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Launch of Five Lives at Noon by Brent Meersman, in conversation with Nicholas Ashby

Wednesday, July 31st 2013 at 5:45 PM

5 lives

Five Lives at Noon follows a generation of young South Africans turning 30 during the turbulent years from the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990 to the day of the first democratic election in 1994.

A young white man and a young black woman return from exile in London; a human rights lawyer searches for a missing comrade and his own redemption; and an ex-South African Defence Force soldier descends into the carnage of the civil war in KwaZulu-Natal. Their lives will be set on an inevitable, but unexpected, collision course.

Five Lives at Noon ventures into the very heart of the civil war and to KwaZulu Natal, the crucible in which the new South Africa was forged. As South Africa marks 20 years since the advent of democracy, these five lives uncover the price paid for that political settlement.


Launch of Accented Futures by Carli Coetzee, in conversation with Justice Albie Sachs and Prof Harry Garuba

Tuesday, July 30th 2013 at 5:30 PM

Accents invite

In this wonderfully original, intensely personal yet deeply analytical work, Carli Coetzee argues that difference and disagreement can be forms of activism to bring about social change, inside and outside the teaching environment.

Since it is not the student alone who needs to be transformed, she proposes a model of teaching that is insistent on the teacher’s scholarship as a tool for hearing the many voices and accents in the South African classroom. For Coetzee, ‘accentedness’ is a description for actively working towards the ending of apartheid by being aware of the legacies of the past, without attempting to empty out or gloss over the conflicts and violence that may exist under the surface. In the broad context of education, ‘accent’ can be an accent of speech; an attitude; a stance against being ‘understood’; yet a way of teaching that requires teacher and pupil to understand each other’s contexts.

This is a book about the relationships created by the use of language to convey knowledge, particularly in translation. The ideas it presents are evocative, thought-provoking and challenging at times.

Accented Futures makes a significant and important contribution to research on identity in post-apartheid South Africa as well as to the fields of education and translation studies.


July 2013

Tuesday, July 30th 2013 at 1:07 PM


Panorama by Pieter-Dirk Uys

In 1987, Sibi Makhale is allowed to visit her dying father in the maximum security prison of Robben Island.

The daughter of banned parents, Sibi comes face to face with two suspicious and frightened white school teachers resident on the island. It will prove to be a life-changing experience for all of them. Over two decades later, Sibi returns to the island – now a World Heritage Site – with her two free-born sons. It is an attempt at closure for her, an adventure for her boys and, for the reader, a remarkable journey back to the dark past. Panorama celebrates the people, who through their shared passion of a beloved country, managed to communicate and even laugh with each other in spite of fear, guilt and prejudice.

This story about South Africa’s yesterday and today is inspired by Pieter-dirk Uys’ internationally acclaimed play, Panorama.

The Collini Case by Ferdinand von Schirach

A murder. A murderer. No motive.

For thirty-four years Fabrizio Collini has worked diligently for Mercedes Benz. He is a quiet and respectable person until the day he visits one of Berlin’s most luxurious hotels and kills an innocent man.

Young attorney Caspar Leinen takes the case. Getting Collini a not-guilty verdict would make his name. But too late he discovers that Collini’s victim – an industrialist of some renown – is known to him.

Now Leinen is caught in a professional and personal dilemma. Collini admits the murder but won’t say why he did it, forcing Leinen to defend a man who won’t put up a defence. And worse, a close friend and relation of the victim insists that he give up the case. His reputation, his career and this friendship are all at risk.

Then he makes a discovery that goes way beyond his own petty concerns and exposes a terrible and deadly truth at the heart of German justice…

The Collini Case is a masterful court room drama that will have readers on the edge of their seats from start to finish.

Ferdinand von Schirach’s The Collini Case has been at the top of the German charts since publication and will be loved by all fans of Bernhard Schlink and John le Carré.

A magnificent storyteller.”                         Der Spiegel

A murder trial full of political explosiveness: thrilling, clever, staggering.”             Focus

Transatlantic by Colum McCann

1919. Emily Ehrlich watches as two young airmen, Alcock and Brown, emerge from the carnage of the First World War to pilot the very first non-stop transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to the west of Ireland. Among the letters being carried on the aircraft is one which will not be opened for almost a hundred years.

1998. Senator George Mitchell criss-crosses the ocean in search of an elusive Irish peace. How many more bereaved mothers and grandmothers must he meet before an agreement can be reached?

1845. Frederick Douglass, a black American slave, lands in Ireland to champion ideas of democracy and freedom, only to find a famine unfurling at his feet. On his travels he inspires a young maid to go to New York to embrace a free world, but the land does not always fulfill its promises for her. From the violent battlefields of the Civil War to the ice lakes of northern Missouri, it is her youngest daughter Emily who eventually finds her way back to Ireland.

Can we pass from the new world to the old? How does the past shape the future? Intricately crafted, poetic and deeply affecting TransAtlantic weaves together personal stories to explore the fine line between what is real and what is imagined, and the tangled skein of connections that make up our lives.

