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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Book Bites: 11 November

Published in the Sunday Times

Mirror Cracked ***
Raashida Khan, Kwarts, R250

Azraa Hassim has the perfect life: successful career, a loving husband and two wonderful daughters. Her entire identity, however, is put to question when one of her children is diagnosed with a terminal illness, while her husband’s secrets come out of the closet. Khan has created a narrative that bluntly tackles subjects that are often considered taboo in Muslim society. A book whose strength lies in the conversations that it ignites after the final page is read. Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

War on Peace ****
Ronan Farrow, HarperCollins, R320

Well-known investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner Ronan Farrow has written a must-read for 2018 and beyond. Farrow investigates the effects that the changes in US foreign policy have had on the world. Although there are many personal stories interspersed between the revelations, the decline of international diplomacy that Farrow argues is certainly not overshadowed. Farrow contends that Bill Clinton’s focus on domestic affairs, a policy that was accelerated by US presidents after him, has neglected foreign policy and state departments across the globe. War on Peace is loaded with information and may take a while to absorb, but it’s a critical read to help understand the current state of international affairs. Jessica Levitt @jesslevitt

An American Story *****
Christopher Priest, Gollancz, R350

Remember being glued to the television on 9/11 as the twin towers crashed down? Most of us probably accept the official line on what happened and why. I’m an old cynic, and inclined to dismiss conspiracy theories, so a book that bases its premise on them has to be pretty good to beguile me. And An American Story is very good indeed. Set in the near future, where science journalist Ben Matson lives with his wife and kids in an independent Scotland, the story moves backwards and forwards between that time and shortly before 9/11 when Ben had an American girlfriend who died in the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. But did American Airways flight 77 really end up there, and did she really die on it? Christopher Priest builds a sense of deep unease – much more effective than edge-of-the-seat terror – as Ben struggles to make sense of what happened, in this intelligent and thought-provoking novel. Margaret von Klemperer

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‘Albright describes herself as an optimist who worries a lot. Hers is a timely warning,’ writes William Saunderson-Meyer of Madeleine Albright’s Fascism

Published in the Sunday Times


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Madeleine Albright at the Aspen Institute Forum in the palace of Versailles, France. Picture: Baptise Giroudon/Getty Images

 
Fascism: A Warning
****
Madeleine Albright, HarperCollins, R330

Sweden, the poster child for an inclusive, tolerant society, recently lurched to the right. So, too, has Italy, while Brazil, pending a presidential run-off, is poised on a sabre edge between left-wing and right-wing versions of populism.

In Europe, neo-Nazi movements have laid siege to the post-World War 2 liberal, multicultural consensus in Germany, Austria, France, Italy and Spain.

The whole of Eastern Europe – former Communist bloc countries like Romania, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Croatia – has shifted substantially towards and authoritarian style of governance that puts at risk the founding liberal principles of the European Union.

As the writer Primo Levi, himself a Holocaust survivor, ruefully observed, “every age has its own fascism”. He might well have added that no nation is exempt from the affliction, for modern neo-fascism is a global phenomenon and spans the political spectrum.

In our age, as attested to by nations like Russia, Turkey, Venezuela and North Korea, it’s a truism that bridges vast differences in history and ideology. In SA, it was the driving force of the Afrikaner/white Nationalist ideology and, in a breathtaking post-apartheid inversion, it similarly is shaping the black nationalism of the EFF.

It is entirely apt that this lucid, compelling and cautionary book comes from Madeleine Albright, the former US secretary of state (and first woman to serve in that position) in President Bill Clinton’s administration from 1997 to 2001. She has not only made and lived foreign policy, dealing intimately with the countries she dissects, but she was a child refugee from Nazi fascism, following Adolf Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia.

In her academic incarnation, she specialised in Eastern European politics, where the Marxian dream of a worker utopia had degenerated into a totalitarian nightmare. Hers has been a lifetime shaped by tussles with tyranny.

Hence, while some political purists may quibble, her rendering of fascism is deliberately broad. In an interview with The Guardian, she points out that defining fascism is difficult.

“First of all, I don’t think fascism is an ideology. I think it is a method, it’s a system … a means of seizing and holding power.”

Fascism’s leaders have an “aptitude for spectacle”, a cult-like ability to establish emotional links to the mob and bring to the surface “deep and often ugly” feelings.

Theirs is an intolerant, antidemocratic “doctrine of anger and fear”, marked by strong ethnic identification, as well as vilification and discrimination against non-members.

It often draws its energy from “a memory of humiliation” that percolates upwards from the general populace. The more painful the grounds for resentment, the easier it is for the fascist leader to build his following by “dangling prospects of renewal or vowing to take back what’s been stolen”.

It relies on intimidation and, often, violence. For it to succeed, the traditionally independent institutions of democracy, such as the police, the prosecutorial services, the judiciary, and civil service, all have to be brought under partisan control.

