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Archive for the ‘Non-fiction’ Category

Launch: A hat, a kayak & dreams of Dar by Terry Bell (7 November)


In 1967, Terry and Barbara Bell embarked on a crazy misadventure – to paddle away from exile in London back to Africa (to Dar es Salaam in fact). Terry, best known as a journalist and labour analyst, reveals himself as a humourist in A hat, a kayak and dreams of Dar, his hilarious memoir about the trip. The Bells decided the book had to include Barbara’s recipes for the food she cooked along the way after wine journalist John Platter pressed them for the story of how they cooked in a kayak for over a year.

Palesa Morudu will interview Terry Bell at the launch at Love Books, Bamboo Centre, Melville, Jhb on 7 November, 6 for 6:30.
John and Erica Platter will chat to Terry and Barbara at Ike’s Books, Florida Road, Durban, on 14 November, 5:30 for 6.

This is the recipe for Barbara’s “Consolation” Island Mushroom crêpes, cooked on a convenient island that they “happened” to camp on in Paris. You can read about how they came to be doing that in Chapter 8: In the wake of Robert Louis Stevenson. (“Why pay for an official campsite?” asked Terry.)

Consolation Island Mushroom Crêpes

This was the second meal on “our island”, after the visit to the famous Les Halles market and after we discovered the theft of our tent. We bought six freshly-cooked crêpes at the market and this is the recipe for the mushroom filling.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 finely chopped onion
1 finely chopped clove of garlic
1 tablespoon of finely chopped marjoram or oregano or heaped teaspoon dried mixed herbs
goodly (about 5/6 tablespoons) glug of red wine
500g thinly sliced button mushrooms
2 tablespoons plain flour
½ mug/cup chicken stock
grated cheese for sprinkling
salt and pepper to taste


Heat oil, then add onions and garlic and cook gently until pale gold. Add herbs and then pour in red wine. Cook until wine evaporates. Add mushrooms and cook until they start to ooze juice. Continue to cook until all but about 2 tablespoons of juice has evaporated. Sprinkle flour over,stir and then add chicken stock. Bring to boil, stirring, then cook for about 10 minutes until thick and creamy. Heat crêpes, fill with mixture and sprinkle with cheese.

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Submissions are open for the 2018 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award for non-fiction and the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize

Alert! Submissions are open for the 2018 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award for non-fiction and the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize. As in previous years, formal longlists for the prizes will be drawn up: convenors Jennifer Platt and Michele Magwood, along with the chairs of the respective judging panels, will select longlists of approximately 25 books per prize for the judges to assess. The winners will be announced next year. Please find below the links to the 2018 entry forms and submission rules and procedures.

  • NB: The list of titles that publishers wish to enter should reach the convenors, by email, by Monday 20 November 2017.

Publishers are requested to nominate no more than FOUR TITLES per imprint and to submit a list of other titles published in 2016 that are eligible. The judging panels may select additional titles for consideration at their discretion.

  • Only upon receiving notification from the conveners that a title or titles have been included on the longlist, should publishers send five print copies of each title to the Sunday Times, by Monday 4 December 2017

Prize criteria & Entry forms

Note: you can print/download these documents at their links.

Publishers are requested to email a list of all titles that they wish to enter to Jennifer Platt of the Sunday Times, at by no later than Monday 20 November 2017.

Click below to view previous winners:

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Finding the real universal themes in storytelling – a conversation with Lucy Hawking

Nal’ibali Column 14: Term 5. Published in The Sunday World, Daily Dispatch, and Herald
By Carla Lever

Say the name Hawking and it’s impossible not to think of science. Stephen Hawking has become the most instantly recognised and globally beloved scientist of our time, thanks in no small part to his global popular science bestseller A Brief History of Time.

Stephen and Lucy Hawking, authors of George’s Secret Key to the Universe

Stephen’s daughter, Lucy, shares this desire to make science compelling and accessible, working with him for several years to create a series of rollicking adventure books for children. The multi-book tales of George and Annie take children on adventures across the cosmos, encountering everything from blue moons to the black holes Hawking is so famous for studying.

The Hawkings’ science adventure series has been translated into over 40 languages now, but it’s the latest additions that are proving so exciting to South Africans. In association with The Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa (PRAESA), Jacana Publishers has added isiXhosa and isiZulu to the list of translations.