This novel is beautifully hypnotic in its movements, from the grand (between two continents, across three centuries) to the most subtle. Silkily threading together public events and private feelings, TransAtlantic says no to death with every line. Those who can’t see the point of historical novels will find their answer here: in all intelligent fiction, the past has not passed.”              Emma Donoghue

Few contemporary writers are better at subtracting the sublime from the base … A kind of cat’s cradle of transatlantic journeys, all connected, all built on another thing.”          Guardian

“A marvellously engrossing journey, studded with ideas and lyrical treats.”          The Times

“It is, simply, perfect. McCann’s writing is sublime; his images shine.”      Irish Examiner

A Man Without Breath by Philip Kerr

Berlin, March, 1943. A month has passed since the stunning defeat at Stalingrad. Though Hitler insists Germany is winning the war, commanders on the ground know better. Morale is low, discipline at risk. Now word has reached Berlin of a Red massacre of Polish officers in the Katyn Forest near Smolensk. If true, the message it would send to the troops is clear: Fight on or risk certain death. For once, both the Wehrmacht and Propaganda Minister Goebbels want the same thing: irrefutable evidence of this Russian atrocity. To the Wehrmacht, such proof will soften the reality of its own war crimes in the eyes of the victors. For Goebbels, such proof could turn the tide of war by destroying the Alliance, cutting Russia off from its western supply lines.

Both parties agree that the ensuing investigation must be overseen by a professional trained in sifting evidence and interrogating witnesses. Anything that smells of incompetence or tampering will defeat their purposes. And so Bernie Gunther is dispatched to Smolensk, where truth is as much a victim of war as those poor dead Polish officers.

Smolensk, March, 1943. Army Group Center is an enclave of Prussian aristocrats who have owned the Wehrmacht almost as long as they’ve owned their baronial estates, an officer class whose families have been intermarrying for generations. The wisecracking, rough-edged Gunther is not a good fit. He is, after all, a Berlin bull. But he has a far bigger concern than sharp elbows and supercilious stares, for somewhere in this mix is a cunning and savage killer who has left a trail of bloody victims.

This is no psycho case. This is a man with motive enough to kill and skills enough to leave no trace of himself. Bad luck that in this war zone, such skills are two-a-penny. Somehow Bernie must put a face to this killer before he puts an end to Bernie.

The good detective trying to do his best within a corrupt regime… few writers have tackled the theme with the rigour of Philip Kerr”                          Independent

 One of these days World War II will come to an end, and then how will we manage without Bernie Gunther, the cynical Berlin cop who has somehow contrived to stay alive and retain some vestige of personal integrity in Philip Kerr’s harrowing historical thrillers?”                         The New York Times Book Review

 Captivating…Kerr makes everything look easy, from blending history with a clever and intricate whodunit plot to powerful descriptions of cruelty.”                                Publishers Weekly

The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook

The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook is a superbly controlled emotional thriller of passion, betrayal and conscience, set in post-War Germany.

Hamburg, 1946. Thousands remain displaced in what is now the British Occupied Zone. Charged with overseeing the rebuilding of this devastated city and the de-Nazification of its defeated people, Colonel Lewis Morgan has requisitioned a fine house on the banks of the Elbe, where he will be joined by his grieving wife Rachael and only remaining son Edmund.

But rather than force its owners, a German widower and his traumatised daughter, to leave their home, Lewis insists that the two families live together. In this charged and claustrophobic atmosphere all must confront their true selves as enmity and grief give way to passion and betrayal.

The Aftermath is a stunning novel about our fiercest loyalties, our deepest desires and the transforming power of forgiveness.

Masterly…the story develops with many a deft twist…Brook wrings every drop of feeling out of a gripping human situation, and his vignettes of war-ravaged Hamburg are superb.”          Mail on Sunday, Novel of the Week

Rhidian Brook takes a piece of history I thought I knew well and breaks it open. The Aftermath is a compelling, surprising and moving novel.”                        Sadie Jones, author of The Outcast

A moving, always enthralling journey…Rhidian Brook has written a brilliant novel.”       Joseph O’Neill, author of Netherland

Arresting, unsettling and compelling; suffused with suffering and hope...” Claire Messud, author of The Emperor’s Children

Southern Cross the Dog by Bill Cheng

When the Great Flood of 1927 devastates Mississippi, eight-year-old Robert Chatham loses everything. Robert’s adventures in the brooding swamplands – from hard labour to imprisonment to thwarted love – are full of courage, danger and heartbreak. This is story of how a small, hurt boy becomes a tough young man: forced to choose between the lure of the future and the claims of his past. Set against one of the great American landscapes, Southern Cross the Dog is a mesmerising and savagely beautiful novel. It marks the arrival of Bill Cheng as a writer of astonishing gifts.

An incredibly daring and powerful debut. Not only does Bill Cheng set the language on fire in Southern Cross the Dog, but he creates a whole new territory of story-telling. One of the great literary enterprises is the ability to understand ‘otherness,’ and Cheng proves masterful in his ability to dwell in another era and place, while still remaining rooted in the landscape of the human heart. Cheng, almost literally, writes out of his skin.”               Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin

Southern Cross the Dog has all the markers of a novel written in the finest Southern gothic tradition.”                  New York Times

Cheng’s prose evokes the eerie, textured music of Cormac McCarthy…unforgettable.”                  Wall Street Journal

Dark Road by Ma Jian

Meili, a young peasant woman born in the remote heart of China, is married to Kongzi, a village school teacher, and a distant descendant of Confucius. They have a daughter, but desperate for a son to carry on his illustrious family line, Kongzi gets Meili pregnant again without waiting for official permission. When family planning officers storm the village to arrest violators of the population control policy, mother, father and daughter escape to the Yangtze River and begin a fugitive life.

