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Launch of Categories of Person edited by Megan Jones and Jacob Dlamini. Megan will be in conversation with Prof. Njabulo Ndebele

Thursday, October 31st 2013 at 5:30 PM

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As ongoing controversies demonstrate, race in particular continues to galvanise and polarise public opinion in South Africa. Categories of Persons challenges the rhetoric of contemporary race and social discourse and offers alternative ways of looking at how we present ourselves and look at one another in South Africa today.

From taxi rides to cross-dressing, inter-race marriages to living with disability and off-beat topics in between, the personal and evocative contributions from Neels Blom, Jacob Dlamini, Megan Jones, Antony Kaminju, Antjie Krog, Karen Lazar, Riaan Oppelt, Verashni Pillay and Kopano Ratele, are guaranteed to challenge assumptions about what it means to be ‘able-bodied’, ‘black’, ‘white’, ‘Indian’ or ‘coloured’ as they narrate encounters and experiences that transcend racial and social stereotyping.

‘This thought-provoking and intriguing book explores a robust space of expanding and interacting identities that might just be the space for South Africa’s future politics.’ – Njabulo S. Ndebele


The Horror! The Horror! Bloody Parchment Returns

Wednesday, October 30th 2013 at 5:30 PM

Bloody Parchment The Root CellarIt’s time to haul out your wizard’s hat, carve your pumpkin and dust off those fake spiders – the SA HorrorFest Bloody Parchment event will once again manifest in the basement of the Book Lounge.

With the likes of S.A. Partridge, Diane Awerbuck, Toby Bennett, Henrietta Rose-Innes, Zane Marc Gentis, Carine Engelbrecht and Nerine Dorman offering their particular brand of strange tales on the night, you’ll be in for a spooky, Halloween treat.

And there will be prizes for the best costume, so come be our best Frankenstein!

Read more about SA HorrorFest


Launch of In the Shadow of Policy, edited by Ben Cousins & Paul Hebinck

Tuesday, October 29th 2013 at 5:30 PM

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Notions of land and agrarian reform are now well entrenched in post-apartheid South Africa. But what this reform actually means for everyday life is not clearly understood, nor the way it will impact on the political economy. In the Shadow of Policy explores the interface between the policy of land and agrarian reform and its implementation; and between the decisions of policy ‘experts’ and actual livelihood experiences in the fields and homesteads of land reform projects.

Starting with an overview of the socio-historical context in which land and agrarian reform policy has evolved in South Africa, the volume presents empirical case studies of land reform projects in the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape provinces. These draw on multiple voices from various sectors and provide a rich source of material and critical reflections to inform future policy and research agendas.

In the Shadow of Policy will be a key reference tool for those working in the area of development studies and land policy, and for civil society groups and NGOs involved in land restitution.

Editor(s): Ben Cousins, Paul Hebinck

Contributor(s): Ben Cousins, Derick Fay, Dik Roth, Francois Marais, Harriët Tienstra, Henning de Klerk, Jonathan Denison, Karin Kleinbooi, Klara Jacobson, Limpho Taoana, Malebogo Phetlhu, Modise Moseki, Ntombekhaya Faku, Paul Hebinck, Petunia Khutswane, Robert Ross, Rosalie Kingwill, Wim van Averbeke, Zamile Madyibi


October 2013

Tuesday, October 29th 2013 at 9:15 AM

Book of the Month

One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson

Our favourite writer of narrative non-fiction Bill Bryson travels back in time to a forgotten summer when America came of age, took centre stage, and, in five eventful months, changed the world for ever.

In the summer of 1927, America had a booming stock market, a president who worked just four hours a day (and slept much of the rest of the time), a semi-crazed sculptor with a mad plan to carve four giant heads into an inaccessible mountain called Rushmore, a devastating flood of the Mississippi, a sensational murder trial, and a youthful aviator named Charles Lindbergh who started the summer wholly unknown and finished it as the most famous man on earth. (So famous that Minnesota considered renaming itself after him.)