“Ideas can only spread as far as they can be understood,” commented PRAESA Director Dr Carole Bloch. “Lucy has done great work in making science thrilling and accessible for children. Thanks to translators, Xolisa Guzula and Phiwayinkosi Mbuyazi (isiZulu) these ideas can now reach so many more South African children, as it is only right they should.”

This October, Lucy Hawking was in South Africa promoting the book series in English, isiXhosa and isiZulu. “We’re very proud of this,” she said. “I grew up with storytelling as a family tradition on one side and science on the other side.”

“My father is an amazing science communicator – he has an extraordinary ability to speak in very simple terms about complex things. A young boy at my son’s birthday party once asked my father what would happen if he fell into a black hole. No-one knew quite how to answer that, but Dad simply said, ‘You’d turn into spaghetti.’ The adults were puzzled, but all the kids instantly got it! In that moment, I realised that this was the start of a story – and that we were ideally placed to write it. I could tell the story and my father could provide the scientific information. That’s how George’s Secret Key to the Universe – the first book in the series – was written.”

The Hawkings are no strangers to storytelling, being the subjects of the 2014 film The Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne. Now, though, it’s a different kind of narrative they are focused on.

The message in the children’s books? That science is fun and that anyone can understand it. “Don’t think science is something that belongs to other people,” Hawking exclaims.

Just how simple can you make award-winning scientific theory, though? “Not everything can be simplified, but we’ve tried to use the power of storytelling so that you have an experience,” Hawking observes. “Through having that, hopefully it makes an abstract concept easier to understand.”

Together, the father and daughter team have tackled storytelling around everything from robotics to the big bang, climate change to astronomy.

“I wanted to write these books as adventures stories because I believe that scientists view their work as an adventure, as thrilling journeys of discovery into the unknown in order to unlock the secrets of the universe,” said Lucy Hawking.

“Our children are going to have to make very big decisions about the planet in the future,” Lucy Hawking points out. “The sooner they start understanding that their opinions are worthwhile, the better. They’re starting on a journey they will continue all their lives.”

Stephen and Lucy Hawking’s George’s Secret Key to the Universe, is now available at Exclusive Books and other bookstores in English, isiZulu and isiXhosa.

Reading and telling stories with your children is a powerful gift to them. It builds knowledge, language, imagination and school success! For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign, or to access children’s stories in a range of South African languages, visit:

George's Secret Key to the Universe

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Lee Berger’s Almost Human “rollicks along like an adventure story,” writes Margaret von Klemperer

Published in the Sunday Times

Almost HumanAlmost Human: The Astonishing Tale of Homo Naledi
Lee Berger and John Hawks (Jonathan Ball Publishers, R295)

Paleoanthropologist Lee Berger probably wouldn’t dispute his reputation as a controversial figure – there are those who consider him a publicity-seeker, prone to shoot from the hip when it comes to announcing his discoveries. Be that as it may, he is a born storyteller and populariser of his field.

Berger and John Hawks, who is based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, have collaborated on this book, which covers more than its subtitle suggests. It starts with Berger’s nine-year-old son, Matthew, out with his father and a colleague on a fossil hunt in 2008 at Malapa in the Cradle of Humankind, turning over a rock to discover an ancient, fossilised collarbone.

That turned out to be Australopithecus sediba, a previously unknown hominin (humans, their early ancestors and related primate species) who walked upright as we do, but displayed many of the characteristics of an ape.

Then, five years after the discovery of A. sediba, Berger decided to have another look at the area around Malapa, suspecting the existence of unmapped caves. So he recruited some skinny amateur cavers (underground passages can be claustrophobically narrow), and a search began. Then, having squeezed through an 18cm gap in the Rising Star cave system, 40m underground, they hit the jackpot – a cave with hominin fossils littering the floor. Homo naledi had been discovered.

Berger is too big to wriggle into the cave – but he’s always up for a challenge. Using Facebook, he advertised for archaeologists and palaeontologists who had caving experience and were small and thin. His assistant was soon alarmed by the messages that poured in for him from women giving their vital statistics. Skype interviews were set up, National Geographic agreed to take the expedition live on social media, and the time-honoured, slow and secretive methodology of the profession was turned on its head.

It makes for a riveting read. Berger’s “underground astronauts” did their job. Even for those of us who don’t know our Australopithecus from our Homo, it rollicks along like an adventure story. There is still debate, of course, about exactly who and what H. naledi was and how the fossils got into the cave, but Berger and Hawks bring these dry bones to exuberant life.