To the chagrin of Albright, the US, where her fleeing family eventually found refuge, is no longer the bulwark against fascism, of any hue, that it once was.

Under President Donald Trump, there is a resurgence of American isolationism, protectionism, and a tolerance of dictatorships, that Albright worries is eroding the US’s efficacy on the international stage, deepening divisions within the West, and emboldening antidemocratic forces.

While Albright is careful, unlike many Democratic Party leaders, to label Trump as a fascist, her scorn for him is manifest.

“Instead of challenging anti-democratic forces [globally], Trump is a comfort to them, a provider of excuses.”

The Trump administration’s disdain for the international consensus painstakingly built since 1945 is an incentive to a flourishing culture in what she calls the global “Petri dish of fascism”.

This is undermining a critical tenet for the relative equilibrium the world has experienced since, argues Albright – the belief that “victories are more readily won and easier to sustain through co-operative action than by nations acting alone”.

Albright describes herself as an optimist who worries a lot. Hers is a timely warning. @TheJaundicedEye

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“This pacy account, featuring a mix of memoir and analysis, hits the mark” – Carlos Amato reviews Judith February’s judicious new book

Published in the Sunday Times

Turning and Turning: Exploring the Complexities of SA’s Democracy ****
Judith February, Picador Africa, R280

With SA’s political economy feeling as stuck as a 24-year-old lump of chewing gum, the moment is right for grounded perspective on the country’s democratic journey. This pacy account, featuring a mix of memoir and analysis, hits the mark.

Since the late ’90s Judith February has undertaken critical research and advocacy on governance issues in SA. While at the Institute for a Democratic Alternative in South Africa (Idasa), she fought tirelessly for a full accounting of the graft involved in the late-’90s arms deal, and later for transparency in political party funding. Neither battle has yet been won, but the war is long, as her book makes clear.

February provides a particularly clear-eyed account of the continuities and causal links between the Zuma era and the Mbeki era, and even the Mandela era before it.

The public discourse – particularly the ad hominem language of Mbeki’s faction against its critics to the left and right alike – became coarser and more inflammatory. This, she notes, sowed the seeds of the Polokwane revolt and all the rhetorical, ethical and institutional decay that followed.

There is a similar long view in her analysis of state capture. Its origins, she argues, stretch way back to what might be described as the original sin of the democratic era – the signing of the arms deal. February co-authored a seminal report by Idasa on the volley of hideously wasteful arms transactions and their poisonous effect on the integrity of the state in 2001.

Among the casualties of the arms deal, she says, was the vigour of the standing committee on public accounts, which became a partisan battleground instead of the relatively non-partisan watchdog that it should be.

But all is not lost: the epic scale of the Zuma-era corruption, February notes, has reawakened the public’s concern about the strength and protection of public institutions – from parliament to the Chapter 9 institutions to the media to the judiciary – that monitor and curb executive power.

When damaged, these institutions can be repaired. But having seen the slow progress of the decay in meticulous detail, February warns that recovery is not a quick or easy process.

She also explores the increasingly fractious and racialised tenor of our national dialogue in recent years – at least as it is enacted and reflected in the media and social media.

SA is undergoing an autopsy of the fantasy of the “Rainbow Nation”, she argues.

But the reactionary nature of the debate – not least in the populist theatrics and violent rhetoric of the EFF – about what sort of reality should replace the fantasy is taking us nowhere.

The true, simmering potential of our society, she suggests, lies in the emerging worldview of Mokoni Chaka and Evert du Preez, the two Kroonstad boys who rescued injured passengers from the wreckage of a train in January this year.

Evert du Preez and Mokoni Chaka, two friends who rescued injured passengers from a train wreck in Kroonstad this year. Picture: YouTube.

 
The 12-year-old heroes have been best friends since preschool, and they are both bilingual in Sotho and Afrikaans. “Hulle is baie erg oor mekaar,” said Du Preez’s mother. (“They are very serious about each other.”)

“This should not be unusual in SA but it is,” writes February. “It is in the innocence of two 12-year-old boys that we understand that [Mandela’s] vision is worth fighting for every day and every inch of the way.” Even in this jaded moment, February refuses to give up on the slow transformative power of democracy itself – an ideal that she separates from its rainbowist rhetoric. @CarlosCartoons

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The 2018 SALA shortlist has been announced!

Via The South African Literary Awards

Celebrating 13th anniversary of their existence, the South African Literary Awards (SALA) have shortlisted twenty three (23) authors from a total of just under two hundred (200) submissions received for 2018. The winners will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony on the 6th November at UNISA.

Following the passing on of the 2nd National Poet Laureate, Prof Keorapetse Kgositsile, the prestigious South African Literary Awards will announce his successor as well as introducing two additional categories: Novel Award and Children’s Literature Award.

The Awards will be followed by the 6th Africa Century International African Writers Conference whose International African Writers Day Lecture will be delivered by Professor Kwesi Kwaa Prah, the renowned, highly respected scholar, prolific author and public speaker, who is also the founder of the Center for Advanced Studies of African Societies in South Africa.

