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Prince Albert Leesfees: 3 - 5 November

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tickets can be bought online at www.princealbertleesfees.org and at the Prince Albert Library, Church Street, Prince Albert. Tel: 023 5411 014. For information and enquiries: princealbertleesfees@mweb.co.za and WhatsApp: 073 213 3797.

Agents of the State

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The Yearning

 
 
 
 

Killing Karoline

 
 
 
 

Rule of Law

 
 
 
 

Ware Mense

 
 
 
 

Uittogboek

 
 
 
 

God praat Afrikaans

 
 
 

Wintersrust

 

Die reis gaan inwaarts

 
 

Jump on the Bant Wagon

Book Bites: 1 October 2017

Published in the Sunday Times

King Kong  King Kong: Our Knot of Time and Music
Pat Williams, Portobello Books
****
Award-winning author Pat Williams documents the jazz opera King Kong. The musical is centred on heavyweight ’50s boxing champion Ezekiel Dlamini. Hailed as the unbeatable champ of those days, Dlamini was said to be dangerous, as William writes: “He would fight someone in the ring and then invite them to come outside and fight again on the street.” Fame turned to infamy when he was sentenced to 12 years in prison for killing his girlfriend. He later committed suicide, drowning himself in the prison dam. According to Williams it was thanks to King Kong that jazz legends like Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela found fame, and it was where Caiphus Semenya and Letta Mbulu met and fell in love. Williams also describes the impact the opera had on her and on the show’s original cast. – Khanyi Ndabeni

The MayflyThe Mayfly
James Hazel, Bonnier Zaffre
***
A paint-by-numbers thriller that starts off with too much exposition but relaxes into a character-driven narrative. Protagonist Charlie Priest is large, handsome and clever, with more than the required number of flaws. Once a detective inspector, Priest left the police to start a legal firm for a handful of high-end corporate clients in London. As a result he is loathed by most of his former colleagues, one of whom happens to be his ex-wife. He suffers from bouts of dissociative disorder during which he cannot communicate, although it’s hard to see how his appalling social skills could get any worse. And then there’s his brother, a convicted serial killer with whom Priest plays Holmes-and-Watson observation games during visits to the psychiatric prison ward. Sue de Groot @deGrootS1

A Jihad for LoveA Jihad For Love
Mohamed El Bachiri with David Van Reybrouck, Head of Zeus
****
“Life no longer tastes the same to me, but the setting sun is still glorious,” writes Bachiri after his wife, Loubna Lafquiri, was murdered on 22 March 2016 in a terrorist bombing in Brussels. Bachiri’s raw grief seeps through the pages of this tiny book that is part poetry, part memoir, and part tribute. This varied collection comes together as an overall plea to the world to cease reacting with hate and to fight for love. Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

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Jacket Notes: Sara-Jayne King talks about the difficulty of writing her book Killing Karoline

Published in the Sunday Times

Killing KarolineKilling Karoline
Sara-Jayne King, MFBooks/Joburg

I was about three-quarters of the way through writing Killing Karoline when the message arrived on Facebook. “Are you trying to destroy us?” That was all it said. It was from my biological mother’s sister. A woman I had never met, and never wanted to; one of “them”. That’s often what adoption does. It turns family into complete strangers. “Them” is my biological family – a team of which I am not a member, on whose side I will never be. “Them” is the woman – who, after having delivered me, her hybrid progeny, in Sandton in 1980 – sequestered me away to England to be adopted. She returned to South Africa, and told people I had died. That awful lie formed the final part of her plan to keep secret her forbidden relationship with my biological father.

While it had always been my intention to write down my story, for many years I was crippled by a fear that to allow myself a voice, to speak my truth and reveal myself as the dreadful secret would be to hammer the final nail in my own coffin.

So the page remained blank and I pretended I did not need to write. I convinced myself that I should not write. It was not so much writer’s block as adoptee’s misplaced guilt. Many of us suffer from it.