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Prince Albert Leesfees: 3 – 5 November

Book lovers it’s almost time to head for Prince Albert in the Karoo.

The town’s sixth Leesfees takes place over the first weekend of November, with a list of writers, books and performers in a programme that offers something for everyone.

The theme this year is ‘The Soul of the Karoo ~ In die Gees van die Karoo’, with writers, poets, artists, musicians, a comedian and films in the lineup. The talks, presentations and stage experiences include discussions with crime and suspense writers, Rudie van Rensburg (Kamikaze) and Mike Nicol (Agents of the State), debut writers Mohale Mashigo (The Yearning) and Sara-Jayne King (Killing Karoline), as well as academic and novelist, Cas Wepener (Johanna).

Matters legal and political are the subject of Glynnis Breytenbach’s memoir, Rule of Law; she will be in conversation with Tim Cohen.

Our visiting author from Europe this year is Bart de Graaff whose book on the KhoiKhoin: Ik Yzerbek/Ware Mense (translated by Daniel Hugo) traces the experience of the earliest peoples of our land.

Artist Elza Miles has made a major contribution to the art scene of SA, with her historical works on various visual artists, she will be in conversation with writer and journalist Johan Myburg who will also speak about his new poetry anthology Uittogboek.

Rapper, Hemelbesem, Simon Witbooi will discuss his autobiography, God praat Afrikaans with Anzil Kulsen.

Joyce Kotzè and her translator, Daniel Hugo speak about her Anglo-Boer War novel: The Runaway Horses/Wintersrust, fiction based upon fact. Joyce relates how her forebears fought on different sides during the War. They will be in conversation with Carel van der Merwe, author of Donker stroom.

Local ornithologist Dr Richard Dean will launch his book, Warriors, dilettantes and businessmen – Bird Collectors during the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries in South Africa.

Karel Schoeman’s contributions to South African literature will be the focus of a panel discussion with Nicol Stassen and Cas Wepener (author of van Die reis gaan inwaarts- die kuns van sterwe in die werke van Karel Schoeman) co-ordinated by Prof Bernard Odendaal.

New food celebrity Nick Charlie Key will reveal banting tips and how to enjoy a healthy lifestyle whilst indulging in decadent desserts, from his book Jump on the Bant Wagon with food-lover Russell Wasserfall.

Poets Gaireyah Fredericks, Daniel Hugo, Johan Myburg and local raconteur Hugh Forsyth will read some of their favourite poems in English and Afrikaans literature.

Two music and word highlights will be Tribal Echo with Huldeblyk aan Adam Small/Tribute to Adam Small and Afrika my verlange/Afrique mon désir: Laurinda Hofmeyr, Schalk Joubert, with six West African singers, in collaboration with the Cape Town Music Academy.

Our programme includes two films. Director and producer, Roberta Durrant, will attend the Karoo premiere of her award-winning film Krotoa. Eerstewater is a documentary film set in and around Prince Albert based on Hélène Smit’s book, Beneath.

We’ll look at the state of children’s book publishing in South Africa, enjoy an evening in the company of comedian Nik Rabinowitz, enjoy delicious meals at the on-site restaurant and generally savour the Soul of the Karoo.

The 2017 Leesfees is a festival you cannot miss. The full programme can be found on the festival website - – and the Facebook page – offers daily updates on the people, books, poetry and experiences which make up this great cultural event.

Tickets can be bought online at and at the Prince Albert Library, Church Street, Prince Albert. Tel: 023 5411 014. For information and enquiries: and WhatsApp: 073 213 3797.

Agents of the State

Book details


The Yearning


Killing Karoline


Rule of Law


Ware Mense




God praat Afrikaans




Die reis gaan inwaarts


Jump on the Bant Wagon

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The reluctant president: an extract from Mandla Langa’s Dare Not Linger

Published in the Sunday Times

Nelson Mandela never finished the sequel to Long Walk to Freedom. Using his draft, notes and a wealth of archival material, Mandla Langa has completed the chronicle of Mandela’s presidential years. This is an edited extract from Dare Not Linger.

The reluctant president

‘My installation as the first democratically elected president of the Republic of South Africa was imposed on me much against my advice’
- Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela spent the night of the inauguration at the State Guest House in Pretoria, which would be his temporary home for the next three months while FW de Klerk was moving out of Libertas, the presidential residence — Mandela later renamed it Mahlamba Ndlopfu (“The New Dawn” in Xitsonga, meaning literally “the washing of the elephants” due to the fact that elephants bathe in the morning).