For years they drift south through the poisoned waterways and ruined landscapes of China, picking up work as they go along, scavenging for necessities and flying from police detection. As Meili’s body continues to be invaded by her husband and assaulted by the state, she fights to regain control of her fate and that of her unborn child.

“[Ma Jian’s] characterisation is superb. A devastating critique of China’s oppressive communist regime.”               Mail on Sunday

Ma’s work is a vital corrective and he writes here with insistent, focused anger.”              Metro

All of Ma’s skill and playfulness are on display as the novel builds to a climax.”                                 Tash Aw, Guardian

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout

Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a legal aid attorney who idolises Jim, has always taken it in his stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan – the sibling who stayed behind – urgently calls them home. Her lonely teenage son, Zach, has landed himself into a world of trouble, and Susan desperately needs their help. And so the Burgess brothers return to the landscape of their childhood, where the long-buried tensions that have shaped and shadowed their relationship begin to surface in unexpected ways that will change them forever.

Elizabeth Strout, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for her 2008 novel Olive Kitteridge, has an extraordinary talent for homing in on the dropped stitch in the family fabric, and family is what The Burgess Boys is really about… a family’s idea of itself, and the essential frailty of the things it holds up as certainties… The beauty of this novel lies in the sense of the past being littered with unexploded bombs.”                            Literary Review

As a portrait of a family struggling to balance the accumulated tensions and resentments of a half century with the pull of kinship that never quite overrides them, [The Burgess Boys] feels so truthful it will sometimes make you gasp. As a portrait of a community struggling to come to terms with the consequences of globalisation, decline, and immigration from cultures that don’t want to assimilate, it feels fiercely urgent. This is as much a state-of-the-nation novel as one of small-town life. Elizabeth Strout writes with a lyric simplicity that thrusts you into the heart of each character’s life and world…[her] empathy … radiates out to every corner of her world. She shines a light but she doesn’t judge. [Strout] has written a novel that makes you feel: this is what it’s like to be alive.”                       Sunday Times

Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell

The Ratcliffe Highway murders of 1811 were the most notorious mass killings in their day. Never fully explained, they brought London and all of England to the verge of panic.

Forty-three years later, the equally notorious ‘opium eater’ Thomas De Quincey returns to London. Along with his Confessions, he is known for a scandalous essay about the killings: ‘On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts’.

Days after his arrival, a family is killed in the same horrific way as the earlier murders. It seems someone is using the essay as an inspiration – and a blueprint. And De Quincey himself is the obvious suspect. Aided by his daughter Emily and two determined Scotland Yard detectives, he must uncover the truth before more blood is shed…and London itself falls prey to attack.

In Murder as a Fine Art, gaslit London becomes a battleground between a literary star and a demented murderer – whose lives are linked by secrets long buried, but never forgotten.

A terrific read. As one would expect of Morrell, it is compulsive and thrilling, but its use of de Quincey also allows for discursions that are both funny and touching – de Quincey and his daughter are great additions to the detective stage, and I hope we will have a lot more of them to come.”                              Judith Flanders, Author Of the Invention Of Murder

A master of suspense…If you’re reading Morrell, you’re sitting on the edge of your seat.”           Michael Connelly

Appetite by Philip Kazan

In Florence, everyone has a passion. With sixty thousand souls inside the city, crammed into a cobweb of clattering streets, countless alleys, towers, workshops, tanneries, cloisters, churches and burial grounds, they live their lives in the narrow world between the walls. Nino Latini knows that if you want to survive without losing yourself completely, then you’ve got to have a passion.

But Nino’s greatest gift will be his greatest curse. Nino can taste things that other people cannot. Every flavour, every ingredient comes alive for him as vividly as a painting and he puts his artistry to increasingly extravagant use.

In an age of gluttony and conspicuous consumption, his unique talent leads him into danger. His desire for the beautiful Tessina Delmazza and his longing to create the perfect feast could prove deadly. Nino must flee Florence to save his life and if he ever wants to see his beloved again, he must entrust himself entirely to the tender mercies of fortune.

Sketcher by Roland Wilson Grant

Nine-year-old “Skid” Beaumont’s family is stuck in the mud. Following his father’s decision to relocate and build a new home, based on a drunken vision that New Orleans would rapidly expand eastwards into the wetlands as a result of the Seventies’ oil boom, Skid and his brothers grow up in a swampy area of Louisiana. But the constructions stop short, the dream fizzles out, and the Beaumonts find themselves sinking in a soggy corner of 1980s Cold War America. As things on the home front get more complicated, Skid learns of his mother’s alleged magic powers and vaguely remembers some eerie stories surrounding his elder brother Frico. These, as well as early events that Skid saw with his own eyes, convince him that Frico has a gift to fix things by simply sketching them. For the next few years, Skid’s self-appointed mission to convince his brother to join him in his lofty plan to change their family’s luck and the world they live in will lead to even more mystery and high drama in the swamp.

