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Exclusive Books releases its 2018 Pan-African Writing Catalogue

To mark Africa Month, Exclusive Books has released the 2018 edition of its highly-acclaimed Pan-African Writing Catalogue – the only bookseller’s catalogue of its kind, worldwide.

The number of titles featured has increased, from 250 in the inaugural 2017 edition to almost 400 this year, and the bookseller has committed to keeping all titles permanently in stock, as far as possible.

The 62-page glossy catalogue is available for free to all customers, who may pick up copies at any Exclusive Books store.

As with the first edition of the catalogue, readers will find a wealth of writers in its pages – poets, polemicists, novelists, biographers and historians – whose collective voice from Africa, the UK, US, Caribbean and other parts of the diaspora makes plain the power of Black literature in our world.

“Our 2018 catalogue builds on the success of last year’s debut list of books, which drew an extraordinarily positive response from our customers,” said Ben Williams, GM: Marketing for Exclusive Books.

In developing the catalogue, Exclusive Books worked alongside publishers to bring certain titles back into print and has invested heavily in stockholding to ensure the titles are readily available for purchase in-store or online via the Exclusive Books website.

“While no catalogue can be comprehensive, and every curation is necessarily imperfect, we feel that this new list represents a significant step forward. We strive to improve and increase our selection each year,” Williams said.

Look out for the Exclusive Books 2018 Pan-African Writing Catalogue, in stores now. All books featured in the catalogue earn Fanatics members double points throughout May.

For more information, please contact the Exclusive Books Marketing Manager, Leigh Jackman, at

View the titles in the 2018 Exclusive Books Pan African Writing Catalogue here:

Call for Joburg creatives to make free children’s books

“I wanted to create a love story that was real, true to life, flawed and challenging.” Amanda Prowse on writing Anna: One Love, Two Stories

Published in the Sunday Times

Anna: One Love Two Stories
Amanda Prowse, Head of Zeus, R255

I loved writing the book Anna, I found her a likable, relatable character and it felt like a joy to spend each day with her. I had decided to base some of her struggles and hardships on my own childhood and I think one thing that surprised me was how much I was affected by this.

Anna got under my skin, stayed with me and I found myself concerned for her. People who have read Anna have said she stays with them too and that they feel great warmth and affection for her, so I suppose though it was emotionally challenging, it helped add depth to her character on the page.

One thing I love most about this book is how much Anna’s life feels true and though some moments are quite harrowing, these are quickly followed by others which will make you laugh out loud and, for me, this is life – I think if you can learn to laugh through the bad times it somehow gives you strength to keep going. Anna’s is a love story and when she falls in love with Theo, she finds fulfilment.

We know all the things that Anna has lived through [having spent most of her life in a care home, wanting love] and we know what has shaped her. But, just as in real life, we do not know what things have shaped the person fall in love with and this is certainly the case with Theo.

We will them to work as a couple, cheering them on from the rooftops and praying that the two young people, despite being from such different backgrounds, can find a way to overcome all their demons and make this relationship work.

I wanted to create a love story that was real, true to life, flawed and challenging but also with the fairy-tale elements that make a romance like Anna’s so magical. I hope I have achieved this. Anna is without doubt one of the characters who will forever live in my heart and mind.

When writing the book, I based the character of Theo’s mother on a friend of my mother’s and I cannot tell you how funny it was when she made a particular point of mentioning to me how much she disliked the character! I guess it’s true what they say; we really don’t know how others see us. This is certainly the case with Anna, who sees herself as an ordinary girl but I think you will agree after having read the books that she is really quite extraordinary.


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When she was a teenager, the Afrikaans poet Sheila Cussons tried her hand at an English fairytale – and the results are breathtaking

Trevor in the Land of FantasySheila Cussons gave her son, Jaume Saladrigas Cussons, a gift – a manuscript she had kept to herself for decades. Her son fulfilled her wish and in due course Imbali Academic published his mother’s imaginative and inspiring story.

“As adults we often lose sight of the fantasy world that exists in our imaginations,” says Ute Spath, Director of Sales and Marketing at Imbali Academic Publishers. “We are privileged to make this creative piece available. Cussons seamlessly incorporated old-world charm into a whimsical dreamland, and the result is Trevor in the Land of Fantasy.”

