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Archive for the ‘Sport’ Category

Mike Procter’s autobiography a witty, concise read on the events that shaped his life after his storied career as a player, writes Khanyiso Tshwaku

Published in the Sunday Times

By Khanyiso Tshwaku

Caught in the MiddleCaught in the Middle
Mike Procter, Pitch Publishing, R370

The title of Mike Procter’s autobiography Caught in the Middle is an apt one considering he found himself at the centre of two of cricket’s hairiest moments in the mid-2000s. Those events were the “ball tampering” Oval 2006 test match between Pakistan and England and the infamous “Monkeygate” New Year’s test between Australia and India in Sydney in 2008.

On both occasions, he was the match referee. After those acrimonious tests, the International Cricket Council changed the rules to ensure certain infractions were dealt with at a level higher than that of a match referee.

In the 2006 encounter, the Pakistan team led by Inzamam-ul-Haq refused to come out after tea on the fourth day after being accused by the abrasive and controversial Australian umpire Darrell Hair of altering the condition of the match ball.

The 2008 issue centred around Indian offspinner Harbhajan Singh racially abusing Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds, who is of West Indian descent, by calling him a monkey.

These two moments are the centre of the well-crafted 239-page book, which focuses on Procter’s career as referee rather than player.

Procter said the incidents in London and Sydney changed his outlook on the game.

“The Darrell Hair thing was part and parcel of cricket. It was very unusual but that’s something you’d expect to see in cricket once in a while, but the Harbhajan Singh one, I would’ve preferred not to deal with that one,” Procter said.

It’s a book that can be devoured easily, thanks to Lungani Zama’s brevity and Procter’s witty but concise tone. With this book being Procter’s third, it was a smart move to speak less about his storied career as a player – cut short by anti-apartheid sanctions – and focus more on the events that shaped his life afterwards.

It’s worth remembering he was South African cricket’s first post-isolation coach, from 1991 to 1994, a tenure that included the five-run win over Australia in Sydney in 1994. – Khanyiso Tshwaku @kaymorizm

Book details

  • Caught in the Middle: Monkeygate, Politics and Other Hairy Issues; the Autobiography of Mike Procter by Mike Procter, Lungani Zama
    EAN: 9781785312168
    Find this book with BOOK Finder!

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2017 Alan Paton non-fiction longlist

Published in the Sunday Times


Announcing the longlists for the most prestigious annual literary awards, the Alan Paton Award for non-fiction, in association with Porcupine Ridge. The shortlists will be announced in May.

This is the 28th 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”.

This year’s Alan Paton Award judging panel is Pippa Green (chair), Tinyiko Maluleke and Johann Kriegler.

2017 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award Judges

Pippa Green (chair) Green is communications and media manager of the Research Project on Employment, Income Distribution and Inclusive Growth. Head of the journalism programme at the University of Pretoria from 2009 to 2014, she was educated at the University of Cape Town and Columbia University in New York City, where she earned an MSc in journalism. She is the author of Choice, not Fate: The Life and Times of Trevor Manuel (2008). Green is a recipient of many awards such as the Nieman Fellowship.
Tinyiko Maluleke Maluleke serves as adviser to the principal and vice-chancellor at the University of Pretoria, and is an extraordinary professor at the University of South Africa. He has been a visiting professor at various universities, including Hamburg University in Germany and Duke University in the US. He is an elected member of the Academy of Science of South Africa, a columnist for the Mail & Guardian and Sunday Independent newspapers, and reviews books for the Sunday Times.
Johann Kriegler After 25 years at the bar and 20 on the bench, when Kriegler’s term as a Constitutional Court judge ended he looked forward to sitting on the stoep and catching up on all the books he’d missed out on. It didn’t work out like that. Having chaired the Independent Electoral Commission for the 1994 elections, he has been engaged by the African Union, the UN and a variety of NGOs in a range of electoral and judicial activities across the world. At home, arbitrations, advocacy training and his activities in human-rights and rule-of-law organisations occupy much of his time.