It was the summer that saw the birth of talking pictures, the invention of television, the peak of Al Capone’s reign of terror, the horrifying bombing of a school in Michigan by a madman, the ill-conceived decision that led to the Great Depression, the thrillingly improbable return to greatness of a wheezing, over-the-hill baseball player named Babe Ruth, and an almost impossible amount more.

In this hugely entertaining book, Bill Bryson spins a story of brawling adventure, reckless optimism and delirious energy, with a cast of unforgettable and eccentric characters, with trademark brio, wit and authority.

Bill Bryson is a true master of popular narrative. Over the course of his career, he has bestowed a beautiful clarity on even the most recondite of subjects…With this book, he proves once again that he is able to juggle any number of different balls…while never letting a single one drop…Has history ever been so enjoyable?”                                                            Mail on Sunday

Few writers of nonfiction, and, let’s be honest, few enough writers of novels, can crack the narrative whip like Bryson. One Summer fairly whirls along…full of exhilarating, fact-filled fun…surely the most sublime distraction published this year.”                                 Observer

A fascinating snapshot of a season during which America, for better or worse, ushered in the modern world.”                                  Sunday Times

A gifted raconteur…The book is filled with eccentric, flamboyant characters and memorable stories…highly amusing.”                                 Guardian

 “This splendid book, written in the breezy and humorous style that has come to be Bryson’s trademark, is sure to delight.”                                 Huffington Post


An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris


They lied to protect their country. He told the truth to save it. A gripping historical thriller from the bestselling author of Fatherland.

January 1895. On a freezing morning in the heart of Paris, an army officer, Georges Picquart, witnesses a convicted spy, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, being publicly humiliated in front of twenty thousand spectators baying ‘Death to the Jew!’

The officer is rewarded with promotion: Picquart is made the French army’s youngest colonel and put in command of ‘the Statistical Section’ – the shadowy intelligence unit that tracked down Dreyfus.

The spy, meanwhile, is given a punishment of medieval cruelty: Dreyfus is shipped off to a lifetime of solitary confinement on Devil’s Island – unable to speak to anyone, not even his guards, his case seems closed forever.

But gradually Picquart comes to believe there is something rotten at the heart of the Statistical Section. When he discovers another German spy operating on French soil, his superiors are oddly reluctant to pursue it. Despite official warnings, Picquart persists, and soon the officer and the spy are in the same predicament.

Narrated by Picquart, An Officer and a Spy is a compelling recreation of a scandal that became the most famous miscarriage of justice in history. Compelling, too, are the echoes for our modern world: an intelligence agency gone rogue, justice corrupted in the name of national security, a newspaper witch-hunt of a persecuted minority, and the age-old instinct of those in power to cover-up their crimes.

Many readers prize him as our supreme exponent of the “literary” thriller. His novels are not difficult – they are whizzing page-turners. They also combine masterly suspense and mystery with historical insight and political shrewdness. His latest novel is no exception: it is a cracking read from start to finish. It offers a bravura display of Harris’s fictional skills. The first is sureness of historical touch. In both general and specific terms the period comes alive. There is no need to wait for the film: it can scarcely be more exciting than the book.”                                                 Sunday Times

A compelling tale of power, cover-ups and idealism.”                    Telegraph

Harris is committed to the belief that you can get at a truth as a novelist that you can’t as an historian. and he does give us the look, sensations, sounds and smells as no historian could. It is informative, accomplished and highly enjoyable”                        Evening Standard

The Dreyfus Affair has now been brilliantly retold by Robert Harris. This is a book about spies and their deceits and the unreasonable demands that are made of them by their hard-to-please political governors. It is 1895 with a strong undercurrent of 2003. The real subject then is espionage and the broader, mutually manipulative relationship between the intelligence “community” and the political class. Along the way, Harris gives us plenty of espionage tradecraft. The eavesdropping, the handwriting analysis, the forgery.”                                 The Times