During an interview Cussons confirmed: “When I was about 14 I wrote an English story for my little brother, who was two at the time. I named it Trevor in the Land of Fantasy and I also illustrated it. I recall writing it in a hammock between two trees in our garden”.

Offering the perfect escape, the book will appeal to children and adults alike, and was re-lived by Cussons on many occasions as she read it to her brother, and then to her sons later in life.

Having moved to Spain she enjoyed sharing this secret story with her family. In later life Cussons moved back to South Africa and lived, for the last part of her life, at Nazareth House in Cape Town.

“While most of Cussons’ work was published between the 1970s and 1990s, this rare youth work held a very special place in her heart. Set in her home country, South Africa, the book instantly transports readers to a fantasy world. The imaginary piece will serve an important purpose in her memory, as all sales proceeds will be donated to Nazareth House,” concludes Spath.

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Book Bites: 13 May

Published in the Sunday Times

The Force
Don Winslow, Harper Collins, R205

What makes a good cop good at his job? Courage? Intelligence? Bravery, empathy, toughness? Detective Sergeant Denny Malone and his elite team, dealing with drugs, guns and gangs in New York, have all those qualities. What characterises a bad cop? Theft, dishonesty, accepting bribes, violence? Collusion? Murder? He and his team are guilty of all those as well. The Force describes in riveting detail how these contradictions are possible, even inevitable. Malone came from a police family, and joined as a young idealist, determined to do good. In the face of injustice and systematic corruption, he started crossing the line, one step at a time. Eventually caught, Malone is prepared to admit his own crimes, but the Feds want him to betray his friends, his contacts and his mentors. Set against a background of imminent racial conflagration and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, it is simply excellent. Aubrey Paton

Night Moves
Jonathan Kellerman, Headline, R300

Psychologist Alex Delaware is called by his old LAPD pal, Milo Sturgis, to a home in upscale Pacific Palisades. Inside the house is a corpse with no hands, no face and no blood. And a family who are certain they don’t know the victim who appeared in their den while they were out. Night Moves is Kellerman’s 33rd Delaware thriller and, as ever, he delivers sharp prose, intelligent plots and sleazy characters. A solid, enjoyable thriller, the novel’s real strength lies in the relationship and banter between Delaware and Sturgis. That’s really what his fans are after, and Kellerman delivers with class. Russell Clarke @russrussy

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“The aim of VW is to ensure that every 10-year-old child in Uitenhage will be able to read with comprehension and write.” A Q&A with Vernon Naidoo, manager of the Volkswagen Community Trust

Published in the Sunday World, Daily Dispatch, Herald

By Carla Lever

Vernon Naidoo, manager: The Volkswagen Community Trust.

What role do you think corporates can play in making meaningful change in South Africa?

Most corporates are trusted because of the brands they represent. They have power in the form of leverage and resources. Government will never be able to fully turn the SA ship around – there’s a shortage of resources and skills, not the mention a lot of red tape! Meaningful change can be achieved, though – we just need Government, media, NGOs and Corporates to work together.

VW has chosen education as one of its target areas for giving back. Why is it something you feel so strongly about at VW?

The aim of VW is to ensure that every 10-year-old child in Uitenhage will be able to read with comprehension and write. In fact, we’ve been in the education space for more than 30 years – we believe it’s one of the key ingredients to true freedom.

In comparison with Africa and the world, South Africa ranks low on the literacy (reading with comprehension) scale. Volkswagen, together with the Department of Education and other stakeholders, want to part of the solution to change this statistic.

You partner with literacy NGO Nal’ibali on an exciting project in Uitenhage. What does it involve?

Volkswagen funds story supplements in newspapers across the country. In the Nelson Mandela Bay area, Nal’ibali has been tasked to set up Reading Clubs in schools and communities. Since books are so expensive, the reading supplement is utilised in the schools. Grade 2 and 3 learners are paired together – we call this the Book Buddy system. Each child is given a container (ice cream 2 litre works well) with 30 stories in it. These stories are cut out from the supplement. We call this the “mobile library” because the children take it home and can read a story wherever they are.

These two images were taken at the opening of the second literacy centre, opened by VWSA, Mngcunube Literacy Centre, on 26 February in KwaNobuhle.


That’s great, because if there is one ‘magic bullet’ solution to the education challenges South Africa is facing, studies seem to suggest it is books. Yet very few books are available in the mother tongue languages spoken by most people in this country. Why do you feel reading is an important part of education?

