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 ‘Penguin’ Category

Book Bites: 16 April 2017

Published in the Sunday Times

History of Wolves
Emily Fridlund (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Fourteen-year-old Linda lives in an isolated ex-commune with her parents. Ostracised by her peers and suffering from a healthy bout of impending teen angst, she’s intrigued by the family that moves into a nearby cabin, ultimately forming a bond with their young son, Paul, who – spoiler alert! – dies. Fridlund’s decision to include foreshadowing falls flat as the climax of the novel is both disappointing and uninspired. What could have been a thought-provoking read on the relationship between science and religion is reduced to a mildly interesting story about a young girl trying to make sense of humanity and the mysteries of the physical world. There is some excellent trivia on wolves, though. – Mila de Villiers @mila_se_kind

A Dark So Deadly
Stuart MacBride (HarperCollins)
Stuart MacBride is best known for his police procedurals featuring Detective-Sergeant Logan McRae of Aberdeen – but A Dark So Deadly is one of his few standalone thrillers. And what a thriller it is! At over 600 pages this book is no lightweight: one senses both the writer – and his editor – are covering unknown territory and it might take a while for the reader to get caught up in the story. Detective-Constable Callum MacGregor takes the blame when his pregnant girlfriend screws up, and is assigned to the misfit mob. When a mummy is discovered in a rubbish tip which turns out to be of recent provenance, the game is on. Callum perseveres in the investigation through personal disaster and series of twists and turns that will leave the reader gasping for more. Excellent! – Aubrey Paton

Delilah Now Trending
Pamela Power (Penguin)
Pamela Power is back with this laugh-out-loud offering. Lilah, single mother to 12-year-old Daisy, is f-bombing her way through life with success. But things go sideways when her daughter is accused of intentionally injuring a classmate. Readers will snort and cheer as Lilah battles through this rough period: armed with champagne, espresso, and many merry friends, so loyal they’ll even help you wax in a pinch. – Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love
Per J Andersson (OneWorld)
The cover is deceptive. This is not just a feel-good book filled with love and sitars. It has quite an edge, giving an extensive history of a village in India and how awful life was there for those from the “untouchable” caste. It’s also the true story of how a man from this village named PK fell in love with Lotta, a Swedish tourist. Unfortunately she has to go back to Sweden, so PK, determined to be with her again, gets on his bike and makes sure he gets to Sweden. Heartwarming and filled with unexpected detail. – Jennifer Platt @Jenniferdplatt

Book details

» read article

Margaret von Klemperer reviews Dancing the Death Drill

This review was originally published in the Witness.

IN a Paris restaurant in 1958, an about-to-retire waiter, polite and unobtrusive and apparently from Algeria, serves a meal to a pair of irritating customers. Then, one speaks to the other in Afrikaans, the waiter looks at him properly for the first time and what has been an ordinary event turns into chaos and bloodshed.

This is the shocking opening scene of Fred Khumalo’s novel, which centres on the sinking of the SS Mendi in the English Channel in 1917, a wartime catastrophe that led to the deaths of almost 650 men, the majority of them members of the South African Native Labour Corps, who, although not allowed to carry guns, were on their way to France to assist in the allied war effort. In Khumalo’s story, among the survivors who continue their journey to France and the hell of the First World War is Pitso Motaung, who under the alias of Jean-Jacques Henri is the waiter of the opening chapter.

Khumalo elegantly builds Pitso’s story from his birth as the son of a deserter from Boer forces in the Anglo-Boer war and the Sotho woman who takes care of him. We follow him through his upbringing and education in a Bloemfontein orphanage; his first love affair, which ends badly; his decision to volunteer for the Labour Corps; his journey to France; the tragic fate of the SS Mendi; his wartime experiences and his eventual life in France in the first half of the 20th Century.