Chairperson Pippa Green’s remarks on the Alan Paton Award longlist:

There are 27 books on the longlist. This is more than usual but reflects the excellence and originality of many of the non-fiction books published in 2016. They include a number of memoirs, biographies and autobiographies, which tell the stories of intimate family relationships against a backdrop of the huge historical forces that have swept the last century. There are books about and by key public figures; there are those that focus on fascinating people who are not well known, such as stowaways, gangsters, police officers, miners, transgender people, and foot soldiers. There are important topics covered too: the history of the independent trade union movement, of science, of African languages, as well as key moments of disjuncture in our current society. The books raise critical questions about our past, present and future. Together they tell a story of our fractured and bound humanity, not only in South Africa but around the world and through time. — Pippa Green

Last year’s Alan Paton Award winner was Pumla Dineo Gqola for her book Rape: A South African Nightmare, published by MF Books Joburg. The winners of the 2017 Alan Paton Award and Barry Ronge Fiction Prize will each receive R100 000.


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Alan Paton Award shortlist: Maxine Case talks about the importance of the story of Papwa: Golf’s Lost Legend

Published in the Sunday Times

Alan Paton Award shortlist: Maxine Case talks about the importance of the story of Papwa: Golf’s Lost Legend

PapwaPapwa: Golf’s Lost Legend
Maxine Case (Kwela)

Briefly outline Papwa Sewgolum’s life.

The reductive facts – illiterate caddie, champion of the black golfing circuit, three-time winner of the Dutch Open, Indian golfer who beat Gary Player several times, 1965 Natal Open champion forced to receive his prize in the rain – are also the facts I attempted to rise above. If Papwa is remembered at all, it is for one of these things. I wanted to show him as a nuanced character and contextualise him in his world.

His story has been told before. What new insights do you bring to it?

When writing and researching this book, I found myself constantly wanting to correct published inaccuracies around Papwa’s life. It bugged me if a reported score was a stroke out in one source, when three other sources had it as something else. More seriously, a previously published work has Papwa dying in a shebeen. While this is dramatic and makes for a good cautionary tale, I felt that the true, unplumbed details of his life were dramatic enough without need for embellishment. I like to think that I bring a woman’s perspective to a story that in some parts is seen as belonging to the domain of men – and golfers!

How did you go about the research?

I was able to interview several members of Papwa’s family and had access to more than 40 hours of video interviews and transcripts of his friends, family and fellow golfers – all of whom had their own opinions of what motivated Papwa and how he’d experienced certain pivotal events. In addition, I spent weeks going through various newspaper and magazine archives, so that much of what I wrote, or alluded to, stemmed from published interviews Papwa had given. I had a copy of Graham Wolfe’s unpublished autobiography, which detailed the intersection of his and Papwa’s lives. I also had access to an extensive library of photographs. When writing about him winning his first tournament, for example, I examined the photograph taken of an exuberant Papwa clutching his trophy and used that as a prompt.

Your debut novel, All We Have Left Unsaid, won several prizes. Were you keen to try your hand at non-fiction?

Initially, I began writing Papwa as a novel. However, the more I researched, the more convinced I became that the truth of Papwa’s life was more intriguing than any fictions manufactured around him, and so decided to write a biography instead.

Did you find the non-fiction form more difficult to write than fiction?

What was hardest was to cede my authority as a writer. In writing non-fiction, particularly in trying to re-establish the facts of a character like Papwa, who died so long ago, I had to rely on the memories, impressions and facts presented by others, as opposed to the freedom of fiction which allows me to make informed decisions regarding my character’s journey and the creative licence to make things up.

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

I hope readers will see that the book is about more than one man called Papwa Sewgolum. As a descendant, I wanted to tell the story of Indian South Africans. I set out to explore the effect of apartheid on an individual’s life, using Papwa as a vehicle for this, and in particular, the plight of sportspeople of colour during those years. I was interested to learn how boycotts and protests against the apartheid government’s sporting policies served as a catalyst for the dismantling of the entire system.

Transformation in sport is a contentious topic. How does your biography fit into the conversation?

It is my wish that the biography is a reminder of the great cost at which this transformation was achieved.

How has his family responded to this biography?

As far as I can tell, Papwa’s family are pleased, but you’d have to ask them. I could have taken a more salacious approach, but that was not the story I set out to write. That being said, I didn’t skirt around Papwa’s personal issues, or censor myself either.

Related stories:

Book details

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Q and A with Ryan Sandes, author of Trail Blazer: My Life as an Ultra-distance Trail Runner

Published in the Sunday Times

Trail BlazerWhat was the first novel you read?