When the time did eventually come and the book began demanding more fervently to be born, the idea that I owed these strangers – “them” – my silence, became all the more nonsensical. I refused to tell the story in a way that protected them from their own shame. That did not mean I did not think about them, it just meant I refused to write with them in mind.

“Write as if they are dead,” my publisher told me, and I did.

My maternal aunt’s message was, oddly, both predictable and surprising. Somewhere along the grapevine had obviously come word that the book was on its way. Something that would expose the lie and the liars. But unlike the baby that had arrived some 37 years before, this was not something that would be kept secret. I knew the book would be the voice of my most authentic self, because at the end of it all, no one can tell our stories better than we can ourselves…

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The Wretched of the Earth available as Kwela Pocket Revolutionaries-series

What was the point of fighting if nothing was really destined to change?

In this international classic, Frantz Fanon examines the traumatic effects of colonisation on the colonised. He explains the consequences of a decolonising struggle on individuals and on the nation as a whole as he explores class, race, violence, culture – and freedom. His thought has become freshly topical in South Africa in recent years. A major influence on human rights and liberation struggles around the world, The Wretched of the Earth is particularly current and compelling for South Africans today.

‘The book is the most influential force that moved the #Fallist generation to take action. It is a must-read for all of us in South Africa today.’ – Chumani Maxwele

Frantz Fanon was an Algerian psychologist and one of the most influential theorists of revolutionary struggle, colonialism, and racial difference in history. For decades Fanon’s work has been informed for the fight of decolonisation and international liberation struggles.

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Sisonke Msimang's memoir out in October!

In her much anticipated memoir, Sisonke Msimang writes about her exile childhood in Zambia and Kenya, young adulthood and college years in North America, and returning to South Africa in the euphoric 1990s.

She reflects candidly on her discontent and disappointment with present-day South Africa but also on her experiences of family, romance, and motherhood, with the novelist’s talent for character and pathos.

Militant young comrades dance off the pages of the 1970s Lusaka she invokes, and the heady and naive days of just-democratic South Africa in the 1990s are as vividly painted. Her memoir is at heart a chronicle of a coming-ofage, and while well-known South African political figures appear in these pages, it is an intimate story, a testament to family bonds and sisterhood.

Sisonke Msimang is one of the most assured and celebrated voices commenting on the South African present – often humorously; sometimes deeply movingly – and this book launches her to an even broader audience.

Sisonke Msimang currently lives in Perth, Australia, where she is Programme Director for the Centre for Stories. She is regularly in South Africa where she continues to speak and comment on current affairs. Sisonke has degrees from Macalester College, Minnesota and the University of Cape Town, is a Yale World Fellow, an Aspen New Voices Fellow, and was a Ruth First Fellow at the University of the Witwatersrand. She regularly contributes to The Guardian, The Daily Maverick and The New York Times and has given a very popular TED Talk which touches on events which appear in Always Another Country.

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Also available as an eBook.

Years after being known only as "Yellow", Thuli Nhlapo confronts her mother about her real father and real surname...

‘I hated being pregnant with you. I used to cry the whole day. I hated carrying you in my stomach.’

 
Thuli Nhlapo grew up constantly hearing these words from her mother. She was seven years old when she realised that no one called her by name. Known as “Yellow”, she was bullied at home and at school. Fearing that she had a terrible disease, she withdrew into herself.

Years later, Thuli is still haunted by her childhood experiences. She confronts her mother about her real father and real surname. Getting no answers, Thuli embarks on years of searching for the truth.

In the process, she uncovers unsettling family secrets that irrevocably change all their lives.

“Whilst exposing and exploding the impact of family secrets on people’s sense of identity and well-being, it is also a celebration of one woman’s determination to live her life to the fullest.” - Mmatshilo Motsei

Thuli Nhlapo is the Managing Director of her own media company, Thuli Nhlapo Media. She has previously worked for ABC News (USA), Daily Sun and SABC News as reporter and/or producer. She has also written for The Sowetan, Mail & Guardian and The Star. Nhlapo works as a communication strategist and content producer and is based in Gauteng.

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