It is a fast-moving and compelling narrative, and if the arm of coincidence stretches very long in places, that’s fair enough. Khumalo has used his sources cleverly, particularly in the scenes of the sinking where the reported words of the Reverend Isaac Dyobha to the doomed men on the Mendi, and which give Khumalo his title, have echoed down the century since the tragedy, even when little was said or remembered of the fate of the ship and its passengers – something that has fortunately been corrected.

Khumalo also highlights the racial politics of South Africa and Britain at the time, giving his story a substance that goes beyond the tale of one man. He also gives the telling a nuance – not all blacks are all good, nor all whites all bad – which is important, particularly in these racially charged times. I have set myself a project for the four years of the centenary of World War 1 to read or re-read some of the writing, both fiction and non-fiction, that has emerged from that extraordinary conflict.

Now I can add a fine South African novel to the list. – Margaret von Klemperer

Dancing the Death Drill

Book details

» read article

Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ shortlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction

The 28-year-old Nigerian author Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ has become the fourth African writer to be shortlisted for the annual Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. Adébáyọ̀ has been nominated for her debut novel, Stay With Me, which was published to critical acclaim in March 2017.

Fellow African authors Fiona Melrose (Midwinter) and Yewande Omotoso (The Woman Next Door) were longlisted for the award.

Titles which appeared on the longlist include The Mare by Mary Gaitskill, The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, and Barkskins by Annie Proulx.

“It has been a great privilege to Chair the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction in a year which has proved exceptional for writing of both quality and originality,” said Tessa Ross, 2017 Chair of Judges. “It was therefore quite a challenge to whittle this fantastic longlist of 16 books down to only six… These were the six novels that stayed with all of us well beyond the final page.”

The other five novels shortlisted for the award are The Power by Naomi Alderman, The Dark Circle by Linda Grant, The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan, First Love by Gwendoline Riley and Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien.

Read more on this prestigious award commemorating woman writers here.

Stay With Me

Book details

» read article

Ses moet-lees Maart boeke

Protea Boekhuis het ‘n besige Maart-maand agter die rug gehad. Van verbeeldingryke kinderboeke vir die jongspan, tot geskiedkundige novelles, tot dramatekste wat menslikheid ondersoek, is onlangs geubliseer.

Lees verder oor die volgende ses boeke waarby enige kranige leser sal aanklank vind:

Die dag is bros/Sandton City GrootdoopDie dag is bros/Sandton City Grootdoop
Wessel Pretorius

Twee dramas oor familie, verhoudings, vergifnis en herinneringe. Wat bybly, is dat mense maar net mense is. Dat versoening deel van menswees is. Dat stukkende mense mekaar kan help heel word en dat familie tog familie bly – ondanks omstandighede, persoonlike keuses en uitdagings.

Sandton City grootdoop
‘n Drama oor ’n ma en haar twee dogters wat vir die eerste keer in ’n lang tyd bymekaarkom om die oudste, Danél, se verjaardag in Sandton City te vier. In die proses begin die trio mekaar se verlede, gevoelens en emosies oopkrap met eerlike, en snaakse, oomblikke.
Kara, die ma, is die aktrise wat haar man en kinders op ’n jong ouderdom verlaat het om haar groot droom om wêreldberoemd te word, na te volg. Sy erken dat sy nie bevoeg of beskore was vir moederskap nie, maar probeer tog om tot hulle deur te dring en hulle vertroueling te wees. Haar oudste dogter, Danél, is bipolêr en bly na ‘n onlangse selfmoordpoging weer by haar ma. Sy is naïef en emosioneel en val maklik vir haar ma se manipulasie.
Haar suster, Lisa, is gay en verwyt haar ma dat sy nog niks met haar lewe gedoen het nie. Sy is kwaad en kras en wil graag haar ma skok met haar uitlatings oor seks, maar ’n mens kom agter dat sy eintlik baie kwesbaar is.