The first book that comes to mind is It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life by Lance Armstrong.

What keeps you awake at night?

Thoughts of new adventures, like wanting to try to traverse the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda.

Who’s your favourite fictional hero?

He-Man from the animated TV show He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. I had the whole set as a kid.

Which current book will you remember in 10 years?

Ultramarathon Man by Dean Karnazes.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“Cool” and “awesome”.

What are you working on next?

Running 100 miles around Mont Blanc in Europe and planning an adventure in the Rwenzori Mountains.

What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?

There are too many, but I’ll go with Run or Die, Kílian Jornet’s autobiography.

Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with?

He is not around anymore, but it would be Nelson Mandela. He is my ultimate hero.

Do you keep a diary?

No, but I do keep a training log.

Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction? Why?

Non-fiction, as I like to keep it real and hear actual stories.

Book details

Image credit: Kolesky Red Bull Content Pool

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Orlando Pirates to launch Reading Stars book club and mini library for children at Orlando Stadium

Orlando Pirates Football Club will launch its Reading Stars Programme next week at Orlando Stadium.

The launch coincides with World Read Aloud Day, Wednesday, 24 February.

National reading-for-enjoyment campaign Nal’ibali will also be celebrating World Read Aloud Day at Orlando Stadium, where Yvonne Chaka Chaka will give a reading in isiZulu of Neo and the Big Wide World – a story written specifically for the day and available in all 11 official languages.

A mini library and reading clubs are also planned at the Orlando Pirates Learning Centre at Orlando Stadium.

“We are right at the beginning of this project,” Orlando Pirates Learning Centre manager Jude Capel says, “but we will have regular visits from first team players to read to students and explain the importance of reading to them.”

Keep an eye on Books LIVE for more details on the Orlando Pirates Reading Stars.

Images courtesy of Orlando Pirates’s Facebook Page

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Michael Morris reviews Rugby at Newlands by David McLennan and Chris Schoeman

Rugby at NewlandsVerdict: carrot

A SELECT triumphant, or bloodied, few know the Newlands grounds as intimates of the arena itself, as the field of dreams or of despair.

And the effect, it’s obvious, has always been impressive.

“When you score a try…” Springbok Gio Aplon says, “it’s almost like an earthquake. It’s almost like you are in a room with surround sound.”

This Aplon quote at the beginning of Rugby at Newlands – A History in 50 Test Matches: 1891-2015, is paired with another from a different time.

Book Details

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Rugby 365 reviews Rugby at Newlands by David McLennan and Chris Schoeman

Rugby at NewlandsVerdict: carrot

It looks so beautiful, this wonderful history of a great rugby ground, one of the very greatest in the history of great grounds, older than Twickenham, Murrayfield and Eden Park and still where it was for its very first Test in 1891. The cover is so beautiful.

Book Details

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The Perfect Gift for the Ardent Sports Fan: 15 Books about Sport from 2015

Ali Bacher and David Williams

2015 was a great year for books written about sport and the myriad players both on the field and behind the scenes.

This was also the year of the Rugby World Cup, which inspired a host of books on the legendary players, captains and teams that have represented South Africa on the world stage.

From cricket to cycling, from surfing to golf, you will not run out of ideas on what to buy your sports-loving family this Christmas.

Here are 15 books about sport from 2015:

* * * * * * * *


1. Defining Moments At The Crease

Defining Moments At The CreaseWho will ever forget Mark Boucher punching the sky after scoring the winning runs in the “438” game against Australia? Or when Makhaya Ntini took five wickets at Lords and knelt down to kiss the hallowed turf?

Defining Moments At the Crease commemorates the extraordinary journey travelled by the Proteas since readmission to world cricket in 1991 and is filled with the finest photographs that capture the triumphs and tragedies on the cricket field.


2. The Springbok Captains

The Springbok CaptainsThe Springbok rugby captain, over more than a century, has represented many things to many South Africans. He has united, and he has divided. He has thrilled, he has disappointed. He has inspired, he has disheartened. He has triumphed, he has failed. But he has always had an impact.

In this revealing narrative, Edward Griffiths and Stephen Nell depict the men who have been able to call themselves “Springbok Captain” through their backgrounds, triumphs and disappointments. Relive the heyday of rugby legends Bennie Osler, Danie Craven, Hennie Muller, Johan Claassen, Naas Botha, Francois Pienaar, Gary Teichmann, Joost van der Westhuizen, Andre Vos and others.