The Conference is also taking place at UNISA over two days, i.e. 6th and 7th November 2018.

“We are excited that South African literature continues to flourish, with many young writers coming into the scene, sharing platforms with their more established and experienced counterparts,” said Morakabe Seakhoa, Project Director of the South African Literary Awards.

Seakhoa, however, expressed sadness and concern that “we still see less and less of works written in African languages”.

Founded by the wRite associates, in partnership with the national Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) in 2005, the main aim of the South African Literary Awards is to pay tribute to South African writers who have distinguished themselves as groundbreaking producers and creators of literature, while it celebrates literary excellence in the depiction and sharing of South Africa’s histories, value systems and philosophies and art as inscribed and preserved in all the languages of South Africa, particularly the official languages.

With thirteen successful years of existence, thirteen categories and over 161 authors honoured, the SA Literary Awards have become the most prestigious and respected literary accolades in the South African literary landscape. SALA prides itself in not only acknowledging established authors but as a platform to budding writers through the First-time Published Author Award category.

We congratulate the 2018 nominees for their sterling work and keeping South Africa’s literary heritage alive.

First-time Published Author Award

Celesté Fritze: Verlorenkop (Afrikaans)

Malebo Sephodi:Miss Behave (English)

Creative Non- Fiction Award

Deon Maas: Melk die heilige koeie: Van baarde en banting tot Zupta and zol (Afrikaans)

Jurgen Schadeberg: The Way I See It (English)

Sello Duiker Memorial Literary Award

NO SHORTLIST

Poetry Award

Johan Myburg: Uittogboek (Afrikaans)

Kelwyn Sole: Walking, Falling (English)

Literary Translators Award

Jeff Opland and Peter Mtuze: Umoya Wembongi: Collected Poems (1922 – 1935) by John Solilo (isiXhosa to English)

Jeff Opland and Peter Mtuze: Iziganeko Zesizwe: Occasional Poems (1900-1943) by S.E.K. Mqhayi (isiXhosa to English)

Nadine Gordimer Short Story Award

Nick Mulgrew: The First Law of Sadness (English)

Nicole Jaekel Strauss: As in die mond (Afrikaans)

Novel Award

Dan Sleigh: 1795 (Afrikaans)

Rehana Rossouw: New Times (English)

Children’s Literature Award

Marilyn J Honikman: There should have been five (English)

Jaco Jacobs: Daar’s nie ʼn krokodil in hierdie boek nie (Afrikaans)

Jaco Jacobs: Moenie hierdie boek eet nie (Afrikaans)

Marita van der Vyver: Al wat ek weet (Afrikaans)

Posthumous Literary Award

To be announced at the award ceremony: Body of work

Literary Journalism Award

To be announced at the award ceremony: Body of work

Lifetime Achievement Literary Award

Hermann Giliomee: Body of work (Afrikaans)

Ronnie Kasrils: Body of work (English)

Chairperson’s

To be announced at the award ceremony: Body of work

National Poet Laureate

To be announced at the award ceremony: Body of work

Verlorenkop

Book details
Verlorenkop by Celesté Fritze
Book homepage
EAN: 9780795801068
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Miss Behave

Miss Behave by Malebo Sephodi
EAN: 9781928337416
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Melk die heilige koeie

Melk die heilige koeie by Deon Maas
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EAN: 9780624081166
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The Way I See It

The Way I See It: A Memoir by Jürgen Schadenberg
EAN: 9781770105294
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Uittogboek

Uittogboek by Johan Myburg
EAN: 9781485307761
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Walking, Falling

Walking, Falling by Kelwyn Sole
EAN: 9780987028280
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John Solilo: Umoya wembongi

John Solilo: Umoya wembongi: Collected poems (1922–1935) edited by Jeff Opland, Peter Mtuze
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EAN: 9781869143121
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S.E.K. Mqhayi

S.E.K. Mqhayi: Iziganeko zesizwe: Occasional poems (1900–1943) edited by Jeff Opland, Peter T Mtuze
EAN: 9781869143343
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The First Law of Sadness

The First Law of Sadness by Nick Mulgrew
EAN: 9781485625780
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As in die Mond

As in die Mond by Nicole Jaekel Strauss
EAN: 9780795801358
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1795

1795 by Dan Sleigh
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EAN: 9780624073307
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New Times

New Times by Rehana Rossouw
EAN: 9781431425808
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There Should Have Been Five

There Should Have Been Five by Marilyn Honikman
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EAN: 9780624076568
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Daar's nie 'n krokodil in hierdie boek nie

Daar’s nie ‘n krokodil in hierdie boek nie by Jaco Jacobs, illustrated by Chris Venter
EAN: 9780799383836
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Moenie hierdie boek eet nie!