“Die minimalisme van die stuk bind jou en hou jou vasgenael tot die einde.” Leonie Bezuidenhout
“Dit is galbitter, snaaks en bitter seer in ewe maat, ’n driekuns wat Pretorius keer op keer regkry. Jy lag, maar jy weet jy moet eintlik ween.” – Leatitia Pople

Die dag is bros
Dis laatmiddag. Elsa, voorheen ’n lektor in Afrikaanse letterkunde, berei ’n driegangmaaltyd voor vir Brian se verjaarsdag. Hy was ’n jeugmisdadiger wat ’n tweede kans gegun is onder Elsa se vlerk. Sy stel hom bloot aan Sheila Cussons en hy vul ’n leemte in haar lewe. Tussendeur word daar speletjies gespeel met Tertius – die vreemde kind wat kersiebloeisels aandra uit Japan. Voor die kos koud kan word sal die dag ’n ingrypende wending neem.

Die dag is bros is benoem vir ’n Fiësta as beste nuutgeskepte Afrikaanse produksie.

Wessel Pretorius is die wenner van die 2015 Afrikaans Onbeperk-prys vir ’n jong stem.

Voor ek my kom kryVoor ek my kom kry
Pirow Bekker

Die omslag van die bundel met sy abstrakte figure suggereer die gesprek wat in hierdie bundel gevoer word met die self, die geliefde, die lewe en die dood. Die digter ondersoek erskillende fasette van ’n lang en kreatiewe lewe. In die eerste afdeling kom die verhouding met die aarde ter sprake; in die tweede afdeling die ambivalente verhouding met die land waarin hy gekies het om te bly woon, ten spyte van die ongenaakbaarheid van klimaat, plae en sosio-politieke kwessies. In die volgende afdelings kyk die digter op ironiese wyse na die dreigende dood wat hom in verskille gedaantes voordoen. Dan volg gedigte oor die liefde: vir die taal, die woord en vir die geliefde vrou. Die fyn humor waarmee die digter na die ouderdom kyk, sorg dat die laaste gedigte nie neerdrukkend is nie, maar die lewe bly omhels, soos in “Hansie Slim herbesin”, waarin gespot word met die “mediese kernplan” waarmee voorsorg vir siekte en ouderdom getref word.

En tog,
die hele infrastruktuur ten spyt
verlaat Hans sy huis, begeef hy hom
op ’n lukraak ryloopreis
die wyer wêreld in.

Daarom kan die digter in die slotgedig terugkyk op die verrassing van ’n lewe wat sonder beplanning of padkaart, sy eie verloop geneem het.

Pirow Bekker is ’n veelsydige skrywer van romans, kortverhale en poësie. Sy vorige twee bundels, Van roes en amarant (2008) en Atlas teen die vergeetrivier, (2013) is goed ontvang deur die literêre kritiek.

Kroniek van turfKroniek van turf
Dolf van Niekerk

Hierdie novelle sluit aan by twee vorige prosawerke van Dolf van Niekerk, naamlik die jeugverhaal Karel Kousop (1985) en Koms van die hyreën (1994). Kroniek van turf is gedeeltelik ’n prequel vir die vorige twee boeke. Dit vertel die geskiedenis van Gerrit, ’n werknemer van die VOC, wat in die 18de eeu begin boer op ’n leningsplaas in die Roggeland. Omstandighede dwing hom om na die distrik Swellendam te verskuif. Sy twee seuns, Johannes en Daniel, soek albei later ook na ’n veiliger blyplek, aanvanklik in die Kamdebo. Onrus op die Oosgrens laat hulle verder trek; Johannes na wat tans die Vrystaat is en Daniel saam met die Voortrekkers na Natal, waar hy en sy vrou slagoffers van die Bloukransmoorde word.
Waar Johannes hom op ’n plaas tussen die Riet- en die Modderrivier vestig, maak hy weer kontak met die Kousop-Boesmans wat hy vroeër naby die Gariep ontmoet het. Tussen Johannes se nageslag en die Boesmans ontwikkel ’n vae, onsekere band wat oor meer as ’n eeu sou strek. Onverwags maak een van Johannes se nasate, Johan, tydens die Bosoorlog kennis met ’n Boesmanspoorsnyer wat ook ’n Kousop-nasaat blyk te wees en wat ’n bepalende rol in ’n grondeis op Johan se plaas tussen die twee riviere sou speel.