Sculptors of Mapungubwe by Zakes Mda

 In the timeless kingdom of Mapungubwe, the royal sculptor had two sons, Chata and Rendani. As they grew, so grew their rivalry – and their extraordinary talents. But while Rendani became a master sculptor of the animals that run in the wild hills and lush valleys of the land, Chata learned to carve fantastic beings from his dreams, creatures never before seen on the Earth. From this natural rivalry between brothers, Zakes Mda crafts an irresistibly rich fable of love and family. What makes the better art, perfect mimicry or inspiration? Who makes the better wife, a princess or a mysterious dancer? Ageless and contemporary, deceptive in its simplicity and mythical in its scope, The Sculptors of Mapungubwe encompasses all we know of love, envy, and the artist’s primal power to forge art from nature and nature into art. Mda’s newest novel will only strengthen his international reputation as one of the most trenchant voices of South Africa.

 “Vivid inventiveness and acerbic iconoclasm…tender humor and brutal violence vie with each other in Zakes Mda’s pages, as do vibrant life and sudden death. The struggle between them creates an energetic and refreshing literature for a country still coming to terms with both the new and the old.”                      New York Times Book Review

Zakes Mda may have a more central place in South Africa’s literary and political spheres than any other novelist today.”-New York Times Magazine “Quiet, subtle, and powerful, Zakes Mda’s enormous skills are everywhere in evidence, making the book impossible to put down.” -Washington Post “A postcolonial, postapartheid revelation…. A humorous, mythic, and complicated novel.”                        San Francisco Chronicle

Expo ’58 by Jonathan Coe

Expo 58 – Good-looking girls and sinister spies: a naive Englishman at loose in Europe in Jonathan Coe’s brilliant comic novel.

 London, 1958: unassuming civil servant Thomas Foley is plucked from his desk at the Central Office of Information and sent on a six-month trip to Brussels. His task: to keep an eye on The Brittania, a brand new pub which will form the heart of the British presence at Expo 58 – the biggest World’s Fair of the century, and the first to be held since the Second World War.

As soon as he arrives at the site, Thomas feels that he has escaped a repressed, backward-looking country and fallen headlong into an era of modernity and optimism. He is equally bewitched by the surreal, gigantic Atomium, which stands at the heart of this brave new world, and by Anneke, the lovely Flemish hostess who meets him off his plane. But Thomas’s new-found sense of freedom comes at a price: the Cold War is at its height, the mischievous Belgians have placed the American and Soviet pavilions right next to each other – and why is he being followed everywhere by two mysterious emissaries of the British Secret Service? Expo 58 may represent a glittering future, both for Europe and for Thomas himself, but he will soon be forced to decide where his public and private loyaties really lie.

For fans of Jonathan Coe’s classic comic bestsellers What a Carve Up! and The Rotters’ Club, this hilarious new novel, which is set in the Mad Men period of the mid 50s, will also be loved by readers of Nick Hornby, William Boyd and Ian McEwan.

Coe has huge powers of observation and enormous literary panache.”                Sunday Times

 “No one marries formal ingenuity with inclusiveness of tone more elegantly.”     Time Out

 “Thank goodness for Jonathan Coe, who records what Britain has lost in the past thirty years in his elegiac fiction.”                         Scotland on Sunday

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

An epic war between good and evil, Doctor Sleep is a gory, glorious follow-up to one of Stephen King’s most successful and electrifying books – The Shining.

King says he wanted to know what happened to Danny Torrance, the boy at the heart of The Shining, after his terrible experience in the Overlook Hotel. The riveting Doctor Sleep picks up the story of the now middle-aged Dan, working at a hospice in rural New Hampshire, and the very special twelve-year old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.

On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless – mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and tween Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the ‘steam’ that children with the ‘shining’ produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him and a job at a nursing home where his remnant ‘shining’ power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes ‘Doctor Sleep.’