Moenie hierdie boek eet nie! : ’n Rympie vir elke dag van die jaar by Jaco Jacobs, illustrated by Zinelda McDonald
EAN: 9780799379211
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Al wat ek weet

Al wat ek weet by Marita Van der Vyver
EAN: 9780799378993
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Kate Sidley on what new book lists tell you about the world

Published in the Sunday Times

Every month, publishers send out This Month’s Highlights e-mails to reviewers like me. The point of the mail is for us to select books to review, but I use it as a handy snapshot of the state of the world. It’s almost as effective as reading the newspaper, and a lot quicker. From recent months’ offerings, I have developed the following worldview:

We wuz robbed

Books about the pillage of the public purse are a thriving industry in SA. There’s at least one new one a month – Licence to Loot; How To Steal a City; Shadow State; Other titles with the words ‘plunder’ and ‘capture’ – and they barely even overlap, so rich is the seam to be mined. There’s enough meat for sequels – I imagine Licence to Loot More, How To Steal Another City and Even Shadowier State.

Veg is the new Banting

The lists are littered with vegetarian and vegan recipe books like The Plant-Based Cookbook and Vegan Christmas. OK, so the titles lack the finger-licking allure of How To Be A Domestic Goddess, which made the full-creamy Nigella Lawson a welcome presence in our kitchens, but no animals were harmed in their making. South African restaurants still relying on pasta arrabiata and the “vegetarian platter” (aka, a plate of fried brown things) as their extensive vegetarian menu, could learn a thing or two.

#MenAreTrash

The number of stories about spousal abuse and gender-based violence is simply appalling. Famous names like Tracy Going (Brutal Legacy) and Vanessa Govender (Beaten But Not Broken) – and lesser-known but equally brave survivors – are telling their stories.

But people are pretty awesome

There they are, overcoming cancer, fighting apartheid (100 Mandela Moments), swimming long distances in very cold water, challenging injustice, pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and climbing mountains on their one remaining leg – not at the same time, just to be clear. And we get to read about it. It’s properly inspiring.

Except for the ones that are psychos

There they are, murdering, abusing children, running apartheid death squads, mucking up the country (The Lost Boys of Bird Island being a case in point). And we get to read about it. It’s properly depressing.

We drink too much

The Craft Beer Dictionary, The Bourbon Bible, The Vodka Lover’s Guide to Cirrhosis, and wine, wine, wine. The world is all boozed up, and increasingly adventurously so – no longer does one simply add some T to one’s G – you toss in lavender and star anise and burnt orange peel.

We need help!

People, we are struggling! And there are books to help. From colour therapy to feng shui, to spiritual guidance, to diet secrets, to career advice, they make big promises – like Mr Bitcoin: How I Became a Bitcoin Millionaire at 21. I can’t vouch for the success of the methods, but the category is booming.

We need escape

Leave the predictable daily grind for the mystery of novels where people who are thought dead turn out not to be, or whether the assumed killer is but a red herring. Be transported to Tuscany, into the chiselled arms of a handsome stranger. Or to a Chicago speakeasy. Or to suburban London. Any place, really. Any place but where you are.

Book details
Licence to Loot
Licence to Loot by Stephan Hofstatter
EAN: 9781776093120
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How To Steal A City

How To Steal A City: The Battle For Nelson Mandela Bay by Crispian Oliver
EAN: 9781868428205
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Shadow State

Shadow State: The Politics of State Capture by Ivor Chipkin, Mark Swilling
EAN: 9781776142125
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The Plant-Based Cookbook

The Plant-Based Cookbook by Ella Mills
EAN: 9781473639218
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Vegan Christmas

Vegan Christmas by Gaz Oakley
EAN: 9781787132672
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Brutal Legacy

Brutal Legacy: A Memoir by Tracy Going
EAN: 9781928420125
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Beaten but not Broken

Beaten but not Broken by Vanessa Govender
EAN: 9781431426799
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100 Mandela Moments

100 Mandela Moments by Kate Sidley
EAN: 9781868429028
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The Lost Boys of Bird Island

The Lost Boys of Bird Island: A shocking exposé from within the heart of the NP government by Mark Minnie, Chris Steyn
EAN: 9780624081432
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The Craft Beer Dictionary

The Craft Beer Dictionary by Richard Croasdale
EAN: 9781784723880
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The Bourbon Bible

The Bourbon Bible by Eric Zandona
EAN: 9781784724573
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Mr Bitcoin

Mr Bitcoin: How I became a millionaire at 21 by Mpho Dagada
EAN: 9781431426720
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One week until FLF 2018!

And the countdown continues!

The quaint Western Cape town of Franschhoek will be accommodating South Africa’s literary greats and bibliophiles alike from 18 – 20 May.

This annual literary festival’s 2018 line-up includes discussions ranging from the André P Brink memorial wherein Elinor Sisulu will focus on the life and times of Ahmed Kathrada, with an introduction by Karina Szczurek (The Fifth Mrs Brink); a panel discussion on what feminism looks like in 2018, featuring discussants Mohale Mashigo (The Yearning), Jen Thorpe (Feminism Is), Helen Moffett (Feminism Is) and social commentator and public speaker Tshegofatso Senne; and Jacques Pauw (The President’s Keepers) and Jan-Jan Joubert (Who Will Rule in 2019?) deliberating whether there’s a ‘recipe’ for an ideal South African president with international relations scholar Oscar van Heerden.