Dolf van Niekerk is ’n bekende en geliefde skrywer van prosawerke soos Die son struikel (1960), Skrik kom huis toe (1968) en Die haasvanger (1985). Sy mees onlangse publikasies, die digbundels Bleek planeet (2012) en Portrette in my gang (2015), is baie goed deur die kritiek ontvang. Hy is meermale vir sy werk bekroon en het onder andere die Eugène Marais-prys, die M.E.R.-prys en die Scheepersprys ontvang.

Die prinses met die lang hareDie prinses met die lang hare
Annemarie van Haeringen

In ’n klein, arm landjie woon daar ’n prinses met ongelooflike lang hare. Sy sou dit graag wou afknip, maar haar pa sê dat ’n dame se hare haar kosbaarste sieraad is . . .

‘n Prettige boek vir meisies wat hou van prinsesse, lang hare en sterk mans.

Annemarie van Haeringen ontvang in 2000 die Nederlandse Gouden Penseel-toekenning vir hierdie boek – ’n eer wat haar ook met Malmok (1999) en Beer is op Vlinder (2005) te beurt geval het. Ander bekroonde werke van haar is Het begin van de zee en Coco of het kleine zwarte jurkje, wat onderskeidelik met ’n Zilveren Griffel en ’n Zilveren Penseel vereer is.

Die storie van ontdekkingsreiseDie Storie van Ontdekkingsreise
Anna Claybourne

Vanaf die vroegste tye verken mense al die aardbol op soek na nuwe plekke om te bewoon, verleidelike skatte, asemrowende vergesigte of die roemryke voorreg om die éérste mens op ’n hoë bergpiek te wees.
Hierdie boek vertel die verhale van onverskrokke ontdekkingsreisigers wat dit tot by die ysige pole gewaag het, bloedig warm woestyne oorgesteek het, riviere vol krokodille trotseer of vir die eerste keer reg rondom die aarde geseil het.
Lafras Cuyper in VenesiëLafras Cuyper in Venesië
Karl Kielblock


Karl Kielblock het verskeie boeke geskryf, waaronder die Lafras Cuyper-reeks baie bekend is en wyd versamel word. Dit handel oor seeavonture in diens van twee oorlogvoerende moondhede vroeg in die 19de eeu. Hierdie is die sesde boek in dié reeks, propvol opwinding, spanning en avontuur!

’n Besoek aan Venesië – dit is ’n droom wat waar word vir die beroemde kaperkaptein Lafras Cuyper. Dié droom word egter ru onderbreek toe Lafras een aand in die donker stegies aangeval word. Voor hy die raaisel oor die aanval kan oplos, roep Napoleon hom terug na Parys. Lafras moet Venesië verlaat – en ook die aanvallige Justina, wat sy hart so gou verower het. Hy moet met die Turkse goewerneur gaan onderhandel oor drie Franse offisiere wat as gyselaars aangehou word. Tussendeur al die lewensgevaarlike avonture, verskyn die beeld van Justina kort-kort voor Lafras. Hy móét haar weer sien. Hy móét weer terugkeer na Venesië … en sy aanvallers.

Die verhaal van Lafras Cuyper is op feite gebaseer.


Karl Kielblock is ʼn bekende skrywer en selfs ná sy afsterwe bly sy boeke onweerstaanbaar. In 1936 verskyn sy eerste boek Die skat van Java. Sedertdien het daar verskeie romanse, speur- en spanningsverhale asook verskeie jeugverhale die lig gesien. In 1970 ontvang Kielblock die Scheepersprys vir die boek Rebel.