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival…


Tilted World by Tom Franklin

From the author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, winner of the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel of the Year April 1927.

After months of rain, the Mississippi River has reached dangerous levels and the little town of Hobnob, situated at a sharp bend in the river and protected only by a faltering levee, is at threat. Residents fear the levee will either explode under the pressure of the water or be blown by saboteurs from New Orleans, who wish to save their own city. Now Ingersoll, a blues-playing prohibition agent, and his gregarious partner Ham, must travel to Hobnob to investigate the strange disappearance of their predecessors; and then get out while they can. But when the men come across an orphaned baby, they can little imagine how events are about to change them – and the great South – forever.

Dixie Clay is a bootlegger, brewing moonshine for her feckless husband Jesse ever since they lost their baby to scarlet fever. Her marriage crumbling, she is guarding a terrible secret about the two missing prohibition agents. Before long, the lives of Ingersoll and Dixie Clay will collide; everything they thought they knew about love and loyalty will turn on its head. And in the dead of night, after thick, illusory fog, the levee will break…A gripping, lyrical novel set against the greatest natural disaster in US history, The Tilted World takes a devastating historical moment and weaves an unforgettable tale of love and survival.

 “A new novel from Tom Franklin is always a reason to get excited, but a novel from Franklin and Fennelly is just cause to throw a block party.”                     Dennis Lehane, New York Times bestselling author

Sometimes a crime writer comes along who shakes the genre so that all the clichés come rattling out like loose nails, leaving something clean and spare. Tom Franklin proved to be such a writer with his atmospheric Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (2010), set in rural Mississippi. But is Franklin even a crime writer at all? Or is he, like his great predecessor William Faulkner (a clear influence), using the trappings of the crime novel for literary ends? This gritty, vivid tale is even more impressive than Crooked Letter.”                              Financial Times

This enthralling novel, written by a husband and wife, both of whom are winners of literary prizes, is set against a background of the worst natural disaster America has ever endured…The landscape is brilliantly described, the major characters and the bit parts all spring to life vividly…it is my tip to win a major literary prize.”                        Literary Review

Just like his Gold Dagger award-winning tale of a murder, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, Tom Franklin’s new thriller The Tilted World, written with his wife, the poet Beth Ann Fennelly, immerses its readers in America’s deep south. It’s a thriller for those who like their fiction literary, or literary fiction for those who like their thrill…There are thrills and nail-biting aplenty in The Tilted World, as Dixie Clay finds herself spiralling deeper into danger, and as the Mississippi lunges for the top of the levee where the sandbaggers struggle to contain it. But from the chilly descriptions of the rain that drip from its pages, to its effortless recreation of prohibition-era America – The Tilted World is a thriller to savour, not to rush through. Franklin and Fennelly’s characters are each beautifully, fully realised, from Dixie Clay in all her tough isolation and her longing for a child – Franklin wrote loneliness well in Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter too – to Ingersoll, the blues-playing orphan. The threat of the rising Mississippi is fabulously ominous, the villains of the piece also suitably disturbing. Franklin comes garlanded with praise from the likes of Philip Roth and Dennis Lehane. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter was eminently worthy of its best crime novel of the year gong back in 2011, and teaming up with the prize-winning Fennelly for The Tilted World has created another novel whose presence stays long after it is put aside. This is a drowning world of “murder and moonshine, sandbagging and saboteurs, dynamite and deluge” Franklin and Fennelly have given us and, as autumn draws in and the rain keeps falling, it’s one to dive into with gleeful foreboding.”                                             Observer


Maddaddam by Margaret Atwood

A man-made plague has swept the earth, but a small group survives, along with the green-eyed Crakers – a gentle species bio-engineered to replace humans. Toby, onetime member of the God’s Gardeners and expert in mushrooms and bees, is still in love with street-smart Zeb, who has an interesting past. The Crakers’ reluctant prophet, Snowman-the-Jimmy, is hallucinating; Amanda is in shock from a Painballer assault; and Ivory Bill yearns for the provocative Swift Fox, who is flirting with Zeb. Meanwhile, giant Pigoons and malevolent Painballers threaten to attack.