New writing and local talent

Bloody Satisfied: A Short Story Anthology edited by Joanne Hichens, with an introduction by Deon Meyer

The Short Sharp Stories Awards anthology, Bloody Satisfied, includes twenty-four top stories, and is introduced with a rollicking foreword by Deon Meyer. It is a collection of thrilling twist-in-the-tale stories that make good on the Bloody Satisfied promise: slick and sexy stories that brim with danger and elements of the sinister; sophisticated stories that focus on the subtler crimes of everyday life; smart stories that invert expectations and linger in the mind.

The Short Sharp Stories Awards is a platform for both established and emerging writers in South Africa. The book includes stories from Roger Smith, Yewande Omotso, Peter Church, Greg Lazarus, Nechama Brodie, Chris Nicholson, Osiame Molefe, Luke Fiske, Megan Furniss, Sandile Memela, Dawn Garisch, Peter Merrington, Siphiwo Mahala, Anthony Ehlers, Jill Morsbach, Liam Kruger, Amy Heydenrych, Beth Hunt, Anirood Singh, Andrew Salomon, Mncedise Thambe, Jo Stielau, Colin Ward and Melissa Siebert, with an afterword by Michael Stanley.

Something Wicked Volume 2

 Inkless Media & eKhaya present the Something Wicked Anthology of Speculative Fiction, Volume Two.
Volume Two marks the official transition of Something Wicked from magazine to annual anthology, featuring 25 brand new stories by writers from South Africa and abroad; seasoned veterans and first-timers brought together in a single book containing tales of post-apocalyptic dystopias, alternate realities, far-future science fiction and good old-fashioned blood-chilling horror, edited and compiled by the doting godparents of South African genre fiction, Joe Vaz and Vianne Venter. Let your mind wander across distant galaxies, down darkened alleys, and across oceans of floating cities and let Something Wicked be your guide. The awesome cover art has been illustrated by celebrated South African artist, Vincent Sammy, a Something Wicked stalwart.
Let the journey begin. “Joe and Vianne are talent-spotters … par excellence.” – Lauren Beukes

The Common Volume 4

Finding the extraordinary in the common has long been the mission of literature. Inspired by this mission and the role of the town common, a public gathering place for the display and exchange of ideas, The Common seeks to recapture an old idea. The Common publishes fiction, essays, poetry, documentary vignettes, and images that embody particular times and places both real and imagined; from deserts to teeming ports; from Winnipeg to Beijing; from Earth to the Moon: literature and art powerful enough to reach from there to here. In short, it addresses our search for a modern sense of place.

Jungle Jim 21

Jungle Jim is a brilliant bimonthly, African pulp fiction magazine. They feature genre-based writing from all over Africa. It’s small but perfectly formed and all the best people are reading it!

INSIDE: A Nigerian schoolgirl dreams of her own death! Shenanigans on a road-trip to Portugese East! The tragic & gripping downfall of…an ant! And Keletso’s clawed killer strikes again!

Something Visual

The Resurrectionist: The Lost Work and Writings of Dr Spencer Black by E.B. Hudspeth

Philadelphia. The late 1870s. A city of cobblestone sidewalks and horse-drawn carriages. Home to the famous anatomist and surgeon Dr. Spencer Black. The son of a “resurrectionist” (aka grave robber), Dr. Black studied at Philadelphia’s esteemed Academy of Medicine, where he develops an unconventional hypothesis: What if the world’s most celebrated mythological beasts – mermaids, minotaurs, and satyrs – were in fact the evolutionary ancestors of humankind? The Resurrectionist offers two extraordinary books in one. The first is a fictional biography of Dr. Spencer Black, from his humble beginnings to the mysterious disappearance at the end of his life. The second book is Black’s magnum opus: ‘The Codex Extinct Animalia’, a Gray’s Anatomy’ for mythological beasts – dragons, centaurs, Pegasus, Cerberus – all rendered in meticulously detailed black-and-white anatomical illustrations. You need only look at these images to realize they are the work of a madman. The Resurrectionist tells his story.

These detailed and fantastical drawings will intrigue any reader curious about the hypothetical anatomy of mythical creatures such as mermaids, minotaurs, and harpies. In the context of the story that precedes them, they prompt disquieting thoughts about the extreme lengths to which the fictional Dr. Black may have been willing to go to prove his assumptions, and what—or who—may have served as his models.”                                       ForeWord Reviews
“…a bit of Charles Darwin and a bit of P.T. Barnum.”       Inked Magazine

The book is a welcome addition to any library of dark fantasy, with its beautiful portraiture and gripping description of a man’s descent into perversity.”                 Publishers Weekly, Pick of the Week

Disturbingly lovely…The Resurrectionist is itself a cabinet of curiosities, stitching history and mythology and sideshow into an altogether different creature. Deliciously macabre and beautifully grotesque.”             Erin Morgenstern, author of The Night Circus

The Purple Book: Symbolism & Sensuality in Contemporary Art and Illustration by Angus Hyland

 The Purple Book is a luxurious compendium of contemporary illustration that explores fantasy, sensuality and the erotic imagination. It highlights visual art and the written word as media for representing human desires relationship with the dream-state, make-believe, and symbolism. Much of the work by illustrators exploring these themes is unpublished, personal work, and many works here appear in print for the first time. As well as a treasury of portfolios by 21 of the very best international contemporary illustrators, a series of specially-commissioned works illustrate five classic literary texts that have inspired the themes of The Purple Book. The personalities behind this commissioned work are revealed through interviews with their creators, exploring the imaginative process behind their visual fantasies and how this translates into the final artwork. The title of the book is inspired by The Yellow Book, the periodical published in the 1890s and initially art directed by Aubrey Beardsley. While the colour yellow represented the daringly salacious in the 1890s, today the colour purple is synonymous with opulence and sensuality.