At about 10am on May 11, the day after the inauguration, Mandela arrived at the back entrance of the west wing of the Union Buildings, accompanied by a security detail of the as-yet unintegrated units of the South African Police and MK. Two formidable women — Barbara Masekela and Jessie Duarte — who were at the heart of Mandela’s administration as ANC president, stepped along as smartly as they could, laden with paraphernalia for setting up office.

Forever in the shade, the temperature in the corridors was one or two degrees lower than outside, forcing a somewhat conservative dress code upon the staff and officials. Previously, when Mandela had met with De Klerk, the corridors had always smelled of coffee brewing somewhere. This morning there was no such smell and, except for the few people Mandela met at the entrance to the building, the place seemed deserted and forlorn, devoid of human warmth.

How Mandela charmed apartheid personnel

Executive Deputy President De Klerk had taken the whole of his private office with him, leaving only the functional and administrative staff.

But conviviality and sartorial elegance were the last things on the minds of Mandela’s staff, whose main business on May 11 was the finalisation of the cabinet of the Government of National Unity and the swearing-in of ministers. It was a small team, composed of hand-picked professionals, which had to deliver an urgent mandate.

As Duarte observed, Mandela was not passive in the selection of staff. When he sought to enlist Professor Jakes Gerwel as a possible director-general and cabinet secretary, she remembered that Mandela “wanted to know everything there was to know about Jakes. He asked Trevor [Manuel] … before he actually sat down with Jakes and said, ‘If we win, would you come to my office?’

“He also spoke to quite a number of activists [about] who this Gerwel chap was; who … would go into government with him.”

A competent cadre in the president’s office was needed to make up for the gap left by the withdrawal of the 60 people on De Klerk’s staff. At Thabo Mbeki’s prompting, a team headed by Department of Foreign Affairs official Dr Chris Streeter took on the role, with Streeter becoming Mandela’s “chief of staff” until the director-general was appointed.

Mandela was quick to dispel the illusion that he would be getting rid of the old personnel. He made a point of shaking hands with each member of staff. Fanie Pretorius, then-chief director in the office of the president, remembers the occasion: “He started from the left and he shook hands with every staff member, and about a quarter along the line he came to a lady who always had a stern face, though she was a friendly person. When he took her hand, he said in Afrikaans, ‘Is jy kwaad vir my?’ [‘Are you cross with me?’], and everybody laughed and the ice was broken.

He continued and gave the message to all the staff. There was nothing more and everybody was relieved. He was Nelson Mandela at that moment, with the warmth and the acceptance. Everybody would have eaten out of his hand — there was no negative feeling from anybody after that in the staff, at least that we were aware of.”

Mandela’s personal warmth towards people from all walks of life, from gardeners, cleaners, clerks and typists to those in the most senior roles, did not go unnoticed. Those who came across him in the course of their work described him as generous, self-effacing and easy-going; a man who knew “how to be an ordinary person”, with a sincerity demonstrated by his “greeting everybody in the same way whether there is a camera on him or not”; “there is never the feeling that he is up there and you’re down there”.

Mandela was respectful but not in awe of the world in which he found himself. Like all confident people who take their capability for granted, he was unhesitant about the road he needed to take to strengthen South Africa’s democracy.

Throughout his political life, he had never shirked responsibility, no matter how dangerous, as evidenced by his role as the volunteer-in-chief in the 1952 Defiance Campaign Against Unjust Laws — inspired by the sentiment contained in his favourite poem, Invictus, “the menace of the years” had found him “unafraid”.

One term only — that’s the deal

Imprisoned for more than a quarter of a century, Mandela had become the world’s most recognisable symbol against all forms of injustice. He was initially reluctant to become president, perhaps feeling that he had accomplished what he’d set out to do with his stewardship of the heady period from release to the elections.

“My installation as the first democratically elected president of the Republic of South Africa,” he writes, “was imposed on me much against my advice.

“As the date of the general elections approached, three senior ANC leaders informed me that they had consulted widely within the organisation, and that the unanimous decision was that I should stand as president if we won the election.

“I urged the three senior leaders that I would prefer to serve without holding any position in the organisation or government. One of them, however, put me flat on the carpet.