And that’s just day one!

Find the full programme here.

The Fifth Mrs Brink

Book details

 
 

The Yearning

 
 

Feminism Is

 
 
 
 
The President's Keepers

 
 
 
Who Will Rule in 2019?


» read article

Two weeks until FLF 2018!

And the countdown continues!

The quaint Western Cape town of Franschhoek will be accommodating South Africa’s literary greats and bibliophiles alike from 18 – 20 May.

This annual literary festival’s 2018 line-up includes discussions ranging from the André P Brink memorial wherein Elinor Sisulu will focus on the life and times of Ahmed Kathrada, with an introduction by Karina Szczurek (The Fifth Mrs Brink); a panel discussion on what feminism looks like in 2018, featuring discussants Mohale Mashigo (The Yearning), Jen Thorpe (Feminism Is), Helen Moffett (Feminism Is) and social commentator and public speaker Tshegofatso Senne; and Jacques Pauw (The President’s Keepers) and Jan-Jan Joubert (Who Will Rule in 2019?) deliberating whether there’s a ‘recipe’ for an ideal South African president with international relations scholar Oscar van Heerden.

And that’s just day one!

Find the full programme here.

The Fifth Mrs Brink

Book details
The Fifth Mrs Brink by Karina Szczurek
EAN: 9781868428038
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The Yearning

The Yearning by Mohale Mashigo
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EAN: 9781770104839
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Feminism Is

Feminism Is: South Africans Speak Their Truth edited by Jen Thorpe
EAN: 9780795708275
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The President's Keeper

The President’s Keepers: Those Keeping Zuma in Power and out of Prison by Jacques Pauw
EAN: 9780624083030
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Who Will Rule in 2019?

Who Will Rule in 2019? by Jan-Jan Joubert
EAN: 9781868428700
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Kingsmead Book Fair programme and authors announced!

Authors, editors, poets and publishers will congregate at Kingsmead College on Saturday 12 May from 8:30 AM to 6 PM for the seventh 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 mysterious processes authors go through to get their stories onto the page.

Authors you can look forward to include Achmat Dangor (Bitter Fruit, Dikeledi), Sisonke Msimang (Always Another Country), Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ (Stay With Me), Claire Bisseker (On the Brink), Fred Khumalo (Bitches’ Brew), Fred Strydom (The Inside-Out Man), Glynnis Breytenbach (Rule of Law), Gregg Hurwitz (HellBent), Ishay Govender-Ypma (Curry), Kate Mosse (The Burning Chambers), Jacques Pauw (The President’s Keepers), Sally Partridge (Mine), Zinzi Clemmons (What We Lose), Pumla Dineo-Gqola (Reflecting Rogue), Redi Tlhabi (Khwezi), Tracy Going (Brutal Legacy), Rehana Rossouw (New Times), Peter Harris (Bare Ground), Mandy Wiener (Killing Kebble), and many, many more…

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 is available here.

Tickets can be purchased online via WebTickets.

‘Til May 12th!

Bitter Fruit

Book details

 
 
Dikeledi

 
 
 

Always Another Country

 
 
 

Stay With Me

 
 
 

On the Brink

 
 
 

Bitches' Brew

 
 
 

The Inside-Out Man

 
 
 

Rule of Law

 
 
 

HellBent

 
 
 

The Burning Chambers

 
 
 

The President's Keeper

 
 
 

Mine

 
 
 

What We Lose

 
 
 

Reflecting Rogue

 
 
 

Khwezi

 
 
 

Brutal Legacy

 
 
 

New Times

 
 
 

Bare Ground

 
 
 

Killing Kebble


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Sunday Times Literary Awards Longlist 2018 announced

Announcing the longlists for South Africa’s most prestigious annual literary awards, the Alan Paton Award for non-fiction and the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize, in association with Porcupine Ridge. The shortlists will be announced in May.

BARRY RONGE FICTION PRIZE

This is the 18th year of the Sunday Times fiction prize, named for Barry Ronge, the arts commentator who was one of the founders of our literary awards. The criteria stipulate that the winning novel should be one of “rare imagination and style . . . a tale so compelling as to become an enduring landmark of contemporary fiction”.

“South African novelists have once again demonstrated their creative power. This year’s longlist invites the reader to tussle with uncomfortable questions of politics, loss, greed, mythology, heroism and trauma.

Vivid storytelling and unflinching characterization help us to explore vulnerabilities in our quest for love, justice, kindness and compassion. What particularly stands out this year is the inspiration drawn from the complicated relationship between fact and fiction. Some of the authors deftly draw us in to grapple with contemporary South African issues of rampant corruption, devastating greed, and gender disparity. Others bravely take us on a tour of an unkind history and give us a new lens through which to examine our reflections.

