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Win some books for Books LIVE's birthday!


This past Saturday was World Book Day, which also happens to be Books LIVE’s birthday!

23 April was chosen by Unesco to be World Book Day as it is a symbolic day for books: on this date in 1616, Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died, while it is also the date of birth or death of other prominent authors.

Books LIVE is turning nine this year, if you can believe it, and to celebrate we’re giving away a hamper of books.

To enter, simply quote a line of Shakespeare at us on Facebook or Twitter pages, or in the comments below (sign up here).

We’ll announce the winner on Thursday morning (28 April, 2015).

Have a look at our birthday posts over the years, back to when Ben Williams launched the site as BOOK SA:


Coming soon: The Woman Next Door, the new novel from Yewande Omotoso

Coming soon: The Woman Next Door, the new novel from Yewande Omotoso

The Woman Next DoorPenguin Random House is delighted to present The Woman Next Door, the new novel from award-winning novelist Yewande Omotoso:

Hortensia James and Marion Agostino are neighbours. One is black, one white. Both are successful women with impressive careers. Both have recently been widowed. And both are sworn enemies, sharing hedge and hostility which they prune with a zeal that belies the fact that they are both over 80.

But one day an unforeseen event forces the women together. And gradually the bickering and sniping softens into lively debate, and from there into memories shared. But could these sparks of connection ever transform into friendship? Or is it too late to expect these two to change?

About the author

Yewande Omotoso was born in Barbados and grew up in Nigeria, moving to South Africa with her family in 1992. She is the author of Bom Boy, published in South Africa in 2011. In 2012 she won the South African Literary Award for First-Time Published Author and was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize. In 2013, she was a finalist in the inaugural, pan-African Etisalat Fiction Prize. She lives in Johannesburg, where she writes and has her own architectural practice.

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Author image: Yewande Omotoso on Facebook

Celebrate Brenda Fassie 12 years after her death with Bongani Madondo at the first Newtown Junction Literary Evening

I'm Not Your Weekend Special: Portraits on the Life + Style and Politics of Brenda FassieNewtown Junction and Picador Africa invite you to a book reading and discussion of I’m Not Your Weekend Special: Portraits on the Life + Style and Politics of Brenda Fassie by Bongani Madondo.

Join them in honouring the great MaBrrr and marking 12 years since her death.

Madondo will be reading from his book and interviewing contributors and other friends of MaBrrr. Come and hear stories from those who knew and loved her and share a glass of wine and great music at the first of our Newtown Junction Literary Evenings.

Like Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong and Miriam Makeba, Brenda’s music will always be in our lives. We will smile when we think of her. South Africa will never be the same without her.

- From the Foreword by Hugh Masekela

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 05 May 2016
  • Time: 6:30 PM for 6:30 PM
  • Venue: Newtown Junction Mall
    Miriam Makeba and President Streets
    Johannesburg | Map
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine

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Wits University Press author Maxim Bolt wins British Sociological Association Ethnography Award

Zimbabwe's Migrants and South Africa's Border FarmsCongratulations to Wits University Press author Maxim Bolt, winner of the 2016 BBC Thinking Allowed/British Sociological Association Ethnography Award for his book Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms: The Roots of Impermanence.

Thinking Allowed in association with the British Sociological Association offers the annual award for a study that has made a significant contribution to ethnography: the in-depth analysis of the everyday life of a culture or sub-culture.

Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms, explores uncertainty in a post-apartheid South Africa. During the Zimbabwean crisis, millions crossed through the apartheid-era border fence, searching for work as farm labourers. Bolt explores the lives of Zimbabwean migrant labourers, of settled black farm workers and their dependents, and of white farmers and managers, as they intersect on the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa. A close ethnographic study, it addresses the complex, shifting labour and life conditions in northern South Africa’s agricultural borderlands. Underlying these challenges are the Zimbabwean political and economic crisis of the 2000s and the intensified pressures on commercial agriculture in South Africa following market liberalization and post-apartheid land reform.

Jonny Steinberg, author of A Man of Good Hope, said about Bolt’s book: “In precise, limpid prose, Maxim Bolt brings to life the human ecology of a border farm. Ever alert to the counterintuitive, he shows how stability is fashioned in the midst of the unstable, and how work organises life in a time of mass unemployment. The monograph sheds light on new and important social processes. It is a significant achievement.”

Bolt is a Lecturer in Anthropology and African Studies at the University of Birmingham and a Research Associate at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER), University of the Witwatersrand. His doctoral thesis, on whose research this monograph draws, was awarded runner-up in the biennial Audrey Richards Prize by the African Studies Association of the UK.

Listen to an interview with Bolt talking to Laurie Taylor on the BBC (The interview starts at 10:36 minutes in):

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See an excerpt from Jabu Goes to Joburg, a fotonovela from the latest Chronic - with Isabel Hofmeyr as an evil villain

Read an excerpt from Jabu Goes to Joburg, the fotonovela featured in the latest edition of Chronic

This Fiction Friday, feast your eyes on Jabu Goes to Joburg, a fotonovela by Achal Prabhala that features as a pull-out supplement that rubs with the latest edition of Chimurenga’s Chronic.

The April edition of the Chronic explores “the tensions between reform and revolution, and decolonisation and the neoliberal order in the academy, through the lens of history and via the alternate education paradigms based in indigenous knowledge systems, and also arising from South Africa’s radical anti-apartheid struggle”.