“He reminded me that I had always advocated the crucial importance of collective leadership, and that as long as we scrupulously observed that principle, we could never go wrong. He bluntly asked whether I was now rejecting what I had consistently preached down the years. Although that principle was never intended to exclude a strong defence of what one firmly believed in, I decided to accept their proposal.

“I, however, made it clear that I would serve for one term only.

“Although my statement seemed to have caught them unawares — they replied that I should leave the matter to the organisation — I did not want any uncertainty on this question. Shortly after I had become president, I publicly announced that I would serve one term only and would not seek re-election.

“At meetings of the ANC,” Mandela continues, “I often stressed that I did not want weak comrades or puppets who would swallow anything I said, simply because I was president of the organisation. I called for a healthy relationship in which we could address issues, not as master and servants, but as equals in which each comrade would express his or her views freely and frankly, and without fear of victimisation or marginalisation.”

The ANC — or, more precisely, President Mandela — needed to think clearly and plan well. Without this capability, it would be difficult to synthesise the old, security-oriented, bureaucratised civil service, a carry-over from the insular legacy of apartheid, and the new, somewhat inexperienced personnel, some of whom had recently graduated from overseas academies where they had received crash courses in administration and the rudiments of running a modern economy.

While De Klerk had a functioning administrative office staffed by people who had worked with him for years, Mandela and his deputy, Mbeki, had to start from scratch.

Gerwel was the first senior appointment, bringing gravitas to the presidential staff.

He also brought his extensive political background as a leader of the United Democratic Front and his engagement with the ANC in exile.

As vice-chancellor of the University of the Western Cape, a position from which he was about to retire, he had led the transformation of an apartheid university into an intellectual home of the left. Mandela’s endorsement of Professor Gerwel shows the high esteem in which he held him. It’s even more remarkable that Gerwel came from the black consciousness tradition and wasn’t a card-carrying member of the ANC.

At the time he appointed Gerwel, Mandela had formed a reasonable idea about how he wanted his office to look. Like all obsessively orderly people — at one point he wanted to make his own bed in a hotel — he couldn’t function without a solid base.

Having Gerwel at the helm served this purpose. He respected Gerwel and would take his advice. Masekela later commented on this aspect of Mandela’s character.

“I think it requires a certain amount of humility and self-interest to want the best advice and to take it. He was a little too much admiring of educated people, I would say. He really was seriously impressed by degrees, and so on, and if you expressed some scepticism about someone like that it would be very difficult to convince him.”

Joel Netshitenzhe was a member of the ANC’s national executive committee and national working committee with a strong background in communications and strategic analysis. Deceptively casual and with an aversion to formal dress, Netshitenzhe — working with media liaison officer Parks Mankahlana, who’d come from the youth league — operated a brief that went beyond writing Mandela’s speeches: he was also the unofficial link to the various ANC and government constituencies.

Trusted by the media, mainly because he exuded confidence and candour — and was known to have the ear of the president — he worked hard to simplify the more complex policy positions in various forums.

But Mandela needed more than the cold, crisp analyses of his advisers; he also drew on the counsel of others in the ANC.

Having started a practice of marking Mondays as “ANC day” in his diary, he would spend that day at the ANC head office with the top officials and others, also attending NWC meetings. He had no set timetable, however, when consulting other ANC leaders close to him, like Walter Sisulu.

“Me, in particular,” Sisulu said, uncomplainingly, in a 1994 interview, “he likes to ring. He wakes me up, one o’clock, two o’clock, doesn’t matter, he’ll wake me up. I realise after he has woken me up, this thing is not so important — well, we discuss it, but it didn’t really require that he wake me up at that time.”

Mandela’s involvement in cabinet, however, changed over time.

Early in his tenure, he was more hands-on, keeping himself informed on almost all aspects of policy in order to maintain the coherence of the ANC in the GNU, a measure demanded by the intricate process of transformation.

100 days of meetings

Manuel remembers how, on the eve of cabinet meetings, Mandela convened ANC ministers and their deputies in an ANC cabinet caucus at his Genadendal residence in Cape Town. This he did, Manuel says, “so that we could caucus positions that we wanted to take and be mutually supportive. It afforded comrades [an environment] to have a discussion that was quite free”.

In his first 100 days in government, Mandela held meetings to guide the ministers or get their support for positions he held. He maintained a continuous interest in matters concerning peace, violence and stability.

As Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma observed, “I think for me he was more engaged at the beginning, but maybe it was because I engaged him more at the beginning because I myself was not experienced.”

Although Mandela had intended to announce the appointments only after the inauguration, his hand was forced by the media, which had got wind of the debate around the position of the deputy president, with the announcement of the cabinet being made on May 6 1994. It was an incomplete list and some of the names and their corresponding portfolios would be changed.

Setting up the cabinet was not uncontentious, with De Klerk piqued at inadequate consultation in the allocation of some portfolios. However, Mandela’s personal touch was unmistakable. Some of the processes, appearing haphazard at their genesis, ended up bearing fruit. A few of the cogs in the wheel of the machine geared to advance Mandela’s dream were blithely unaware of their importance and how their own lives would change

Dare Not Linger

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Jacket Notes: Frans Rautenbach on how a conversation with his son motivated him to write South Africa Can Work

Published in the Sunday Times

South Africa Can Work
Frans Rautenbach, Penguin Random House, R250

My son’s statement hit me like a blow to the gut. We were enjoying dinner at a Mexican restaurant. We debated the #FeesMustFall movement, and I ventured the view that the problem was the government’s economic policies. I reiterated my mantra that free enterprise was the way to go to save South Africa.

That’s when Stefan said it: “I no longer believe in your arguments. Trickle-down economics does not work…”

While I battled to suck air into my lungs, protesting that I had researched the topic for years, Stefan added that I only read that which confirmed my prejudices.

I realised that no sensible continuation of the discussion would be possible without a thorough re-examination of my premises. Thus the book was born.

The soul of the book is freedom, in particular economic freedom – a policy many might see as less than politically correct. So shoot me, I’m a contrarian. In the introduction I confess: “As a lawyer I still marvel at the beautiful words of Lord Justice Megarry in the case of John v Rees: ‘As everybody who has anything to do with the law well knows, the path of the law is strewn with examples of open and shut cases which, somehow, were not: of unanswerable charges which, in the event, were completely answered; with inexplicable conduct which was fully explained …’”

As in law, so in life. But while often against the mainstream, I am not so just for the sake of being otherwise. As a student politician I relished the thought of pulling both apartheid and capitalism from their pedestals. Intellectually the former proved easy, but nowadays the thought of defending communism or socialism fills me with despair.

People often ask me how I managed to spend so much time and energy writing a book arguing that a free market will save South Africa. My best answer is that I cannot do otherwise.

Seeing our society being led to serfdom while the evidence of a better way is so abundant, is like observing a patient with a mental disorder self-inflicting pain, day by day. I cannot keep quiet…

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Book Bites: 15 October

Published in the Sunday Times

Late Show
Michael Connelly, Orion, R275
Fierce, flawed and fallen from grace, Detective Renée Ballard now works “The Late Show” – the graveyard shift at the LA police department. Every night she opens cases and every morning turns them over to an investigating unit. Then she lands two cases she’s determined to keep – a multiple shooting and an assault on a transgender prostitute. Although Ballard senses the presence of “big evil”, she can’t know that her investigation will loop back to her department. Ballard is not as nuanced or compelling a character as Harry Bosch, and Connolly is perhaps too eager to show us he’s done his research, describing every detail of police paperwork and procedure, but this is nit picking. The book is fast-paced, clever, and delivers a gritty view of LA’s seedy underbelly. – Joanne Macgregor @JoanneMacg

Believe Me
Eddie Izzard, Michael Joseph, R340
This is not a shock-horror celebrity memoir; there is no profanity, gossip or exaggerations. It’s a story of damn hard work, passion and determination. Eddie Izzard knew from a young age that he wanted to be a performer. It took 12 years for him to officially break into the entertainment world. Out of each failed attempt, his determination grew, until he became the international celebrity he is today. At the same time, Izzard knew his sexuality was not easy to define. Being a self-proclaimed “action transvestite” has meant that he has taken on a unique view of the world and presents this in his performances and daring fashion choices. His well-deserved self-confidence is inspiring and catchy. – Samantha Gibb @samantha_gibb

The Rhino Whisperer
Evadeen Brickwood, Sula Books, R250
Brickwood turns an observant eye on Southern African problems, setting much of her story in the fictional Shangari Safari Park. When rhino poaching and murder come to Shangari, it’s like the serpent entering the Garden of Eden. We are given a cast – Tom and Sofia, who run the park; Barry the alcoholic vet; Sofia’s best friend Gugu, and Gugu’s dodgy billionaire boss Stan Makeroff (think Sol Kerzner meets Radovan Krejcir) – with the suspicion that one of them is Mr Big, the criminal mastermind behind it all. Delightfully exuberant, but needs editing. – Aubrey Paton

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Shortlist for 2017 South African Literary Awards announced

2017 marks the highest milestone of South African Literary Awards (SALA), as the shortlist includes, for the first time, the !Xam and !Kun languages.