 Vitamin D2: New Perspectives in Drawing

 An up-to-the-minute survey of contemporary drawing featuring 115 artists from around the world, Vitamin D2 allows the reader to look at the medium in detail and study drawing’s unique properties in relation to itself, to contemporary art and to the world at large. Phaidon’s influential Vitamin series began in 2002, offering an overview of current practice in a single medium within the arts. Now in its second decade, the series continues to expand, with Vitamin D2 the second volume devoted to the medium of drawing. Nominated by seventy-eight respected figures working internationally in contemporary art, Vitamin D2 presents the work of 115 artists who are currently emerging on the world stage, have become established since the first volume was published in 2005, or who have made a significant contribution to the medium of drawing in this time. With the participating artists born in over ninety cities, towns and villages in more than forty countries, each artist’s entry is accompanied by a text written by one of forty-five prominent critics, journalists, academics and curators. An introductory essay by Christian Rattemeyer, Associate Curator of Drawings at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, offers an engaging overview of recent and current drawing practice. Illustrated with over 500 images, Vitamin D2 features practices ranging from highly accomplished figurative drawing to abstract explorations of the medium, in materials including pencil, charcoal, crayon, pastel, ink, watercolour and digital drawing. Traditional techniques are matched by new approaches, often pushing the boundaries of drawing into collage, towards painting, sculpture, architecture, illustration, animation, performance and beyond. A broad range of genres, styles and subjects is evident in diverse forms, from drawings that fit in the palm of the hand to works that cover an entire courtyard. Vitamin D2 reflects the vitality and energy of current drawing, demonstrating that artists continue to consider drawing an essential vehicle for addressing and interacting with the world today. Both a reference book for the art world and an accessible introduction for newcomers to the scene, Vitamin D2 provides an indispensable guide to drawing today.



Creative Stuff: An Activity Book for Visual Thinkers by Dave Gouveia

 What is Creative Stuff?

Creative Stuff is inspiring and colorful.
Creative Stuff can be messy, witty and wonderful.
Creative Stuff is a tool that brings humor and fun to the creative process.
Creative Stuff is full of puzzles, games, activities and thought-starters.
Creative Stuff is a workbook for visual creatives, and you’re holding it right now.

Exercise your imagination through interactive games and challenges, sharpen your brainpower with puzzles and brain teasers, and find inspiration when you need it most! This workbook will jumpstart creativity and brainstorming for visual thinkers – you know who you are! Every page will stimulate the senses and get those creative juices flowing fast and furious.

 About Us

Falls the Shadow: Between the Promise and the Reality of the South African Constitution by Kristina Bentley

South Africa supposedly has one of the best Constitutions in the world, one which is intended to control and constrain the exercise of power by the state so that it does not threaten the liberty and security of citizens. But, in reality, does the Constitution contribute more to the security of some groups than others? Does it help to ensure certain types of security but not others? And does it have greater impact on some institutions than others? The book is based on the assumption that the Constitution has a significant impact on the security of Southern African citizens and communities but that this impact is differential. The chapters in the book explore what kind of differential impact the Constitution has, explains what accounts for the differences, examines the consequences of the different impact and consider whether there are any general observations and hypotheses that emerge from comparative perspectives.

 The Promise of Land: Undoing a Century of Dispossession in South Africa by Fred Hendricks, Lungisile Ntsebeza and Kirk Helliker

The starting point for this book is that the current land reform policies in the country fail to take the colonial context of division and exclusion into account. As a result, there is an abiding land crisis in South Africa. The book examines the many dimensions of this crisis in urban areas, commercial farming areas and communal areas. It argues for a fundamental change in approach to move beyond the impasse in both policy and thinking about land. Of particular importance is that social movements have a critical role to play in charting a new course, both in respect of access to land and in influencing broader policy options. Struggles from below are crucial for rethinking purely statist efforts at land reform and the book grapples with the interplay between oppositional campaigns of social movements and the state’s policies and responses.

Essentially, the book argues that in South Africa the 1994 transition from apartheid to democracy has not translated into a process of decolonisation. In fact, the very bases of colonialism and apartheid remain intact, since racial inequalities in both access to and ownership of land continue today. With state-driven attempts at land reform having failed to meet even their own targets, a fundamental change in approach is necessary for South Africa to move beyond the deadlock that prevails between the objectives of the policy, and the means for realising them. It is also necessary to question the targets set for land redistribution: Will these really assist in changes for the majority?

89 Bags and Counting: My Long Haul to OR Tambo and the Mystery of the Pilfered Baggage by Steve Chart

In 2007 Steve Chart was appointed as consultant to the Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) with the task of assisting in the reduction of baggage pilferage at OR Tambo International Airport. What Steve soon realised, however, was that in terms of security, the airport wasn’t a vessel with a small leakage problem, but a boat on the absolute verge of sinking. He encountered countless cases of corruption and poor management, and no desire to take responsibility.

