Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

Launch: Vusi - Business & Life Lessons From a Black Dragon by Vusi Thembekwayo (22 August)

Maverick. Leadership genius. Self-made millionaire. Dragon. The rock star of public speaking. Vusi Thembekwayo has been called many things.

Join him in his inspiring journey from the township to the top echelons of South African business, to becoming one of the youngest directors of a listed company and CEO of a boutique investment firm. As a Dragons’ Den judge and a sought- after public speaker across the globe, Vusi doesn’t just talk business – he lives it.

Now you can learn the secret of his success and how to shape your own destiny.

Event Details

"I was surprised by how emotionally exhilarating looking at the past can be," writes Vusi Thembekwayo of his biography-cum-business manual

Published in the Sunday Times

Vusi Thembekwayo, author of Vusi – Business & Life Lessons From a Black Dragon.
Pic: supplied.

 
There are few endeavours as daunting as writing a book; the idea that you are penning your thoughts, experiences and views for the world to critique and consume.

When the publisher first approached me to do a book on “the life and lessons of Vusi” project, I resisted the idea.

In fact, I rejected it outright, partly because of the idea that my life is just my collective set of experiences but also because I look at my life as a story in the making.

It is “being” every day. Writing about “the life of” seemed very final. But I love the idea that I get to share thoughts that stretch my perspective to colour the lenses of others.

I was inspired by the opportunity to inspire others. There can be no greater gift than the opportunity to inspire others into seeing themselves differently.

I was surprised by how emotionally exhilarating looking at the past can be. Remembering who you once were, parts of yourself that you’d forgotten, lost or minimised in the quest to grow into the person you are today.

As a group, entrepreneurs are notoriously bad at writing long books. We live in a world of instant action, ideation, collaboration and creation. Sprints, not long-winded marathons.

Every day we test, try, fail, and learn only to do it all over again, just a little smarter. Sitting down for an extended period to write or think through your thoughts is not only daunting, it is frankly foreign to our natural disposition.

Conquering this was a test of fortitude and discipline.

The book took two years and almost 100 three-hour sessions with my co-conspirator, Gus Silber, to complete. Every session we had the same set of emotions; deep introspection and reflection, anger at the state of affairs, and sometimes (admittedly seldom) an excited burst of excitement when I came upon a realisation.

I keep several pitbulls and leaving Gus on my outside patio unattended to refill our juice glasses was amusing. He would sit perfectly poised and still until I came back.

Eventually we decided that meeting at my clubhouse was a better bet. Indeed it was. From there we could enjoy the sights of the mountains pointed at Rustenburg. A wondrous and relaxing sight. Perfectly inspiring.

Book details

RIP V.S. Naipaul (17 August 1932 - 11 August 2018)

Via Times Select

By Andrew Donaldson

There has been a flood of tributes and career appraisals following the death at the weekend of VS Naipaul, arguably the greatest and most infuriating figure in post-colonial literature. For more than five decades he gave his readers often searing and withering portraits of societies in the developing world.

That honesty earned him severe criticism – and not just for his particular point of view on the colonialism and post-colonialism so unequivocally detailed in his novels and travel writing. He was just as brutal when it came to his own failings as a man, so much so that his violent behaviour threatened to overwhelm his literary reputation.

He spared his biographer, Patrick French, nothing – so much so that the latter’s The World Is What It Is: The Authorised Biography of VS Naipaul (Vintage, 2009) is a gobsmacking page-turner.

Naipaul was fairly open about the humiliation he caused his first wife, Patricia Hale, and the 20-year affair he conducted with Margaret Gooding, a women he regularly assaulted. When the affair began, his editor Diana Athill rebuked him for his behaviour. He told her: “I am having carnal pleasure for the first time in my life, are you saying I must give it up?”

Pleasure meant degrading Gooding in bed. As Naipaul told French: “I was very violent with her for two days with my hand; my hand began to hurt … She didn’t mind it at all. She thought of it in terms of my passion for her. Her face was bad. She couldn’t appear really in public. My hand was swollen. I was utterly helpless. I have enormous sympathy for people who do strange things out of passion.”

What to read, though, of the 29 books that Naipaul produced? His first collection of short stories, Miguel Street (1959), details the lives of ordinary Trinidadians in a run-down corner of Port of Spain. The novels A House for Mr Biswas (1961), The Mimic Men (1967) and A Bend in the River (1978) are pretty much essential. Of his non-fiction work I recommend The Loss of El Dorado (1969), his India travelogues, An Area of Darkness (1964), India: A Wounded Civilisation (1977) and India: A Million Mutinies Now (1990), Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey (1981) and Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples (1998).

He was particularly scathing about South Africans in The Masque of Africa: Glimpses of African Belief (2010). An uncomfortable experience, you could say.

The World is What it Is

Book details
The World is What it Is: The Authorized Biography of VS Naipaul by Patrick French
EAN: 9780330455985
Find this book with BOOK Finder!
 
 
 

Miguel Street

Miguel Street by VS Naipaul
EAN: 9780435989545
Find this book with BOOK Finder!
 
 
 
 

A House for Mr Biswas

A House for Mr Biswas by VS Naipaul
EAN: 9780330522892
Find this book with BOOK Finder!
 