Listed under the Posthumous Literary Awards, five legendary contributors are drawn from Wilhelm Bleek and Lucy Lloyd collection of !Xam and !Kun narratives, verses, songs, chants, drawings and other materials consisting of over 150 notebooks running in some 13 000 pages which is considered a unique cultural and literary collection which has been recognised by United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Council (UNESCO) and entered into the memory of the World Register.

The materials deal with the land, the rain, the history of the first people, the origin of the moon and stars, animals, cosmology, beliefs, ceremonies, art and information of the
individual lives of the informants who had come to Cape Town as prisoners of the British Crown and were released into Bleek’s custody at his residence in Mowbray for linguistic and cultural research.

Also interesting is the shortlist list under the Translators Literary award consisting of William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe Esinembali, Xhosa Histories And Poetry (1873 – 1888), DLP.Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange, Historical Poems and The Thirstland Trek: 1874 – 1881. While the Creative Non- Fiction Award has The Keeper Of The Kumm: Ancestral Longing And Belonging Of A Boesmankind, by Sylvia Vollenhoven, My Own Liberator by Judge Dikgang Moseneke and Emily Hobhouse – Geliefde Verraaier by Elsabé Brits.

The shortlist goes on to list under the Lifetime Achievement Literary Award, South Africa’s legendary Credo Vusamazulu Mutwa, who is largely respected for his predictions of world events, including the destruction of New York’s World Trade Centre in 2001, the 1976 June 16 Uprising, HIV, Chris Hani’s assassination, load shedding and the ousting of President Thabo Mbeki. Mutwa shares the category with other literary stalwarts, Aletta Matshedisð Motimele, who is revered for her Sepedi works and Etienne van Heerden, an academic and prolific Afrikaans author.

“Indeed, as its main aim, SALA continues to strive to become the most prestigious and respected literary accolades in South African literature,” says Ms Sindiswa Seakhoa, director at wRite associates, founders of SALA, in partnership with the department of Arts and Culture in 2005.

Since its inception in 2005, to date, SALA has honoured 160 authors in 11 categories in all official South African languages. SALA also boasts legacy programmes including:
- The National Poet Laureate Programme and the Keorapetse Kgositsile Lecture, in honour of the Poet Laureate, Prof Keorapetse Kgositsile.
- The Miriam Tlali Reading and Book Club, in honour of the late Miriam Tlali.
- Band of Troubadours, a publication comprising the work of the SALA recipients
- Africa Century International African Writers Conference and International African
Writers Day Lecture, established in 2012.

The conference is set to become a Mecca of who is who of the African literati, the Diaspora and the entire globe where the celebration of African letters occupies centre stage.

This historical gathering of literary intellectuals and authors from across the world, is, as the then-OAU’s Conference of African Ministers of Education and Culture (meeting in Coutonou, Benin, in 1991) resolved, “… to afford the African people a moment of pause within which to reflect on the contribution of African Writers to the development of the Continent”.

Both the 2017 South African Literary Awards ceremony and Conference will take place on the 7th November at Kgorong Building, UNISA. This is partnership by the wRite associates, the department of Arts and Culture and the Department of Afrikaans and Theory of Literature, UNISA.

The theme for the conference is “The Writer as a Drum Major of Conscience, Restoration & Transformation”, with the sub-theme being “The Establishment of the South African Writers Organization”.

Prof Zodwa Motsa, a Fulbright Scholar, a Researcher, Writer and Social Engineer, who has served as Head of the Department: English Studies (UNISA) from 2006 -2011 and currently serving as the Country Director at UNISA’s Ethiopia Centre for Graduate Studies in Addis Ababa, since 2012, will deliver the sixth International African Writers Day Lecture and Prof Nhlanhla Maake, an academician, novelist, dramatist, literary critic, and language activist will deliver the response. Prof Andries Oliphant, author, poet, literary scholar and cultural policy advisor, will lead the seminar on the establishment of South Africa’s writers’ organization.