This book details the many interesting and at times humorous investigations he undertook at the airport and deals extensively with the baggage handling system, and is a reminder to the public about protecting their luggage, themselves and their fellow travellers.


A Renegade Called Simphiwe by Pumla Dineo Gqola

 A Renegade called Simphiwe is award-winning feminist writer and scholar Pumla Dineo Gqola’s exploration of the public lives of the artist Simphiwe Dana, a rebel with several causes. In eight essays, Gqola shows why Simphiwe Dana is arguably one of the most significant cultural figures working in South Africa today. Dana’s musical repertoire, self-styling choices, public debates and growing written output display her causes. Controversy, tabloid headlines and fluctuating public responses to Ms Dana all reveal South African sensitivities on blackness, femininity, language and the imagination. How do we explain Dana’s place as both South Africa’s darling and her uncanny ability to push Mzansi’s buttons asks the author. Part intellectual biography and part commentary on South African contemporary culture, Gqola has captured a must-read portrait of Dana, her music and writing, her cultural activism, the vision in her work, and changing politics against the background of a changing post-apartheid popular culture.


The Letters of Kurt Vonnegut

This collection includes the letter the twenty-two-year old Vonnegut wrote home immediately upon being freed from the German POW camp; wry dispatches from Vonnegut’s years as a struggling writer; a letter to the CEO of Eagle Shirtmakers with a crackpot scheme to manufacture “atomic” bow ties; angry letters of protest to local school boards that tried to ban his work; letters to his children including advice like ‘Don’t let anybody tell you that smoking and boozing are bad for you. Here I am fifty-five years old, and I never felt better in my life’; fantastically wise letters to writers such as Norman Mailer, Günther Grass, and Bernard Malamud; and his characteristically modest response to being called a ‘great literary figure’: “I am an American fad – of a slightly higher order than the hula hoop.”

Like Vonnegut’s books, his letters make you think, they make you outraged and they make you laugh. Written over a sixty-year period, and never published before, these letters are alive with the unique point of view that made Vonnegut one of the most original writers in American fiction.

Red Nile: A Biography of the World’s Greatest River by Robert Twigger

So much begins on the banks of the Nile: all religion, all life, all stories, the script we write in, the language we speak, the gods, the legends and the names of stars. This mighty river that flows through a quarter of all Africa has been history’s greatest and most sustained creator.

In this dazzling, idiosyncratic journey from ancient times to the Arab Spring, Robert Twigger weaves a Nile narrative like no other. Along the way we meet crocodiles and caliphs, nineteenth-century adventurers and twentieth-century novelists, biblical prophets and classical lovers, dam-builders and crusaders. As he navigates a meandering course through the history of the world’s greatest river, he plucks the most intriguing, colourful and dramatic stories – truly a Nile red in tooth and claw.

The result is both an epic journey through the whole sweep of human (and pre-human) history, and an intimate biography of the curious life of this great river, overflowing with stories of excess, love, passion, splendour and violence.

Robert Twigger’s ambitious biography of the Nile is an unexpected triumph…a scintillatingly colourful account of a river and a region Twigger knows intimately…an elegiac moving book…hugely entertaining…probably the author’s magnum opus.”                   The Sunday Times

“…a tour de force; a brilliantly written scrapbook of history and travel, geography and science, myth and legend both ancient and modern…Twigger allows the river’s ever changing shape to inform this engrossing biography. It’s a vast subject but he never becomes overwhelmed by the material and has written an elegant, amusing and fascinating book, buoyed by his own enthusiasm, that draws you along in its current.”                      Financial Times

Like the vast, fast-flowing river itself with its waters teeming with crocodiles, hippopotami and bilharzia, so Red Nile teems with arcane facts and high spirited asides… Red Nile provides a feast of quirky, fascinating bits of knowledge, both funny and memorable.”            Spectator

If you have read Twigger before, you will know to expect divergence, wit, a weakness with the esoteric, an ability to make even the most obscure details seem relevant. All of which is perfectly suited to this subject and makes for an entertaining and absorbing read.”     Observer

 Small Wars, Far Away Places: The Genesis of the Modern World by Michael Burleigh

 The collapse of Western colonial empires after the Second World War led to any number of vicious struggles for power whose bloody consequences haunt us still. Acclaimed historian Michael Burleigh’s brilliant analytic skills and clear eye for common themes underpins this powerful account of those struggles. He takes us on a historical journey from Palestine to Pakistan, from Cuba to Indo-China and reframes mid-20th century history by forcing us to look away from the Cold War to the hot wars that continue to afflict us. The result is a dazzling work of history, which examines the death of colonialism with passion, insight and genuine understanding of what it feels like to be caught in the middle of realpolitik.