Told with wit, imagination, and dark humour, Booker Prize-winning Margaret Atwood’s unpredictable, chilling and hilarious MaddAddam takes us further into a challenging dystopian world – a moving and dramatic conclusion to the internationally celebrated trilogy that began with Oryx and Crake and The Year of the Flood.

Margaret Atwood also has the really fine writer’s light-footed ability to keep dancing around her characters…moving, but also very funny…MaddAddam is an extraordinary achievement.”                                                             Independent on Sunday

A haunting, restless triumph…Deadpan wit, intellectual sizzle and sensuous immediacy – Atwood’s fictional trademarks – run through the teeming inventiveness of the novel’s pre-disaster episodes.”                      Sunday Times

MaddAddam is remarkable for enacting the transition from oral to written history within a fictional universe – one complete with myths and false gods…MaddAddam is the work of a wild, subversive writer who has looked long and hard at her craft.”                      Times Literary Supplement

It may have been a decade in the making, but it has been well worth the wait…Margaret Atwood not only completes one of the most harrowing visions of a near-future dystopia in recent fiction, but lures us even further into new zones of existential terror.”           John Burnside, The Times

It’s easy to appreciate the grand array of Margaret Atwood’s works…in all their power and grace and variety. When I think of it, and put it together with her writerly gifts and achievements, it takes my breath away.”                                           Alice Munro


Solo: A James Bond novel by William Boyd

It is 1969 and James Bond is about to go solo, recklessly motivated by revenge.

A seasoned veteran of the service, 007 is sent to single-handedly stop a civil war in the small West African nation of Zanzarim. Aided by a beautiful accomplice and hindered by the local militia, he undergoes a scarring experience which compels him to ignore M’s orders in pursuit of his own brand of justice. Bond’s renegade action leads him to Washington, D.C., where he discovers a web of geopolitical intrigue and witnesses fresh horrors.

Even if Bond succeeds in exacting his revenge, a man with two faces will come to stalk his every waking moment.

A fantastic read, which I ripped through in the time it would take to watch Skyfall, as it happens, and I found it significantly more enjoyable.”                    The Times

It’s good to report that Boyd has immersed himself in the character, the author and his oeuvre and come up with an Afro-American adventure that’s triumphantly the equal of the great Bond adventures, Casino Royale and From Russia, with Love. Boyd IS Bond.”                      Guardian

The poised, lyrical writing is a joy to read.”                         Telegraph


The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

 Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2013. It is 1866, and Walter Moody has come to make his fortune upon the New Zealand goldfields. On arrival, he stumbles across a tense gathering of twelve local men, who have met in secret to discuss a series of unsolved crimes. A wealthy man has vanished, a whore has tried to end her life, and an enormous fortune has been discovered in the home of a luckless drunk. Moody is soon drawn into the mystery: a network of fates and fortunes that is as complex and exquisitely patterned as the night sky. The Luminaries is an extraordinary piece of fiction. It is full of narrative, linguistic and psychological pleasures, and has a fiendishly clever and original structuring device. Written in pitch-perfect historical register, richly evoking a mid-19th century world of shipping and banking and goldrush boom and bust, it is also a ghost story, and a gripping mystery. It is a thrilling achievement for someone still in her mid-20s, and will confirm for critics and readers that Catton is one of the brightest stars in the international writing firmament.