I feel that reading with comprehension is the key to education. This enables the young person to grasp concepts and skills. It will also assist them to think critically and to develop their reasoning skills. If you can’t read, this automatically excludes you from many things but especially from participating in the economy.

VW also seeks to encourage a volunteer culture in its staff as a way of giving back at a personal level. Have there been any particularly interesting staff campaigns with education?

Absolutely! As part of our Employee Volunteerism, we recruited staff to read to learners from five schools. We bused in the learners to the VW People’s Pavilion Hall. The other campaign that we ran was for every staff member to donate a book. These were donated to schools. Through this, VW has placed reading corners in all the schools that we work in. Our follow-up studies showed that those learners with reading corners in the class fared significantly better than those without, so we feel this is making a real difference.

What’s your challenge to other South African businesses, large or small?

As VWSA, we cannot do this alone. We have an annual literacy conference in Uitenhage – it would be a great idea if someone from another organisation can attend and share insights. We can all work on this together. We can change that low SA statistic! Let’s partner, because in this space there is no competition!

From Sunday April 15, Nal’ibali will be publishing its supplements in two new languages. An English-Setswana edition will be published in the Sunday World in the North West, and an English-Xitsonga edition will be donated to reading clubs in Limpopo. Clubs in both provinces will collect their copies from select post offices. The post offices (10 in each province) will also have 50 additional editions each to give away to member of the public.

The Sunday Times Literary Awards shortlist announced

After months of extensive reading, careful evaluation and fierce deliberation it is finally time to reveal the shortlists for South Africa’s most prestigious book awards, the Alan Paton Award for non-fiction and the Barry Ronge Fiction Prize, in association with Porcupine Ridge. The winners, who will each receive R100 000, will be announced on Saturday June 23.

Alan Paton Award

Chair of judges Sylvia Vollenhoven comments: “When nations sink into division and despair creativity points to a way forward. The collective power and style of the five authors (three of them women) on this year’s shortlist represent the finest artistic vision for the future. Literary flair is coupled with excellent research that takes us into places we need to visit. Exploring recent history a remarkable opus dissects Zimbabwe like no other, the man who founded the ANC is honoured in all his complexity and we get to know exactly why we owe the former Public Protector such a huge debt of gratitude. Balancing the political with the personal, two achingly beautiful memoirs give us deep insight into the family terrain where all our horrors and delights originate.”

Kingdom, Power, Glory – Mugabe, Zanu and the Quest for Supremacy, 1960-1987, Stuart Doran (Sithatha Media/Bookstorm)

The judges voted quickly and unanimously to shortlist this massive book. It is an exhaustive, meticulously detailed history of Zimbabwe’s formative years that draws on previously classified information and throws new light on such events as the Gukurahundi massacres. One judge called it: “Monumentally researched, monumentally annotated and evidenced, and monumentally impressive.”

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

The biography of the former public prosecutor reminds us of the enormous impact she made during her seven years of tenure. Gqubule reveals details of Madonsela’s life, as well as her investigations, findings and their consequences, in what one judge described as “an energetic, passionate whirl of words.”
Always Another Country: A Memoir of Exile and Home, Sisonke Msimang (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

The judges regarded Msimang’s memoir to be one of the best entries in terms of style. It charts her way from childhood through multiple identities and roles, beginning with her early years in exile in Zambia and Kenya, young adulthood and college years in North America, and returning to South Africa in the 1990s.
The Man Who Founded the ANC: A Biography of Pixley ka Isaka Seme, Bongani Ngqulunga (Penguin Books)

The panel hailed this biography as an important part of Afrocentric history, an even-handed and scholarly study of a complex man and the conflicting and fluctuating strains of Pan Africanism and Zulu chauvinism. Seme was just 30 when he founded the organisation, but he eventually brought it to its knees.
Colour Me Yellow: Searching For My Family Truth, Thuli Nhlapo (Kwela Books)

Shunned by her paternal family while growing up, journalist Thuli Nhlapo embarked on a painful journey to find her “true” identity. The judges were moved by its brutal honesty, finding in her story the roots of so much of the nation’s dysfunction, “a smaller story illuminating a greater picture.”
Barry Ronge Prize

Judging chair Africa Melane says: “The authors on this list help us search for truth, which is often unsettling and uncomfortable. There are stories of love and loss, of lives not yet lived and those long forgotten. Our history narrates heartbreak and pain, and we learn how to carry our past in our souls. The pulsating veins of our cities are laid bare through deeply personal accounts and there is a fearlessness in addressing controversial issues. The works are thought- provoking, unflinching and disturbing at times, but very compelling. Every read has been immensely rewarding.”