 “Vividly written and stimulating…the raw truth, conveyed in scintillating language by a master of historical irony and of the grimly entertaining. If history for grown-ups is what you’re after, this is it.”                                          Sunday Telegraph

Superb, scholarly, insightful and often witty…magnificent.”                      Simon Heffer, Literary Review

Burleigh is an equal opportunity moralist, not an ideologue, and he stalks his prey with feline grace … This is a story of personalities as much as one of geopolitical shifts, and Burleigh is a master of bringing it alive with sharp character insights.”                             Financial Times

A brilliant, complex, contradictory story, replete with character and incident, pungent and pithy and refreshingly free of preaching … the author delights in the detail, the small moment illustrating a large truth.”                                                           The Times

The violent geopolitical shifts of the immediate postwar years constitute a dramatic saga, which Burleigh recounts with panache and wit…lucid and persuasive.”                              Piers Brendon, Sunday Times

The Last Man in Russia: And the Struggle to Save A Dying Nation by Oliver Bullough

 From Oliver Bullough, the acclaimed author of the Orwell Prize-shortlisted, Let Our Fame Be Great, a study – part travelogue, part political analysis – of a nation in crisis

In the 1960s, when the Soviet Union said it was building heaven on earth and the brave, non-conformist dissidents lived like free men in the midst of this enormous prison, the Russian nation began to drink itself to death. For a while, government income from vodka surpassed their income from oil. Now, fifty years later, with the Soviet state dismantled, this is still a country where Muscovites might drink a bottle of vodka before breakfast, where demographers look with astonishment as the population of the world’s largest country continues to fall, far beyond the rate of decline in the West.

In The Last Man in Russia, award-winning writer Oliver Bullough uses the life of an extraordinary Orthodox priest, with equal passions for writing and for saving his fellow citizens from the KGB, to find out why. Following in the footsteps of Father Dmitry, Bullough reconstructs the world he experienced: the famine, the occupation, the war, the frozen wastes of the Gulag, the collapse of communism and the giddy excesses that followed it. While the story of Russia’s self-destruction is shrouded in secrecy and denial, with no contemporary documents to acknowledge or explain why so many Russians were seeking oblivion, Dmitry’s diaries and sermons are that rare thing: an insight into life in a totalitarian state, unmediated and raw, exposing the deep spiritual sickness born out of the country’s long communist experiment.

Offering a portrait of Russia like no other, one that traces the current contours of the Russian soul, Oliver Bullough shows that in a country so willing to crush its citizens, there is also courage, resilience and – at last – small, flickering glimmers of hope.

Brisk, lucid style … skilful interweaving of historical context with his own rich experience of Russia. [Bullough] has a talent for sketching the people he meets, often administering a welcome dose of humour … and he appreciates the absurd, in the best Russian tradition … an ambitious and wide-ranging journey.”                          Sunday Telegraph

 “An extraordinary portrait of a nation struggling to shed its past and find peace with itself.”                        Sunday Times

 “[A] superb hybrid of travel and social analysis…raw, poetic prose…The Last Man in Russia is distinguished by the excellence of its writing and its lucid, unsparing gaze.”                      Ian Thomson, Daily Telegraph

 “[Bullough] is particularly good at conjuring key moments, vivid characters and credible dialogue, and at flipping between the small incident and the big picture…Imagining [the whole country of Russia] is a whole lot easier with such a lively, well-written and commanding narrative to guide us.”      Anthony Sattin, Observer

 Extremes: Life Death and the Limits of the Human Body by Kevin Feng

 If you want to know what the human body can take, and why we must continue to push ourselves beyond the limit in the name of exploration, then read this book.”          Professor Brian Cox

In anaesthetist Dr Kevin Fong’s television programmes he has often demonstrated the impact of extremes on the human body by using his own body as a ‘guinea pig’. So Dr Fong is well placed to share his experience of the sheer audacity of medical practice at extreme physiological limits, where human life is balanced on a knife edge.

Through gripping accounts of extraordinary events and pioneering medicine, Dr Fong explores how our body responds when tested by the extremes of heat and cold, vacuum and altitude, age and disease. He shows how science, technology and medicine have taken what was once lethal in the world and made it survivable.

This is not only a book about medicine, but also about exploration in its broadest sense – and about how, by probing the very limits of our biology, we may ultimately return with a better appreciation of how our bodies work, of what life is, and what it means to be human.

 “I was hooked. The book could easily have ended up as a series of Boy’s Own tales of derring-do, but Fong elegantly balances heroism with rationalism, courage with compassion, shock with humility and humour.                               Observer

If you have a sense of adventure and the miracle of life within you, then this book is for you… [Kevin Fong is] Brian Cox with a stethoscope.”                      Times Higher Education Supplement

It’s terrifying but fascinating stuff…a gripping read.”                    Guardian

You don’t have to have a degree in astrophysics or medicine to enjoy this book, just an interest in humanity and the human body. Since we all have one, that would be just about everyone.”             Scotsman

From Quantum to Cosmos: The Universe Within by Neil Turok

In this visionary book, Neil Turok explores the great discoveries of the past three centuries – from the classical mechanics of Newton; to the nature of light; to the bizarre world of the quantum; to the evolution of the cosmos; and even the recent findings of Higgs bosons at the Large Hadron Collider.

Each new discovery has, over time, yielded new technologies that have transformed society. Now, he argues, we are on the cusp of another major change: the coming quantum revolution that will supplant our digital age. Facing this new world, Turok calls for creatively re-inventing the way advanced knowledge is developed and shared, and opening access to the vast, untapped pools of intellectual talent in the developing world. Scientific research, training, and outreach are vital to our future economy, as well as powerful forces for peaceful global progress.