“The Luminaries is an impressive novel, captivating, intense and full of surprises.”                            Times Literary Supplement

It is awesomely – even bewilderingly – intricate. There’s an immaculate finish to Catton’s prose, which is no mean feat in a novel that lives or dies by its handling of period dialogue. It’s more than 800 pages long but the reward for your stamina is a double-dealing world of skullduggery traced in rare complexity.”                              Evening Standard

Every sentence of this intriguing tale set on the wild west coast of southern New Zealand during the time of its goldrush is expertly written, every cliffhanger chapter-ending making us beg for the next to begin. The Luminaries has been perfectly constructed as the consummate literary page-turner.”   Guardian

An intellectual deconstruction and a remarkable act of literary ventriloquism that truly feels as if it has been written in the same spirit as its antecedents. Although I felt the need to gallop through the book in pursuit of some answer that would satisfy my increasingly painful curiosity, I found myself frequently slowing down to savour Catton’s characterisations and gentle wit. The Man Booker judges have really struck gold.”                        Sunday Express

Carefully executed, relentlessly clever, easy to read… Catton sustains a human comedy that sweeps through the hope, the mud, the lies and the secrecy underlying gold fever. It is not so much a morality play as an astute celebration of the power of the story.”                     Irish Times


Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

From Subhash’s earliest memories, at every point, his brother was there. In the suburban streets of Calcutta where they wandered before dusk and in the hyacinth-strewn ponds where they played for hours on end, Udayan was always in his older brother’s sight.

So close in age, they were inseparable in childhood and yet, as the years pass – as U.S tanks roll into Vietnam and riots sweep across India – their brotherly bond can do nothing to forestall the tragedy that will upend their lives. Udayan – charismatic and impulsive – finds himself drawn to the Naxalite movement, a rebellion waged to eradicate inequity and poverty. He will give everything, risk all, for what he believes, and in doing so will transform the futures of those dearest to him: his newly married, pregnant wife, his brother and their parents. For all of them, the repercussions of his actions will reverberate across continents and seep through the generations that follow.

Epic in its canvas and intimate in its portrayal of lives undone and forged anew, The Lowland is a deeply felt novel of family ties that entangle and fray in ways unforeseen and unrevealed, of ties that ineluctably define who we are. With all the hallmarks of Jhumpa Lahiri’s achingly poignant, exquisitely empathetic story-telling, this is her most devastating work of fiction to date.

 “A sweeping, ambitious story…There is no doubt that The Lowland confirms Lahiri as a writer of formidable powers and a great depth of feeling.”                 Observer

 “She has an extraordinary power of empathy for her characters and a steady hand for unspooling the knotted threads of their individual motives and histories.”                   Sunday Times

 “She observes the small moments of adapting to a new country particularly beautifully…Cool, measured and beguiling writing.”                              The Times

The Blacks of Cape Town by CA Davids

The Blacks of Cape Town weaves a narrative that shifts between past and present and contemporary South African and American politics to examine betrayal and displacement: Historian, Zara Black, is in an unfamiliar room in a country far from home, when she is awoken by music that evokes memories she has been trying to forget. It is this call from her father, seemingly from beyond the grave, that finally pushes Zara to accept that it falls to her to understand the occurrences that forced her away from Cape Town and into a scholarly position that she does not entirely want, at a North American University. The USA, caught up in an election of a new and historic president, offers its challenges as Zara Black traces the fault lines of her family from the Kimberly diamond mines to contemporary South Africa – a place which Zara feels increasingly isolated from; its politics leaving her perturbed.

The Blacks of Cape Town feels like something new in scope and focus. In many ways, it is a breakthrough into previously forbidden territory. A brave, understated exploration of an uncomfortable reality.”                                                         Professor Kelwyn Sole, University of Cape Town

 “Narratively ambitious and stylistically supple, The Blacks of Cape Town revisits the large themes of South African literature with originality and flair.”            Professor Isabel Hofmeyr, University of the Witwatersrand

Hide Me Among the Graves by Tim Powers

London, 1862: a city of stinking fog and dark, winding streets.

 Adelaide McKee, a former prostitute, arrives on the doorstep of veterinary doctor John Crawford, a man she met once seven years earlier and the father of her only child, long presumed dead. She has recently learned that the girl lives – but her life and soul are sought by a ghostly vampire. And this is no ordinary spirit; the bloodthirsty wraith is that of John Polidori, Lord Byron’s doctor…

Sweeping from high society to grimy slums, from elegant West End salons to the pre-Roman catacombs beneath St. Paul’s, Hide Me Among the Graves blends the historical and the supernatural in a unique and dazzling novel.