Book details

» read article

In a state of emergency: Michele Magwood chats to Marita van der Vyver about her latest novel You Lost Me

The French terror attacks change the world view of a disconsolate South African writer in this novel, writes Michele Magwood for the Sunday Times

You Lost Me You Lost Me
Marita van der Vyver (Penguin)

Willem Prins trudges the streets of Paris, disconsolate and depressed. He is, he believes, “a mediocre father, a mediocre writer who leads a mediocre life. How does one endure one’s own mediocrity?” he wonders. Greying and paunchy, Prins is a middling author at home in South Africa, good enough to be short-listed for literary prizes, but never the winner. His early promise as a leonine, Che Guevara-like novelist has never come to much. To make ends meet he has started writing soft porn – “clitlit” – under the pseudonym Lolita Meyer.

This is the first time that Marita van der Vyver has written a male protagonist. “When you’re a female writer, writing mostly female characters, you’re categorised as ‘just’ a woman’s writer,” she says. “I wanted to punch a hole in that box, which is why I chose a male character.”

Prins is mortified when one of his Lolita books is picked up by a French publisher, but when she invites him to the launch in Paris he decides to go, hoping to see his estranged son who has been raised by his first wife and her French husband in the city.

The trip will shake his world view to its very foundations.

First, his son, Maurice, who has a doctorate in philosophy, is a tattooed, pierced, dreads-in-a-topknot waiter in a vegetarian restaurant. His girlfriend Nabila is Muslim, of Tunisian descent. And then there’s the irreverent Jackie, a South African working in Paris, a sprite in pink Doc Martens with a cloud of an Afro. Together the trio of youngsters begin to shift his sclerotic ennui, and his thoughts of suicide recede.

When he and Jackie escape the November 13 attacks in Paris, leaving a cafe minutes before a gunman opens fire on it, Prins is forced to rethink his life. “Tonight is the kind of night that can turn all your certainties into uncertainties.” Unable to contact Maurice, he is deranged with worry, grasping at a forsworn God: “Please, he prays to some or other intelligent higher being he suddenly wishes he could believe in again, please, let my son be safe.”

Van der Vyver was at her home in Provence on the night of the attacks, but equally worried about her three adult sons, one of whom has a girlfriend in Paris and the other two who go to music concerts nearly every weekend. It was only at 2am that she had located them all and ensured they were safe.

“Even so, you feel the horror. I still see it in my children, I see it in their friends, I see it in the French people around me. And then there was the Nice attack, which is much closer to where I live. It’s getting closer and closer. We’re still in a state of emergency. Isn’t it ironic? I left South Africa to live in France and I’m living in a state of emergency.”

On her website Van der Vyver reproduces the diary she kept while writing You Lost Me. It’s a fascinating insight into the process of producing a novel, the research, the plotting, the rewriting. Most surprising is the insecurity she feels about her writing. Despite dozens of books, children’s stories and reams of essays and journalism, she still doubts herself. “The insecurity gets worse,” she laughs, “because people expect more of you and your own standards get higher.”

It’s not stopping her, though. She is full of ideas for more books. “Stories are all around us all the time. Once you have your antennae out, you just have to pick them up.”

Follow Michele Magwood @michelemagwood

•You Lost Me is also available in Afrikaans as MisverstandMisverstand

•Listen to the podcast

Book details


» read article

Kingsmead Book Fair line-up announced!

Authors, editors, poets and publishers will congregate at Kingsmead College on Saturday 13 May from 9:30 AM to 6 PM for the sixth annual Kingsmead Book Fair.

Bibliophiles can expect an assortment of literary discussions including deliberations on political unrest in South Africa, culinary conversations with some of South Africa’s most prolific food-writers, and the nitty-gritty behind the art of short story writing.

Fans of mega-selling author Lesley Pearse, pay heed: the illustrious writer will share the secrets of her success with the Sunday Times’ very own Michele Magwood in Kingsmead’s Music Centre at 09:30 AM. Pearse has authored 21 books, including Dead to Me, Without a Trace, and Survivor.