Elegantly written and highly inspirational, The Universe Within is, above all, about the future – of science, of society, and of ourselves.


Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon’s Army and Other Diabolical Insects by Amy Stewart

In this darkly comical look at the sinister side of our relationship with the natural world, Stewart has tracked down over one hundred of our worst entomological foes-creatures that infest, infect, and generally wreak havoc on human affairs. From the world’s most painful hornet, to the flies that transmit deadly diseases, to millipedes that stop traffic, to the bookworms that devour libraries, to the Japanese beetles munching on your roses, Wicked Bugs delves into the extraordinary powers of six- and eight-legged creatures. Intricate and strangely beautiful etchings and drawings by Briony Morrow-Cribbs capture diabolical bugs of all shapes and sizes in this mixture of history, science, murder, and intrigue that begins-but doesn’t end-in your own back garden.

 Happy Reading!

Open Book meme #3

Monday, July 29th 2013 at 5:04 PM


Girl Power Storytime

Saturday, July 27th 2013 at 11:00 AM

girl on bikeSometimes it seems that all the girls are wearing pink dresses and have dolls, but what if you like to wear blue or climb trees?

Today we will read some stories about girls that are just a little bit different and that is sometimes even more fun! The stories are all funny and charming and we want everyone to come along and listen to Not-a-Princess Claire read us stories.

And then we might just make our own kinds of girls with paper and glue sticks.


Open Book meme #2

Friday, July 26th 2013 at 12:17 PM


Launch of Water Music by Margie Orford, in conversation with Marianne Thamm

Wednesday, July 24th 2013 at 5:30 PM

water music

When an emaciated child is found on an icy Cape mountainside, profiler Dr Clare Hart is baffled that no one has reported her missing. Where does she come from, who does she belong to? To further complicate matters, a distraught man pleads with Clare to find his missing granddaughter, Rosa, a gifted but troubled young cellist who has abandoned her music scholarship.

In a race against time, Clare battles to unravel the two cases and locate the missing Rosa. As winter tightens its grip, she is confronted by chilling secrets in a context where criminals act with increasing impunity and the police can no longer be trusted. Amidst the frenzy of the investigation, Clare must also bear a secret of her own.

Water Music is a page-turner with a masterly plot that will keep you reading to the last sentence. It is the fifth novel in Margie Orford’s Clare Hart series, which has been published to international acclaim.

About the author

Margie Orford is a South African crime novelist. She is also well-known as an award winning journalist, film director and author of children’s fiction, non-fiction and school text books.

Born in London, she grew up in Namibia and South Africa. While at the University of Cape Town she wrote for Varsity and was detained during the State of Emergency in 1985. She wrote her final exams in prison. After traveling widely, she studied under JM Coetzee, and worked in publishing in the newly-independent Namibia. Here she became involved in training through the African Publishers Network. In 1999 she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship. While in New York she worked on a groundbreaking archival retrieval project, Women Writing Africa: The Southern Volume.

Margie Orford is the author of five fiction novels published through Jonathan Ball: Like Clockwork, Blood Rose, Daddy’s Girl, Gallows Hill and, in 2013 Water Music.


Open Book meme #1

Wednesday, July 24th 2013 at 1:39 PM



Launch of VuvuzelaNation, with Zapiro and Mike Wills

Tuesday, July 23rd 2013 at 5:30 PM


With incisive text from journalist Mike Wills, this new Jacana title provides a keen-eyed, irreverent look at everything from Kamp Staaldraad to Bok World Cup glory, from cricketing chokers to champions, from SAFA bungling to the emotional success of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

An extraordinary cast of colourful sporting characters has been captured by the pen of Zapiro over the past twenty years – Louis Luyt, Hansie Cronje, Caster Semenya, Herschelle Gibbs, Benni McCarthy, Bryan Habana, Lucas Radebe, Peter de Villiers & Oscar Pistorius among them – and this book promises a comprehensive and entertaining look at our nation’s favourite pastimes.

About the Author

Zapiro is Jonathan Shapiro. Born in 1958, he survived school in Cape Town, architecture at UCT, conscription, activism, detention and a Fulbright Scholarship to New York before finding himself, and starting to irritate public figures, as South Africa’s best known cartoonist. He has worked for the Mail & Guardian since 1994, the Sunday Times since 1998 and has contributed to many other major newspapers. He has published seventeen best-selling annuals and The Mandela Files. In addition to numerous local and international cartooning accolades, Zapiro has won the SA Comedy Award and Vodacom Journalist of the Year, and been awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Literature.

Born in Sydney and a history graduate from Cambridge University, Mike Wells occasionally finds ways to turn his obsession with sport into something resembling paid work. He provided a wry weekly sports column for the Saturday Cape Argus for 11 years and is the author of The Cycle Tour. He lives in Cape Town from where, with unrequited passion, he follows Spurs, Ajax, the Stormers and the Cobras. He is also a regular current affairs radio talk show host on 567 Cape Talk and Talk Radio 702 and sometimes crosses over to the dark side to work in advertising & PR.


Alex Latimer Celebrates Just So Stories with Us

Saturday, July 20th 2013 at 2:30 PM

just so stories