Softness of the Lime, Maxine Case (Umuzi)

Set in the Cape of Good Hope in 1782, and drawing on Case’s own family history, the story traces the relationship between a wealthy Dutch settler and his young slave. The judges admired the fluent writing and vivid sense of place.

A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg, Harry Kalmer (Penguin Books)

Kalmer probes the lives of a handful of disparate characters including the exiled, those returning from exile, and those who never left, casting back a hundred years and bringing the narrative right up to date. This richly faceted portrait of Jozi was applauded for its originality and finely observed writing.

The Third Reel, SJ Naudé (Umuzi)

Described as “intense, intelligent and accomplished”, Naudé’s unsettling novel is set in London and Berlin in the 80s and centres on a young man, Etienne, who has fled conscription in South Africa. It is an intense love story as well as a quiet exploration of film, architecture, music and art.

Bird-Monk Seding, Lesego Rampolokeng (Deep South Publishers)

Rampolokeng’s third novel is a stark portrait of a Groot Marico township two decades into South Africa’s democracy. Innovative and violently sensory, one judge noted that he “brandishes his scatting be-bop voice like a fearsome weapon” as he renders the resilience of people marked by apartheid.

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

Based on the true story of a young woman who was raped and left for dead in a concentration camp during the Anglo-Boer War. She manages to recover and dedicates her life to healing trauma, but in the process comes face-to-face with her attacker. “An inspiring character and a deeply skilful, atmospheric story,” noted the panellists.

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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

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The Yearning


Feminism Is

The President's Keepers

Who Will Rule in 2019?

SA illustrator wins international literary award

Via Golden Baobab: Accra, Ghana (9 May 2018)

Toby Newsome, a renowned Cape Town based artist has won the internationally coveted Children’s Africana Book Award (CABA) for his illustrations in the children’s book, Grandma’s List. The book was written by Ghanaian author, Portia Dery, who who jointly won the CABA with Toby Newsome.

Toby Newsome, the acclaimed illustrator of Grandma’s List.

The Children’s Africana Book Award is an annual prize presented to authors and illustrators of the best children’s and young adult books on Africa published or republished in the U.S.A. The awards were created by Africa Access and the Outreach Council of the African Studies Association (ASA) and its sponsors includes the African Studies departments of universities Harvard, Howard and Yale among others. Past winning illustrators of CABA include South Africa’s Niki Daly.

One of Newsome’s stunning illustrations.

Grandma’s List is a brilliant and colorful story about an 8-year old girl, Fatima, who wants to save the day by helping her grandmother complete her list of errands. The problem is, Fatima loses the list and she has to recall from memory what was written on it. The rest of story then takes the reader on a funny and heartwarming adventure with Fatima and her family.

Grandma’s List, published by African Bureau Stories, won the 2018 CABA Young Children’s category along with two other books from international publishers, Candlewick Press and Farrar, Straus and Giroux. This is the second international children’s book award that Grandma’s List has won. It previously won the prestigious Golden Baobab Prize for The Best Picture Book manuscript in Africa in 2014.

The new children’s publishing house, African Bureau Stories, has made an impressive move in publishing a truly Pan-African book like Grandma’s List, which is a powerful literary partnership between Ghana and South Africa. The publishing house’s aim is to produce world class and contemporary African stories for children. In addition to Grandma’s List, African Bureau Stories has produced three other children’s books which according to the publisher, Deborah Ahenkorah, are “super cool books that will delight children all over the world.”

Anastasia Shown, a CABA Reviewer from the University of Pennsylvania says:

Grandma’s List is an excellent read aloud book for school or storytime. The illustrations show a neighborhood in Ghana that is very typical of many African towns with shops, gardens, small livestock, and many people outside working and playing…One of the best features of the book is the characters of many ages. There are kids playing, vendors selling, teens on their phones, grownups working, and elders relaxing. They wear African prints and western styled clothes…The book can generate lots of great open ended questions.”