On the local front the likes of Jonno Proudfoot, author of the Real Meal Revolution: Banting 2.0, award-winning journalist and author Zubeida Jaffer (On Trial with Mandela), the acclaimed novelist and short story writer Yewande Omotoso (The Woman Next Door), and renowned poet Phillippa de Villiers Yaa (The Everyday Wife) will participate in discussions, debates and – in Proudfoot’s case – a culinary demonstration.

Kingsmead Book Fair supports numerous literary projects across the country, encouraging and instilling a love of reading and contributing to South African literacy rates across the board. The Link Reading Programme, Alexandra Education Committee, Sparrow Schools, Read to Rise, and St Vincent’s School for the Deaf are all supported by this singular book fair.

The full programme for this year’s fair – aptly themed ‘Worlds Within Words’ – is available here.

Tickets can be purchased online via Webtickets.

‘Til May 13th!

Dead to Me

Book details


Without a Trace




Real Meal Revolution


On Trial with Mandela


The Woman Next Door


The Everyday Wife

» read article

When Irish eyes are crying: Michele Magwood reviews John Boyne’s latest novel The Heart’s Invisible Furies

John Boyne’s new novel explores the darker side of Irish culture, writes Michele Magwood for the Sunday Times

The Heart's Invisible Furies The Heart’s Invisible Furies
John Boyne (Doubleday)

When John Boyne wrote his previous novel A History of Loneliness, it was the first he had set in his native Ireland. Until then, with a dozen or so books already under his belt, he had never found the right story to tell and the right time to tell it. But with more and more evidence of child abuse at the hands of Catholic priests coming to light, he zeroed in on this disgrace, and on the diabolical power of the church.

In interviews about the book he explained that his own youth had been blighted by priests: “They preached love and practised hatred.”

It was a searing book, fuelled by his ire. But if readers thought his anger and subject matter were spent, they were wrong. He was just getting started, and his new novel The Heart’s Invisible Furies is also underpinned by a barely concealed rage, this time against hypocrisy and Ireland’s attitude to homosexuality and towards women.

On the phone from his home in Dublin, Boyne talks about the new book, a chronicle of the life of one Cyril Avery told in segments of seven years. “They say that every seven years our entire bodies regenerate. I thought it would be interesting, rather than following him constantly through his life, every event of his life, to just pick up every seven years and see where he is.”

The story begins in the rural village of Goleen in County Cork in 1945. The parish priest has discovered that Catherine Goggin, 16, is pregnant, and he blasts her from the pulpit. When she refuses to name the father he literally, appallingly, kicks her down the aisle, banishing her from the parish. Her shamed family will have nothing to do with her, so she climbs on a bus to Dublin.

“Women in Ireland have always had a rough go,” says Boyne, “so I’ve been trying in recent books to write strong female characters to comment on the role of women. I didn’t want Catherine to be a victim at all, I wanted her to be a strong woman who gets on with her life and does well for herself.”

She gives the baby up for adoption, and he is taken in by a well-to-do couple, the Averys, who name him Cyril. From the beginning they remind him that he’s “not a real Avery” and he grows up in a state of benign, distracted neglect.

“They aren’t mean to him in any way, but they’re not exactly loving either. They treat him as an adult when he’s really only a child.”

The lonely boy falls in love with one of his friends, and begins to realise he might be gay. “He’s terrified, he knows this is going to have a difficult effect on his life. Homosexuality was illegal in Ireland and was only decriminalised in the early ’90s.”

Boyne digs deep into his own experiences of growing up gay in that society. Master storyteller that he is, he spins it out for close on 600 pages as we accompany Cyril through the decades. There is discovery and disappointment, pain and elation, Aids and the IRA, a brief marriage and homophobic beatings.

He lives in Amsterdam and New York; he makes good choices and disastrous ones, and comes, finally, to know and accept himself. It is, of course, about the redemptive power of the human spirit. The priest sentenced Catherine and her baby to a life of shame; instead they would live fully and flourish.