Tim Powers is a brilliant writer…Wonderfully original.”                 William Gibson

 “Superbly written, wonderfully imagined.”                           The Times

 “Powers conjures a rich mythology based on vampire lore [blending] literature, history and the supernatural. Powers is one of the best fantasy authors, here at the very top of his game.”                   Financial Times

 “Powers’ sense of time and place is impeccable, and his characters – real and imaginary – leap off the page as the story gallops towards a thrilling finale. A long time coming, Hide Me Among the Graves has been worth the wait.                       Guardian

 “Powers’s speciality is secret supernatural histories of the world that offer far more plausible explanations for everything than, say, Dan Brown, and are conceptually far wittier. He is an intelligent, emotionally complex writer with a taste for elegantly conceived nightmare. “                              Independent

 “Dickens as directed by David Lynch…both clever and fun.”                         SFX Magazine

The Deep Whatsis by Peter Mattei

A gripping and hilarious satire of hipsters, consumerism, contemporary art, for fans of Bret Easton Ellis and Don Delillo.

When a successful Advertising Executive meets a mischievous intern, his whole sensational existence begins to crumble around him.

Eric Nye, a Chief Idea Officer at a New York advertising agency, is the ultimate corporate success story. Ruthless, talented and young, his employers pay him an extortionate amount of money to manage the ‘downsizing’ of their company, which entails firing dozens of longtime employees before their pensions kick in.

It’s only when he meets ‘Intern’ that cracks begin to show in his seemingly triumphant existence. Eric could have ‘Intern’ any time he wants her. So why hasn’t he? And why can’t he stop thinking about her. Before long, what begins as sexual frustration becomes an existential crisis that causes Eric to question his careers, his relationships, even his sanity.

Mattei’s addictive debut follows its anti-hero’s quest for contemporary self-identity in a toxic corporate world.

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert

5 January 1800. At the beginning of a new century, Alma Whittaker is born into a perfect Philadelphia winter. Her father, Henry Whittaker, is a bold and charismatic botanical explorer whose vast fortune belies his lowly beginnings as a vagrant in Sir Joseph Banks’s Kew Gardens and as a deck hand on Captain Cook’s HMS Resolution. Alma’s mother, a strict woman from an esteemed Dutch family, has a knowledge of botany equal to any man’s.

It is not long before Alma, an independent girl with a thirst for knowledge, comes into her own within the world of plants and science. But as her careful studies of moss take her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, the man she comes to love draws her in the opposite direction – into the realm of the spiritual, the divine and the magical. She is a clear-minded scientist; he is a Utopian artist. But what unites this couple is a shared passion for knowing – a desperate desire to understand the workings of this world and the mechanisms behind all of life.

The story of Alma Whittaker’s journey of discovery has irresistible momentum.”                              Helen Dunmore, The Times

Ms Gilbert has established herself as a straight-up storyteller who dares us into adventures of worldly discovery, and this novel stands as a winning next act…A bracing homage to the many natures of genius and the inevitable progress of ideas, in a world that reveals its best truths to the uncommonly patient minds.”                             Barbara Kingsolver, International Herald Tribune

Charming and compelling…A big novel in all senses – extensively researched, compellingly readable and with a powerful charm that will surely propel it towards the bestseller lists.”                         Daily Telegraph

Sumptuous…Gilbert’s prose is by turns flinty, funny, and incandescent.”                             New Yorker

Quite simply one of the best novels I have read in years…a bejewelled, dazzling novel.”                            Observer

A botanical odyssey through the nineteenth century, global in ambition, revelling in the period’s insatiable curiosity about the world…a tall tale, told with verve and wit.”                                 Guardian


Enon by Paul Harding

Second novel from the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Tinkers. In Enon, Harding follows a year in the life of Charlie Crosby as he tries to come to terms with a shattering personal tragedy. Grandson of George Crosby (the protagonist of Tinkers), Charlie inhabits the same dynamic landscape of New England, its seasons mirroring his turbulent emotional odyssey. Along the way, Charlie’s encounters are brought to life by his wit, his insights into history, and his yearning to understand the big questions.