With illustrations like these it’s no wonder Newsome was the recipient of this coveted award!

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Q&A with the South African school representatives for the Global Kids’ Literature Quiz

Nal’ibali Column 12, Term 2: Published in the Sunday World, Daily Dispatch, Herald

By Carla Lever

From left to right – Jaskaran Rajaruthnam, Sam Walker, Jemma Kasavan, and Michaela Crankshaw.

Michaela Crankshaw, Jemma Kasavan, Jaskaran Rajaruthnam and Sam Walker are all grade seven students at Manor Gardens Primary – a small public in Durban. In July, they will represent South Africa in the World Finals of the Kids Literature Championships in Auckland, New Zealand. We interview them and their inspirational teacher, Isobel Sobey.

Congratulations to all of you on making the world finals of the Kids’ Lit Quiz – this must be hugely exciting! How stiff was the competition in the South African national finals?

Team: We were up against the best teams in the country, so it was difficult. It’s always stressful because we never know what to expect in terms of questions.

How long have you been practicing literature quizzes with Mrs Sobey?

Team: We have weekly morning book club before school and we sometimes do quizzes after to discuss our books. It’s mostly just about reading a lot of books and remembering what you read, who wrote it and when it was written – the quizmaster can ask absolutely anything!

Your school has an incredible track record when it comes to making the national and international finals of this competition. It seems that Mrs Sobey is your secret weapon! What’s your winning approach, Isobel?

Isobel: We are lucky to be in a school where reading is a priority from Grade 1 and students have been exposed to as many as 400 books in their first year of school. I’m just lucky to work with them once the Foundation Phase teachers have worked their magic. I guess I am saying that I’m not the magic; it’s Manor Gardens Primary School that is a magical place!

Isobel, you’ve said that children at Manor Gardens working toward getting a place on the team as early as grade one. How have you managed to develop such an incredibly powerful culture of reading at your school?

Isobel: Reading forms the basis of much of our teaching, is brought into lessons all the time and we give children and teachers half an hour a day to read solo for fun. With all that reading going on, most children make an effort to find books they enjoy.

It sounds like it’s a big deal to get on the Book Quiz team! What do the rest of the school think about the quiz and how do they support you?

Team: They are very proud and extremely supportive of our fundraising initiatives. They’re behind us all the way!

The international quizmaster says he can draw on any book published – two thousand years’ worth of literature is a lot to cover! How do you prepare?

Team: Read, read, read … we’re lucky that we don’t all like the same types of books, so we can divide what we need to cover. We’re allowed to read anything we want but Mrs Sobey looks for new books that might be part of the quiz.

What kinds of added benefits do you find reading gives you all?

Team: We can actually go to different exotic places in books themselves! We also learn a lot of general knowledge and vocabulary and it’s a relaxing way to escape the world.

Only four students get to take part in the competition, but how do you keep encouraging everybody in the school to get excited about reading?

Isobel: I do lots of book talks, I introduce new books, we watch movies based on children’s books. We have our own school inter-house Children’s Book Quiz – this way more children have a chance to answer questions about books and we all get to watch the quiz.

Who do you think your biggest competition is this year?

Team: New Zealand and the UK.
Isobel: I say Singapore.

I know you mentioned some programmes that Manor Gardens is running to partner with other schools to spread the reading bug. Can you tell us a little about that?

Isobel: The Phendulani Quiz was started by Marj Brown, the National co-ordinator of Kids’ Lit Quiz in South Africa. Schools sponsor other under-resourced schools who receive a set of books which they have a set amount of time to read before we all get together to hold our own quiz. Every year the Phendulani Quiz grows a little bit and a few more children get to enjoy bonding over shared books.

Not everybody gets the chance to fly to New Zealand, but why is it important that every child in South Africa has the opportunity to read books in their language?

Team: Reading develops your mind and your world. We wish everyone could find a lifetime friendship with books, like we have!

From Sunday April 15, Nal’ibali will be publishing its supplements in two new languages. An English-Setswana edition will be published in the Sunday World in the North West, and an English-Xitsonga edition will be donated to reading clubs in Limpopo. Clubs in both provinces will collect their copies from select post offices. The post offices (10 in each province) will also have 50 additional editions each to give away to member of the public.