Many of the stories are deeply personal, allowing the reader to resonate, on a human level, with the characters’ innermost fears, secret fantasies and their darkest sins. The novels will compel you to examine your humanity, question your unease and define your aspirations. The longlist lays bare the complex and confused time we live in. What an incredible joy and honour to have delighted in these stories that pierce at our hearts. It is going to be very difficult to choose one winner.” - Africa Melane

LONGLIST

Selling LipService, Tammy Baikie (Jacana Media)

Grace, Barbara Boswell (Modjaji Books)

A Handful of Earth, Simon Bruinders (Penguin Books)

Softness of the Lime, Maxine Case (Umuzi)

Dikeledi, Achmat Dangor (Picador Africa)

Accident, Dawn Garisch (Modjaji Books)

Bare Ground, Peter Harris, (Picador Africa)

I am Pandarus, Michiel Heyns (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg, Harry Kalmer (Penguin)

Dancing the Death Drill, Fred Khumalo (Umuzi)

Asylum, Marcus Low (Picador Africa)

The Blessed Girl, Angela Makholwa (Pan Macmillan)

Johannesburg, Fiona Melrose (Little, Brown)

If I Stay Right Here, Chwayita Ngamlana (Blackbird Books)

The Last Stop, Thabiso Mofokeng (Blackbird Books)

The Third Reel, SJ Naudé (Umuzi)

Unpresidented, Paige Nick (B&N)

Imitation, Leonhard Praeg (UKZN Press)

Bird-Monk Seding, Lesego Rampolokeng (Deep South)

New Times, Rehana Rossouw (Jacana Media)

The Camp Whore, Francois Smith – translated by Dominique Botha (Tafelberg)

Spire, Fiona Snyckers (Clockwork Books)

Son/Seun, Neil Sonnekus (MF Books Joburg)

A Gap in the Hedge, Johan Vlok Louw (Umuzi)

The Shallows, Ingrid Winterbach – translated by Michiel Heyns (Human & Rousseau)

JUDGES

Africa Melane – Chair

Melane is the host of the Weekend Breakfast Show on CapeTalk. He is also an ambassador for LeadSA, an initiative of Primedia Broadcasting and Independent Newspapers. Melane studied accounting at the University of Cape Town and did articles at PwC. He then went on to teach a professional development course to first-year students in the faculty of health sciences at the University of Cape Town. Melane is the chairman of MODILA, a trust that offers educational programmes to raise awareness and provides training in design, innovation, entrepreneurship and art studies. He also serves on the board of Cape Town Opera, Africa’s premier opera company.
 
 
Kate Rogan

Rogan is the owner of Love Books, an independent book shop in Johannesburg. Rogan has a degree in English from the University of Cape Town and a post-graduate degree English (Hons) from Stellenbosch University, where she studied under Michiel Heyns. She started her working life as a copywriter at 702, then moved into publishing where she was a commissioning editor at Zebra Press in its early days. She moved back to radio as a producer and for many years produced The Book Show for Jenny Crwys-Williams. In 2009 she started Love Books.
 
 
 

Ken Barris

Barris is a writer, book critic, NRF-rated academic, poet and keen photographer. His work has been translated into Turkish, Danish, French, German and Slovenian, and has appeared in about 30 anthologies. He has won various literary awards, including the Ingrid Jonker Prize, the M-Net Book Prize, and most recently, the University of Johannesburg Prize, for his novel Life Underwater. He has published five novels, two collections of poetry, and two collections of short stories. The most recent, The Life of Worm & Other Misconceptions, was released last year.
 
 
 
ALAN PATON NON-FICTION AWARD

This is the 29th year the Alan Paton Award will be bestowed on a book that presents “the illumination of truthfulness, especially those forms of it that are new, delicate, unfashionable and fly in the face of power”, and that demonstrates “compassion, elegance of writing, and intellectual and moral integrity”.

“It is inspiring to note that out of the 25 books on a very prestigious long list, eight have been written by women, and as two of the books have been co-authored, it means we have 10 female authors in the running.

Dominant trends this year include corruption and state capture which are probed mercilessly. The Gupta family’s wheeling and dealing as well as the former President Jacob Zuma’s alleged malfeasance come under intense scrutiny from several quarters. There are journeys into the criminal underworld and insights into past and present spy networks that read like thrillers, and a selection of moving biographies and memoirs of courageous struggles by contemporary and historic figures. These intensely personal accounts help us understand the bigger picture. There are also specialist offerings that delve into topics as diverse as regional history, social activism, sport, anthropology and feminism.

