park North: Region A;
• Randburg: Region B;
• Florida: Region C;
• Protea North: Region D;
• Jabavu: Region D;
• Sandton: Region E;
• Yeoville: Region F;
• Ennerdale Extension 9: Region G;
• Orange Farm: Region G; and
• Johannesburg City Library: Region F.

Our libraries will now operate for additional 4 hours from 13h00 – 17h00 on Saturdays. This is to allowing working residents, who often have no time to visit our libraries, access to these facilities.

The extension also targets students from previously forgotten communities who need to study, but find their home environments are not conducive to productive studying over the weekends.

The Library Information Services (LIS) directorate, under Community Development in the City, is also exploring the possibility of increasing the number of libraries that offer extended hours in the following areas:

Kaalfontein: Region A;
Matholesville: Region; C
Paterson Park: Region E; and
Driezik, Lehae and Naturena: Region G.

» read article

World Read Aloud Day: over one million children reached!

World Read Aloud Day was celebrated on the first of February 2018 and South Africans certainly made a significant contribution to the 24 hours dedicated to reading aloud to children, thus encouraging a love of books and ensuring an increase in literacy achievements.

Nal’ibali – the reading for enjoyment campaign – called on South Africans to contribute towards creating a South Africa where children read for enjoyment, meaning and understanding, emphasising the value of reading aloud to children:

Reading aloud to a child is one of the most important things a parent and caregiver can do with children. Not only does it build a strong language foundation, it introduces vocabulary and can help develop empathy, curiosity and critical thinking.This World Read Aloud Day we’re calling on YOU to add your pledge to read to the children in your life.

This year’s story was ‘The final minute’ written by Zukiswa Wanner (available to download in all 11 official languages) and over one million (1 294 345, to be precise) children countrywide were treated to a reading!

Viva, World Read Aloud Day, viva!

» read article

Book Dash is looking for a project manager!

Book Dash gathers volunteer creative professionals to create new, African storybooks that anyone can freely translate and distribute and their looking for a project manager!

Children in South Africa need more books, but they cost too much purchased from publishers. The cheapest books have no publisher – then the only cost is printing. So our participants do the work of publishers in a single day. After that, anyone can get print runs sponsored and put finished books into the hands of children.

We believe every child should own a hundred books by the age of five. In South Africa, that means giving 600 million free books to children who could never afford to buy them. Every day we lose, more children grow up unable to read and write well, and to enjoy the worlds that books open up.

If you’re passionate about encouraging – and ensuring – a love of reading and literature among South African children, look no further – click here to apply!

» read article

Book Bites: 4 February

Published in the Sunday Times

Trade SecretsTrade Secrets
Short.Sharp.Stories, Tattoo Press, R240

As Yewande Omotoso remarks in the foreword, the stories in Trade Secrets range from the futuristic to the bad old days: “You’re a fighter pilot, you’re a young girl getting a haircut, suddenly you know magic…” But a decent collection also emphasises the connections among the stories, like a good mixtape. Trade Secrets does. My favourites were Mishka Hoosen’s powerful take on gay longing and girlhood, Wedding Henna; Kamil Naicker’s story of intimacy and euthanasia, The Liberator, and Darrel Bristow-Bovey’s funny/terrible tale with a wheelchair as its axis, An Act of God – his best fiction yet. Buy this book. – Diane Awerbuck

In the Midst of WinterIn the Midst of Winter
Isabel Allende, Simon & Schuster, R285

Despite its improbable plot, the novel’s concerns with the plight of displaced people make it a worthwhile read. It is literally and metaphorically midwinter for the three protagonists. During the worst snowstorm in memory, in Brooklyn in 2016, academic Richard Bowmaster collides with a vehicle driven by Evelyn Ortega, an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala. Although the damage is minimal, the situation is serious: Evelyn has taken the car without the permission of her employer; and there is a corpse in the boot. At a loss, Richard calls on his Chilean colleague Lucia Maraz for assistance. The trio, all of whom have harrowing backgrounds, contrive to solve the problem. – Moira Lovell

Robin Sloan, Penguin Random House, R295

As good if not better than Sloan’s debut novel Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore. This is a book hug, set in San Francisco, one to chase away the new year blues. Lois Clary is a coder for a robotics company. Working constantly and not taking care of herself, Lois and her colleagues – most of them men – survive on Slurry, a nutritive drink like Soylent. She is unhappy, lonely and depressed until she meets two brothers who own an illegal eatery. They feed her sourdough and spicy soup. When they’re deported, they leave her their sourdough starter. It’s more alive than any starter and this begins Lois’s odyssey into the mysterious and warm world of food. – Jennifer Platt @jenniferdplatt

Book details

» read article

10- year-old author the recipient of Cell C’s Acts of Kindness Campaign!

Buhle Mthethwa, the 10-year-old of The Big Fat Naughty Cat.

Soweto, 30 January: Buhle Mthethwa has an impressive track record – she’s a published author on a mission to instil a culture of reading in this country, and for this she’s been featured in a Top 10 South African heroes list and is up for an award from the Premier of Gauteng. What is truly remarkable is that she’s only 10-years-old.

And now, thanks to Cell C’s ongoing Acts of Kindness campaign, 1000 copies of her first book The Big Fat Naughty Cat were distributed today to learners in Grades 1 to 4 at Thabaneng Lower Primary School in Orlando West, Soweto, at a function attended by Miss South Africa Adé van Heerden and the author herself.

For Mthethwa – a Grade 5 learner from Mooifontein Primary School, Birchacres in Kempton Park – it is a dream come true: “I love reading and I want to share my passion with other children and encourage them to read and write from an early age.”

Buhle developed an enthusiasm for reading in Grade 1. When she realised that some of her friends could not read properly, she starting helping them after school, using books from the library while also running a book club for youngsters, aged between four and 14, from her family home.

Miss South Africa Adé van Heerden and Buhle at the recent handout.

The Big Fat Naughty Cat was launched last year in Johannesburg with launches planned soon in both Cape Town and Durban.

It tells the story of a young girl called Lira, her family and a cat that is ugly, dirty and always hungry. Lira picks up the cat, takes it home and cleans it. It is welcomed into the family home with love. But Lira and her family are disappointed when the animal does not appreciate their kindness. The foreword to the book is written by her school principal Jorrie Jordaan.

Brand South Africa has profiled the young author and she featured in the Top 10 South African Heroes in a feature run in The Star in November last year. She has been nominated for the Girl Child Awards, taking place in March, by the Premier of Gauteng David Makhura.

As part of its monthly Acts of Kindness, Cell C Head Office donated money for the print costs of the 1000 books which were distributed at the Soweto school by Van Heerden who expressed her delight at Buhle’s talent and called her an “inspiration and role model for the youth”, Cell C and employee volunteers and young Buhle.

Says Suzette van der Merwe, Managing Executive Corporate Social Investment at Cell C: “We were incredibly impressed by Buhle’s achievements and her desire to promote reading and the love of books in disadvantaged schools. Cell C was delighted to contribute towards the print run of another 1000 copies of her book and help with its distribution.”

» read article