Category: First-time Published Author Award

Amy Jephta, Kristalvlakte
Moses Shimo Seletisha, Tšhutšhumakgala
Mohale Mashigo, The Yearning

Category: k.Sello Duiker Memorial Literary Award

Kopano Matlwa, Period Pain
Nthikeng Mohlele, Pleasure

Category: Poetry Award

Helen Moffett, Prunings
Ronelda S Kamfer, Hammie
Simphiwe Ali Nolutshungu, Iingcango Zentliziyo

Category: Creative Non- Fiction Award

Dikgang Moseneke, My Own Liberator
Elsabé Brits, Emily Hobhouse – Geliefde Verraaier
Sylvia Vollenhoven, The Keeper Of The Kumm

Category: Literary Journalism Award

Don Makatile: His oeuvre
Phakama Mbonambi: His oeuvre

Category: Literary Translators Award

Bridget Theron-Bushell The Thirstland Trek: 1874 – 1881 (Afrikaans to English)
Jeff Opland, Wandile Kuse and Pamela Maseko William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe Esinembali Xhosa Histories And Poetry (1873 – 1888) (isiXhosa to English)
Jeff Opland and Pamela Maseko DLP.Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange, Historical Poems (isiXhosa to English)

Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award

Nick Mulgrew, Stations
Roela Hattingh, Kamee

Category: Posthumous Literary Award

|A!kunta: Body of work (!Xam and !Kun)
!Kabbo: Body of work (!Xam and !Kun)
≠Kasin: Body of work (!Xam and !Kun)
Dia!kwain: Body of work (!Xam and !Kun)
|Han≠kass’o: Body of work (!Xam and !Kun)

Category: Lifetime Achievement Literary Award

Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa: Body of work
Aletta Matshedisð Motimele: Body of work
Etienne Van Heerden: Body of work

Category: Chairperson’s Award

The recipient will be announced at the award ceremony

Book details



The Yearning


Period Pain







My Own Liberator


Emily Hobhouse


Keeper of the Kumm


The Thirstland Trek


William Wellington Gqoba: Isizwe esinembali


DLP Yali-Manisi: Iimbali Zamanyange





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From Para to Dakar: Joey Evans’s story of defying all odds and reaching the Dakar finish line

‘I’ve realised that when things are really tough and there seems no hope for the future, it’s sometimes just Chapter One of a really cool story, and the ending is entirely up to you.’

From Para to Dakar

Joey Evans has always loved bikes, from his first second-hand Raleigh Strika at the age of six to the powerful off-road machines that became his passion later on in his life. His dream was one day to ride the most gruelling off-road race in the world, the 9000km Dakar Rally.

In 2007 his dream was shattered when he broke his back in a racing accident. His spinal cord was crushed, leaving him paralysed from just below his chest. Doctors gave him a 10 percent chance of ever walking again. Many would have given up and become resigned to life in a wheelchair, but not Joey Evans. Not only would he get back on his feet and walk, but he would also keep his Dakar dream alive. It was a long and painful road to recovery, involving years of intensive rehabilitation and training, but he had the love and support of both family and friends and an incredible amount of determination.

Joey shares the many challenges he and his family faced, relating the setbacks, as well as successes, along the way to the Dakar start line. But the start line was only the first goal – his sights were set on reaching the finish line, which he did in 2017 – the only South African to do so.
From Para to Dakar is so much more than the story of one man reaching the Dakar finish line. It is a story of friendship and respect, compassion and kindness. It is about defying the odds to reach a dream, it is about grit, endurance and raw courage, and it is inspiring in its true heroism.

“I heard Joey’s story from my friend Darryl in the days before Dakar 2017 and I was in awe of what he was hoping to achieve. The thing that struck me most when I met Joey was that he didn’t mention a single word about his ‘problems’ – he was just another guy lining up to do the gnarliest race in the world. To me, that said more about him than anything else. Good job, legend!”
- SAM SUNDERLAND (overall motorbike winner, Dakar 2017)

“Joey Evans is one of the most phenomenal people I have met in three decades of Carte Blanche. His story is one of unbelievable courage, tenacity and belief, blended with a very close bond with his wife Meredith and their four daughters.”
- DEREK WATTS (anchor and presenter on Carte Blanche)

Book details

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