Each of the books on the 2018 long list is like a pointer on a road map, illuminating the place in which we now find ourselves. A common thread running through the longlisted books is the question of how on earth did we get here? At the TRC hearings a sentiment repeated like a litany over many months, was that of people just wanting to know what happened. Revenge, compensation or retribution seemed to take a backseat for many testifying. We need to know what happened if we want to shape a solid, healthier future and together these books answer myriad questions about the road we have travelled as a nation.” - Sylvia Vollenhoven

LONGLIST

Spy: Uncovering Craig Williamson, Jonathan Ancer (Jacana Media)

Almost Human: The Astonishing Tale of Homo Naledi, Lee Berger (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

65 Years of Friendship, George Bizos (Umuzi)

Rule of Law: A Memoir, Glynnis Breytenbach with Nechama Brodie (Pan Macmillan)

Reflecting Rogue: Inside the Mind of a Feminist, Pumla Dineo Gqola (MF Books Joburg)

Kingdom, Power, Glory: Mugabe, Zanu and the Quest for Supremacy 1960-87, Stuart Doran (Bookstorm)

Skollie: One Man’s Struggle to Survive by Telling Stories, John W Fredericks (Zebra Press)

No Longer Whispering to Power: The Story of Thuli Madonsela, Thandeka Gqubule (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

Being Chris Hani’s Daughter, Lindiwe Hani and Melinda Ferguson (MF Books Joburg)

Get Up! Stand Up! Personal Journeys Towards Social Justice, Mark Heywood (Tafelberg)

A Simple Man: Kasrils and the Zuma Enigma, Ronnie Kasrils (Jacana Media)

Dare Not Linger: The Presidential Years, Nelson Mandela and Mandla Langa (Pan Macmillan)

Unmasked: Why The ANC Failed to Govern, Khulu Mbatha (KMMR)

Being a Black Springbok: The Thando Manana Story, Sibusiso Mjikeliso (Pan Macmillan)

Democracy & Delusion: 10 Myths in South African Politics, Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh (Tafelberg)

Always Another Country: A Memoir of Exile and Home, Sisonke Msimang (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

The Republic of Gupta: A Story of State Capture, Pieter-Louis Myburgh (Penguin Books)

The Man Who Founded the ANC: A Biography of Pixley Ka Isaka Seme, Bongani Ngqulunga (Penguin Books)

Colour Me Yellow: Searching for my family truth, Thuli Nhlapo (Kwela)

How to Steal a City: The Battle for Nelson Mandela Bay, Crispian Olver (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

The President’s Keepers: Those Keeping Zuma in Power and Out of Prison, Jacques Pauw (Tafelberg)

Miss Behave, Malebo Sephodi (Blackbird Books)

Hitmen for Hire: Exposing South Africa’s Underworld, Mark Shaw (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

Khwezi: The Remarkable Story Of Fezekile Ntsukela Kuzwayo, Redi Tlhabi (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

Apartheid Guns and Money: A Tale of Profit, Hennie van Vuuren (Jacana Media)

JUDGES

Sylvia Vollenhoven – Chair

Vollenhoven is a writer, journalist and filmmaker whose work has won many awards including the 2016 Mbokodo Award for Literature and the Adelaide Tambo Award for Human Rights in the Arts. Vollenhoven was the South African producer for the BBC mini-series Mandela the Living Legend, and is also a Knight Fellow, which is funded by the John S. and James L Knight Foundation with additional support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
 
 
Edwin Cameron

Cameron has been a Justice of South Africa’s highest court, the Constitutional Court, since 2009. Previously a human rights lawyer, President Mandela appointed him a Judge of the High Court in 1994 and he went on to be a Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal. He was a fierce critic of President Mbeki’s AIDS-denialist policies. Cameron’s memoir Witness to AIDS was joint winner of the Alan Paton Prize in 2005 and his second memoir Justice: A Personal Account won a South African Literary Award in 2014. He has received many honours for his legal and human rights work.
 
 
 
 
 
Paddi Clay

Clay has more than 40 years of experience in the media, covering radio, print, and online journalism. She has a BA Degree in English and Drama from UCT and an MA in Journalism Leadership from the University of Central Lancashire, UK. She has reported for the Rand Daily Mail and Capital Radio, and wrote for the FT and US News and World Report. A life-long campaigner for freedom of expression and a free, independent, media, she spent 15 years as head of the Graduate Journalism Training Programme at what is now Tiso Blackstar and retired in January 2017. She continues to coach and lecture.
 
 
 
 

 
Book details

 
 
 
 
Almost Human

 
 
 
 
65 Years of Friendship

 
 
 
 
Rule of Law

 
 
 
 
Reflecting Rogue

 
 
 
 
Kingdom, power, glory

 
 
 
 
Skollie

 
 
 
 
No Longer Whispering to Power

 
 
 
 
Being Chris Hani's Daughter

 
 
 
 
Get Up! Stand Up!