One of the novel’s great pleasures is its comedy. To counter its seriousness, Boyne discharges scenes and asides ranging from ribald to deadpan. Maude, Cyril’s adoptive mother, is an eccentric, chain-smoking novelist whose books had “positive reviews but minuscule sales, something that pleased her enormously, for she considered popularity in the bookshops to be vulgar”.

A man is arrested for exposing himself to a young woman “but the charges were dropped when they learned she was a Protestant”.

“I enjoyed writing the comic sections,” he says. “It kind of opened up a part of my brain that I haven’t used much in the past. A lot of my books are quite bleak.”

If you’d encountered Boyne when he was in South Africa in 2015, appearing at the Franschhoek and Kingsmead book festivals, you would have noticed him checking his phone frequently. That’s because he was awaiting news of the referendum at home on same-sex marriage. When Ireland voted “yes” he was elated.

Two years on, though, he is more circumspect.

“Sixty percent wasn’t really a landslide, it meant 40% said no. There are still a lot of people out there who are really offended by how a person is born.”

Still, the country has changed for the better and the stranglehold of the church has diminished greatly.

“They’ve lost all moral authority,” he says. He envies the younger generation. “They don’t have the prejudices and phobias as older people do.”

Boyne is satisfied that he’s laid some ghosts to rest in the last two novels. “I feel I’ve tackled the two big subjects and I feel a weight off my shoulders, so I feel pretty good about that. I’m ready to try something else again.”

Boyne’s best books

The Go-BetweenThe Go-Between by LP Hartley. Probably my favourite novel and one of the great explorations of how a broken heart can shatter a life.
David CopperfieldDavid Copperfield by Charles Dickens. I read this when I was about 13 years old and it was my introduction to adult literature and epic storytelling.
The Cider House RulesThe Cider House Rules by John Irving. My favourite contemporary author, a novel that is political and feminist in nature, it opened my mind to how literature can speak on important subjects while never sacrificing story.
Wuthering HeightsWuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. This taught me how the hero of a novel does not have to be likable, he or she just has to be interesting.
A Boy's Own StoryA Boy’s Own Story by Edmund White. A novel I read when I was a teenager coming to terms with my sexuality. White’s fiction and non-fiction has always been both provocative and deeply felt.
The SlapThe Slap by Christos Tsiolkas. My favourite 21st-century novel. As well as being an incisive study of modern Australia and its attitude to race and gender, it’s a brilliant piece of storytelling with eight distinctive voices.
Follow Michele Magwood @michelemagwood

•Listen to the podcast here:

Book details

» read article

Fred Khumalo’s #ZuptasMustFall recipient of PanSALB Multilingualism Award 2017

Fred Khumalo was announced as the winner of the Pan South African Language Board’s Multilingualism Award for his satirical take on South Africa’s socio-political issues, #ZuptasMustFall and other rants (2016).

The announcement took place during the board’s annual Multilingualism Awards night at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Tuesday.

The recipients of the awards (of which the categories include ‘music’, ‘media’, ‘language and literature’ and ‘education’, among others) are commemorated for their contribution to promoting, preserving and protecting multilingualism in South Africa.

Khumalo is the author of Touch My Blood, Bitches’ Brew, Seven Steps to Heaven, The Lighter Side of Life on Robben Island and the recent Dancing the Death Drill.

» read article

Book launch: You Lost Me by Marita van der Vyver

You Lost Me Marita van der Vyver will be launching her new novel You Lost Me in conversation with PEN SA member Michele Magwood.

Event Details

Book Details

» read article

Drop The Ball advocates shattering the glass ceiling – starting at home

For women, a glass ceiling at work is not the only barrier to success – it’s also the emotional labour at home. Women have become accustomed to delegating, advocating and negotiating for themselves at the office, but when it comes to managing households, they still bear the brunt on their own shoulders. A simple solution is staring them in the face: negotiate with the men in their personal lives.

In Drop The Ball, Tiffany Dufu urges women to embrace imperfection, to expect less of themselves and more from others – enabling them to flourish at work and develop deeper, more meaningful relationships at home.

Book details

» read article