Now fully updated with the accounts of Bobby Skinstad, Victor Matfield and Jean de Villiers, The Springbok Captains is the epic story that lies at the heart of South African rugby.

3. Springbok Rugby Quiz

Springbok Rugby QuizWhich Springbok match saw the least number of spectators ever attending a test match?

Who was the unofficial arm-wrestling champion in the Springbok side on the 1981 tour to New Zealand?

Which Springbok lock played with a glass eye?

Welcome to the ultimate rugby quiz book for real rugby fans! Springbok Rugby Quiz examines the lore of rugby in an unusually entertaining way: it comprises 1001 questions and answers. Rugby lovers can now enjoy some of the most outlandish anecdotes, as well as cold, hard facts and statistics, about this game we all love.

4. I Ran For My Life

I Ran For My LifeKabelo Mabalane, number one self-proclaimed “pantsula for life”, shares his journey and insights, from being a multi-platinum-selling musician, through the highs and lows of drug addiction, to finding hope and life again through running (eight Comrades Marathons and counting) and his faith.

In I Ran for My Life, this 10-time SAMA award-winner, TV presenter, athlete and entrepreneur talks about growing up between Soweto and the suburbs, the back story behind his phenomenal music career, and how getting into running literally saved his life. Along with his lessons for life, Kabelo shares his thoughts and advice on staying in shape, being prepared for anything and how to build a spirit of endurance in everything you do.

5. The South African Bike Book

The South African Bike BookIf you love cycling and want to learn more about this sport, then The South African Bike Book & Events Guide is for you.

Cycling is a complex sport and if you want to improve your abilities, whether it is just to make it to the top of your nearest hill without stopping, or whether to win a champion race, cycling takes dedication and sacrifice.

In this book we give you everything you need to equip yourself to become the best cyclist you can be.

6. 50 Years of South African Rugby

50Years_SARugby_SocMSpringbok rugby over the past 50 years has been part of a continuing story of South Africa, moving from apartheid to democracy. Its story has been told on the front as well as the back pages of the Sunday Times, by many fine sportswriters, whose five decades of reporting form the basis of this book.

50 Years of South African Rugby is a free, downloadable e-book and contains all of the major stories from the Springbok frontline, where green-and-gold heroes often overcame huge odds – as they did in 1965, and again in 1995 – to triumph over old enemies.

7. Errol Tobias: Pure Gold

Errol Tobias: Pure GoldWhen Errol Tobias was selected for the Springbok rugby team there was an immediate uproar. He became our first black Springbok in 1980 – in the middle of South Africa’s isolation from international sport and growing protest action against the government.

In Errol Tobias: Pure Gold he talks openly about his sporting career: from childhood to the great moments in the green and gold. Here are the joys, the losses, and the controversy.

8. South Africa’s Greatest Batsmen

South Africa's Greatest BatsmenSouth Africa has produced some of the best batsmen in the world, with AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla dominating the recent ICC rankings. Previous teams and generations have included their own legends. But who are the greatest of them all?

Following the success of their book Jacques Kallis and 12 Other Great South African All-Rounders, Ali Bacher and David Williams now turn their attention to South Africa’s top batsmen.

9. Deliberate Concealment

Deliberate ConcealmentMtutuzeli Nyoka grew up loving and playing the game of cricket. In 2008, he was appointed as the president of Cricket South Africa (CSA), a position he held until October 2011 when, after a protracted battle with the CSA board, he was dismissed. However, he continued to call for a commission of inquiry into irregularities in CSA. And when retired Judge Chris Nicholson conducted an investigation into CSA, his findings on the corruption and maladministration in the game were damning, particularly in terms of Gerald Majola.

In Deliberate Concealment, Nyoka shares his behind-the-scenes experiences and personal journey as events unfolded, including his own mistakes, the repercussions of the scandal on the game of cricket in South Africa, and his fight for the truth to prevail.

10. South Africa’s Rugby Legends

South Africa's Rugby LegendsSouth Africa’s Rugby Legends celebrates those players who have become truly immortal in the eyes of their fans – the greatest South African rugby players of the amateur years.