 
 
 
 
A Simple Man

 
 
 
 
Dare Not Linger

 
 
 
 
Unmasked

 
 
 
 
Being a Black Springbok

 
 
 
 
Democracy and Delusion

 
 
 
 
Always Another Country

 
 
 
 
The Republic of Gupta

 
 
 
 
The Man Who Founded the ANC

 
 
 
 
Colour Me Yellow

 
 
 
 
How To Steal A City

 
 
 
 
The President's Keeper

 
 
 
 
Miss Behave

 
 
 
 
Hitmen for Hire

 
 
 
 
Khwezi

 
 
 
 
Apartheid Guns and Money

 
 
 
 
Selling Lip Service

 
 
 
 
Grace

 
 
 
 
A Handful of Earth

 
 
 
 
Softness of the Lime

 
 
 
 
Dikeledi

 
 
 
 
Accident

 
 
 
 
Bare Ground

 
 
 
 
I am Pandarus

 
 
 
 
A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg

 
 
 
 
Dancing the Death Drill

 
 
 
 
Asylum

 
 
 
 
The Blessed Girl

 
 
 
 
Johannesburg

 
 
 
 
If I Stay Right Here

 
 
 
 
The Last Stop

 
 
 
 
The Third Reel

 
 
 
 
Unpresidented

 
 
 
 
Imitation

 
 
 
 
Bird-Monk Seding

 
 
 
 
New Times

 
 
 
 
The Camp Whore

 
 
 
 
SPIRE

 
 
 
 
Son

 
 
 
 
A Gap in the Hedge

 
 
 
 
The Shallows


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Bron Sibree reviews Amy Chua’s new book which traces tribalism in America

Published in the Sunday Times


Nuestra Senora de la Santa Muerta (Our Lady of the Holy Death) is a female deity personifying death. Her prominent cult holds many poor Hispanic Americans in its grip Picture: Getty Images

Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations
*****
Amy Chua, Bloomsbury, R295

Amy Chua is no stranger to controversy or bestseller lists. In the wake of her 2011 bestselling memoir about her attempt to raise her daughters the strict “Chinese” way, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, the Yale law professor garnered death threats and accolades. Then came the outcry triggered by her 2015 book, The Triple Package, which examined why some ethnic and religious groups outperform others in America. Co-written with her Yale professor husband Jed Rubenfeld, it was accused of new racism but it, too, became a New York Times bestseller.

“I never think my books are going to be controversial,” says Chua, “but somehow I keep getting into trouble. I just wonder what’s going to happen with this one,” she says of her fifth book, Political Tribes. “I’m sure I’ll get into trouble again.”

There’s no denying that Political Tribes – which delivers new, uncomfortable insights into tribalism in America and the human instinct to form tribes – is a biting criticism of conventional American thought on everything from foreign policy through to identity politics and the rise of Trump. In examining why America, a land of immigrants, is so uniquely, dangerously, blinkered to tribal politics at home and abroad, Political Tribes also delivers stinging home-truths – any one of which can ignite controversy.

Yet it is American exceptionalism, argues Chua, that blinds it to tribal identities abroad. For America is exceptional, maintains this American-born daughter of ethnic Chinese immigrants from the Philippines. Its ethnicity-transcending national identity, and its unusual success in assimilating people from diverse origins, qualifies it as a super-group, the only one among the world’s great powers. “This has shaped how we see the rest of the world, and deeply influenced our foreign policy,” says Chua. “This is not to say we haven’t got terrible racism, but unlike France, or even England, this is a country with a very strong national identity. So American people just think ‘Oh Sunnis and Shias, why can’t they just be Iraqis?’ It’s a naive view, and it’s pretty ignorant.”

Tribalism propelled Trump to the White House, argues Chua. Race has been traditionally at the core of American tribalism, but Chua notes that America is “on the verge of an unprecedented demographic transformation”. Yet even the growing “whitelash” to the “browning of America” which many consider a factor in Trump’s rise to power, is as complex and divided as the identity politics of both left and right – which are fracturing so rapidly thanks to bigotry and racism on one side and political correctness and a kind of “oppression Olympics” (when two or more groups compete to prove themselves more oppressed than the other) on the other. She believes it is tearing the country apart. Her insights into the sports of Nascar and World Wrestling, powerful tribal identities that see themselves as the “true America”, are illuminating.

But it is her analysis of lesser-known tribal identities like the Sovereign Citizens, a bizarre anti-government group that law-enforcement agencies have identified as a greater threat to their communities than Islamic extremists, and the Prosperity Gospel – a Christian sect that preaches that being rich is divine and is especially popular with disadvantaged minorities – that are as disturbing as they are revelatory. Not to mention the potent tribal identities of America’s 27000 street gangs. Or the lure of Narco-saints like Nuestra Senora de la Santa Muerta (Our Lady of the Holy Death), a cult which holds many poor Hispanic Americans in its grip as well as many members of the LGBTQIA community.

“America’s identity as this single, unified country that still allows for a lot of diversity is really under threat today, and from both sides. It’s why I wrote the book, so that we can get back to seeing that this super-group status we have is extremely unique,” says Chua. “It’s about saving America, the country that my parents love, and that I love.” @BronSibree

Political Tribes

Book details


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