 
 
 
 
The Mimic Men

The Mimic Men by VS Naipaul
EAN: 9780330522922
Find this book with BOOK Finder!
 
 
 
 
 
 
A Bend in the River

A Bend in the River by VS Naipaul
EAN: 9780330522991
Find this book with BOOK Finder!
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Loss of El Dorado

The Loss of El Dorado by VS Naipaul
EAN: 9780330522847
Find this book with BOOK Finder!
 
 
 
 
 
 
An Area of Darkness

An Area of Darkness: His Discovery of India by VS Naipaul
EAN: 9780330522830
Find this book with BOOK Finder!
 
 
 
 
 
 
India: A Wounded Civilization

India: A Wounded Civilization by VS Naipaul
EAN: 9780330522717
Find this book with BOOK Finder!
 
 
 
 
 
 
India: A Million Mutinies Now

India: A Million Mutinies Now by VS Naipaul
EAN: 9780330519861
Find this book with BOOK Finder!
 
 
 
 
 
 
Among the Believers

Among the Believers by VS Naipaul
EAN: 9780330522823
Find this book with BOOK Finder!

 
 
 

Beyond Belief

Beyond Belief by VS Naipaul
EAN: 9780330517874
Find this book with BOOK Finder!
 
 
 
 

The Masque of Africa

The Masque of Africa by VS Naipaul
EAN: 9780330472043
Find this book with BOOK Finder!

Launch: Things We Don't Talk About. Ever. by Desiree-Anne Martin (7 August)

In 1980s apartheid Cape Town, five-year-old Desiree-Anne is grappling with how she’s going to turn her tar baby doll’s skin into sweet, soft lily-white.

What she has learnt is that Whites are better than ‘Slamse’ and much better than ‘Kaffirs’.

She doesn’t know how to force her father to stop drinking or gambling or make her mother love her or get the boys and men to stop touching her in secret.

She learns how to soothe the pain: through secret masturbation and lying. She also gives her life and heart to Jesus every summer at Scripture Union camps.

As she grows up, she begins to understand the rules of living in her depressed family as well as in her fractured community: We Don’t Talk About It. Ever. In her teens, laden with the awkwardness of bushy, unruly hair, braces, and a body shorter and rounder than a Womble – and now firmly planted in a ‘White School’, Desiree-Anne is forced to confront her ‘Coloured identity crisis’.

She turns to self-harm, disordered eating, the thrill of petty theft and escapism through books and acting. Although she wins a place to study drama at UCT, sensing her parents cannot afford the tuition, she opts to go to the UK where she gets lost in bars, clubs and pills.

On her return to South Africa she embraces the “free love” Ecstasy trance club scene but when she meets Darren, a heroin addict, she turns to needles. Her search for love and acceptance descends into a self-destructive spiral as an intravenous smack addict.

This is a harrowing memoir on the darkness of addiction, but it is also a touching and sometimes humorous account of a little-girl-turned-woman’s deep need and reckless pursuit for love.

When Desiree-Anne finally finds recovery years later, she uncovers her real voice to talk and write about things that were previously left unspoken.
 

Event Details

"It’s an extraordinary story" - Margaret von Klemperer reviews Becoming Iman

Published in The Witness: 30 July 2018

For readers who only know Iman Rappetti as a warm, skilled and urbane presenter on television and radio, this memoir will come as something of a surprise.

We may think we know someone through their daily arrival into our space via the media, but in fact, we really know nothing about them other than that they are the one we like, or dislike.

Rappetti grew up in Phoenix, living with her Indian father and her Coloured mother, a combination that caused deep family rifts. She loved both her parents, though her father was violent and abusive to his wife until he became part of an Evangelical Christian church and apparently changed his ways.

And then there were her siblings.

Her eldest brother had been forcibly removed from her mother straight after his birth to live with his Indian grandmother, and there were another older brother and sister who suddenly arrived back to live with the family without explanation.

It was a complex, very South African childhood, taking place in the apartheid days where discovering your own identity was always going to be compromised and complicated.

But Rappetti tells her tale with humour, bringing to life aunties and their “School of Suffering” (SOS) which they raised to an art form. The writing is beautiful, with unexpected and memorable turns of phrase, while the telling of the story is episodic, linear in emotion rather than in time.

Once beyond the coming-of-age memoir stage, Rappetti’s life takes unexpected turns. From the evangelical Christianity of her upbringing, she converts to Islam, moves with her husband to Iran and becomes a veiled, submissive Muslim wife and mother as the reader begins to realise that whatever Rappetti does, she does wholeheartedly.

It’s an extraordinary story, and the frankness with which she relates her growing later disillusion with both her marriage and her faith is powerful and compelling. Now, she sees the Muslim veil as a symbol of oppression, but her journey into faith and on to rebellion is fascinating to follow, as are the swings in her story between the sacred and the profane.

Book details

Book discussion: Always Another Country by Sisonke Msimang (7 August)

The Governing Intimacies Project and WiSER invite you to a book discussion of Sisonke Msimang’s Always Another Country – a remarkable tale of belonging, identity and coming of age in the postcolony. Insightful and beautifully written, the memoir sets a new benchmark in the genre.

Event Details