This beautifully illustrated book covers the immense achievements of those players who ran out against the mighty All Blacks, the cunning Aussies and the fiery Welsh, among others, and played their way into rugby folklore. These are the best of the best, the players who make you say, “Those were the days!”

11. Stoked!

Stoked!Stoked! is an inspiring true story about courage, determination and the power of dreams. Chris Bertish was a skinny little kid from Cape Town when he started surfing with his brothers. Fiercely driven and constantly pushing his boundaries, Chris was not content with conquering “ordinary” big waves. He wanted more: bigger waves, bigger swells, more adrenaline. What began as a personal quest to prove to himself that he was one of the best in the “big-wave brotherhood” culminated a decade later with Chris being crowned South Africa’s first Mavericks BigWave Champion. Competitors in the 2010 event were faced with the biggest and heaviest waves ever recorded in the history of the sport and Chris, on his own budget, on the back of a 40-hour plane journey and on borrowed equipment, outsmarted and outperformed the world’s best-paid professional surfers.

12. Empire, War & Cricket in South Africa

Empire, War & Cricket in South AfricaCecil John Rhodes once said he had only met two creators in South Africa: himself and James Douglas Logan, the Scottish-born founder of Matjiesfontein. Empire, War & Cricket in South Africa explores in detail how Matjiesfontein was created and how Logan developed this little Karoo town into a renowned health resort, attracting the rich and famous – including the likes of South African novelist Olive Schreiner and England cricketer George Lohmann.

But above all, this is the untold story of how James Logan was instrumental in developing the game of cricket in South Africa at a time when the country was heading towards war with the British Empire.

13. The Greatest Springbok Teams

The Greatest Springbok TeamsWe live and breathe rugby. This book celebrates the Springbok teams that really knew how to pump the air into our rugby lungs – the greatest South African rugby teams ever.

Inside these pages are profiles and statistics of the players and teams who smashed the All Blacks and Australia in their own backyards in 1937, the conquerors of Europe in 1951/52, those who faced the hungry British Lions in 1924, 1980 and 2009, the Boks who lifted the World Cup in 1995 and 2007, plus many other great sides.

14. Tri the Beloved Country

Tri the Beloved CountryWhat makes a working mother and average athlete decide to take on a massive physical and mental challenge to run, cycle and kayak the perimeter of South Africa, covering 6 772 km in less than five months? Kim van Kets was inspired by her desire to demonstrate to her daughter the fact that mothers are heroes too. Married to adventurer, Peter van Kets (two times Atlantic Rower and only African to have rowed solo across any ocean and one of the few South Africans to have trekked to the South Pole, detailed in his book The Eight Summit), she was able to justify the “time-out” after having built up a credit balance of 150 days owed to her by her husband.

15. Papwa: In the Grip of a Champion

PapwaSewsunker “Papwa” Sewgolum (1930–1978) was a South African golfer who carved a niche for himself in golfing folklore when he became the first golfer of colour to win a provincial open in South Africa (in 1963). Sewgolum, a former caddie, with his wrong-way-round grip (left hand beneath his right), beat 103 white golfers in the Natal Open at the Durban Country Club. He became a symbol of the sports boycott movement when pictures of him receiving his trophy outdoors in the rain, because, due to apartheid, he was not allowed to enter the clubhouse, were published across the world.

Papwa is the story of one man who triumphed again unbelievable odds, only to have his dream snatched from him. Written as fiction, this is a uniquely South African story told by a master storyteller.


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Sarie-lesers resenseer rugbyboeke, onder meer Wynie – My bloed is blou en Errol Tobias: Suiwer goud

Wynie - My bloed is blouSpringbok Rugby VasvraErrol Tobias: Suiwer goudCoach Loffie – Wenke vir wenners
The Greatest Springbok TeamsRugby Changed My WorldThe Springbok Captains

Uitspraak: wortels

Die boek was verrassend en verfrissend en ek is dankbaar dat Tobias so eerlik was in hoe hy sy verhaal oor sy rugbyloopbaan vertel. Toe hy in 1980 ingesluit is as losskakel in die Springbokspan het dié besluit nogal omstredenheid veroorsaak. Dit ten spyte daarvan dat hy beslis een van die beste spelers in die wêreld was. Hy het nie altyd die erkenning gekry wat hom toekom nie, nie van ondersteuners of selfs van afrigters en ander spelers nie.


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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

From Jenny & Co:


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

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

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

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


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