Contributors include Rustum Kozain, Masande Ntshanga, Lidudumalingani Mqombothi, Florence Madenga, Ed Pavlic, Jon Soske, Meghna Singh, Abdourahman Waberi, Nick Mulgrew, Lindokuhle Nkosi, Wendell Marsh, Nick Mwaluko, and many more.

To buy a copy in print or as a PDF head to the Chronic‘s online shop or find your nearest stockist.

Of Jabu Goes to Joburg, Prabhala says: “I’m particularly excited to see this in print for several reasons, not least of which is that the form itself has been dead for two decades – even though every South African over the age of 30 will recognise what we are doing.

“There are some surprising people in the fotonovela, including Isabel Hofmeyr – an intellectual I deeply admire, and the deeply respectable author of too many books to name – taking on the thoroughly disrespectable role of a fur-clad golden-gloved crime boss. Which is something I hope you’ll enjoy!”

Read an excerpt from Jabu Goes to Joburg, the fotonovela featured in the latest edition of Chronic


Jabu Goes to Joburg was produced by Pam Dlungwana, and the full cast list is: Euridice Kala, Tiyiselani Kubayi, Phindile Cindi, Suraj Yengde, Meghan Judge, Nicky Falkof, Pule, Francis Burger, Nana Zajiji, Dorothee Kreutzfeldt, Gilles Baro, Achal Prabhala, Dean Hutton, Skhumbuzo Mbixane, Sibusiso “The General” Nxumalo and Isabel Hofmeyr.

In an interview with the Chronic, Prabhala explains the project:

I haven’t actually seen “Jim comes to Joburg”. I’ve heard of it, of course, but I don’t think I’ll be watching it any time soon. I find it massively annoying that every urban story in South Africa is some version of “XYZ comes to Joburg” – and essentially the same story: good-hearted wide-eyed rural man/woman comes to the city of gold to seek his/her fortune and gets screwed. Alan Paton wrote “Cry, the Beloved Country” in 1948 and that little snowflake he kicked down the mountain kept rolling, and rolling, and became an avalanche. So much so that 70 years later, the big feature films set in the city – I’m thinking of Tsotsi and Jerusalema – are about little more than how the whole place is some kind of torrid hallucination. It’s as if there’s a rule; a mandatory clause that requires all creative people to plumb the stygian depths of Joburg in any narrative of the place, from which no one is exempt – not even, for instance, the young, black, male writer of a promising blog-turned-book called the “Diary of a Zulu girl” in which said Zulu girl makes the long journey to Joburg only to immediately descend into prostitution.

He also has time for some praise for pulp fiction:

One of the casualties of a high-minded literary culture everywhere – from South Africa to India and to the United States – is the devaluation and gradual disappearance of pulp fiction. Literary culture can degrade popular culture all it likes, but the lurid stories being sold on the streets of Lagos, São Paulo, Hong Kong or Bangalore – where I live – have the stamp of democracy. Mostly terrible, sometimes passable, and very rarely wonderful, the book on the street is, however, always a sign of a population in control. And as much as I regret the loss of the steamy paperback in middle-class literary life, I am reminded of how the sentiment still exists when I read the tabloids, or internet fan fiction, or see popular social media memes. Google Mugabe’s misstep on the tarmac, or Zuma’s weekend-special Finance Ministry appointment, and then read our fotonovela: you’ll see the same thing going on – ordinary people crudely photoshopping their reality on earth into the preferred universe of their imagination. Pulp fiction has only disappeared from print, not from our lives.

Chimurenga has shared an excerpt from Jabu Goes to Joburg with Books LIVE. Have a look:

Excerpt Jabu Goes to Joburg, the fotonovela featured in the latest edition of Chimurenga's Cronic by Books LIVE

Sarah Nuttall reviews The Shouting in the Dark: Elleke Boehmer's most exciting bio-fictional work since her debut

The Shouting in the DarkBy Sarah Nuttall

This book is for me Elleke Boehmer’s most exciting bio-fictional work since her debut novel Screens Against the Sky (1990). If that first book drew its energy from the depiction of an obsessional mother-daughter relationship, this one burns with an intense and destructive father-daughter relationship. Ben Okri calls it “a secret duel to the death between a father and daughter” and it plays out in a vividly historical sense. Boehmer’s narrator, who the reader has much difficulty not thinking of as herself (much like the narrator John in JM Coetzee’s Boyhood) becomes undone by her – in many ways – terrible father. What drives this story is Ella’s hatred of him, her desire to kill him, her wish for his death, her longing to be an orphan altogether.

Boehmer writes her way into the eruptions and emissions of intense emotion in this book, set in Durban in the 1970s, in ways she hasn’t before. That is, she inhabits her character’s affective life to a degree unreached in previous writing. Ella’s disgust at her father, and her derision for what she sees, as a girl, as her mother’s weakness, animates the prose. Her father spews and spills, every night on the verandah, his vitriol, his right wing politics, the pain of his shattering wartime experiences in the Dutch navy during World War II, his grief for the woman he in fact loved, her mother’s dead sister. Boehmer needed to find a prose form that could enter a highly charged and unrestrained emotional space, and she has done it brilliantly, in a highly crafted way.

If Coetzee’s Boyhood is, as with his other fictional and biofictional works, written with deep, if very restrained, emotion, brilliant verbal economies and narrative taughtness, Boehmer’s The Shouting in the Dark taps into a more expressive turn, which mirrors and mines the affective charge of a South African cultural and public life now avowedly post-TRC and shaped by new orders of private and public feeling, force and anger.

These are extracts from a longer piece that Sarah Nuttall is writing about Boehmers The Shouting in the Dark.

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