I don’t think I’ve read anything quite so strangely moving for a very long time. Such a relief to know there are still writers around who can write about real people, and who notice the world around them, and can turn that into exquisite art. Unbearably tense, but so rewarding as well. Every snatch of dialogue seemed pitch-perfect.”                     Gerard Woodward

Gorgeous and haunting . Harding’s second novel again proves he’s a contemporary master and one of our most important voices.”                           Publisher’s Weekly

Harding writes with superb sensitivity about the mental and physical effects of a broken heart.”                                                             The Times


The Round House by Louise Erdrich

A mother is brutally raped by a man on their North Dakota reservation where she lives with her husband and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. Traumatised and afraid, she takes to her bed and refuses to talk to anyone – including the police. While her husband, a tribal judge, endeavours to wrest justice from a situation that defies his keenest efforts, young Joe’s world shifts on its child’s axis. Confused, and nursing a complicated fury, Joe sets out to find answers that might put his mother’s attacker behind bars – and make everything right again. Or so he hopes. The Round House is a poignant and abundantly humane story of a young boy pitched prematurely into an unjust adult world. It is a story of vivid survival; and it confirms Louise Erdrich as one of America’s most distinctive contemporary novelists.

“The Round House is an extraordinary, engrossing novel, which should live long in the memory.”                                              Independent on Sunday

The Round House showcases [Erdrich’s] extraordinary ability to delineate the ties of love, resentment, need, duty and sympathy that bind families together…[a] powerful novel.”                        New York Times

A rare insight into the dilemma of an adolescent caught between two cultures.”                              Mail on Sunday

A compelling coming-of-age story…[Erdrich] is a gifted storyteller who brings all these characters and tales together with sureness and grace.”                      Indpendent

Emotionally compelling…Joe is an incredibly endearing narrator, full of urgency and radiant candor…the story he tells transforms a sad, isolated crime into a revelation about how maturity alters our relationship with our parents, delivering us into new kinds of love and pain.”                              Washington Post


The Siege by Arturo Pérez-Reverte

Cádiz, 1811. Spain is battling for independence while America is doing the same. But in the streets of the most liberal city in Europe other battles are taking place. A serial killer is on the loose, flaying young women to death. Each of these murders takes place near the site where a French bomb has just fallen. It is the job of policeman Rogelio Tizon to find the murderer and avoid public scandal in a city already posied on the brink.

Cádiz is a complex chessboard on which an unseen hand is moving the pieces that will decide the fate of its protagonists: a corrupt and brutal policeman; the female heir to important shipping company; an unscrupulous corsair captain; a taxidermist who is also a spy, a hardened soldier, and an eccentric French artilleryman.

With all the intrigue and romance of Perez-Reverte’s bestsellers, The Dumas Club and The Flanders Panel, The Siege is the story of a city and a people who will never be the same again.

Arturo Perez-Reverte has long been Spain’s most popular, inventive writer of historical fiction…this is a big and bold novel, rich in character and incident.”                  Sunday Times

Arturo Perez-Reverte’s bold new thriller…The Siege is his best yet: an ambitious intellectual thriller peopled with colourful rogues and antiheroes, meticulous in its historical detail, with a plot that rattles along to its unexpected finale.”                                Observer


Fearie Tales: Stories of the Grimm and Gruesome edited by Stephen Jones

Two hundred years ago two brothers, Jacob and Wilhelm, collected together a large selection of folk and fairy tales and published them as Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children’s and Household Tales). So successful was the first collection of 88 stories that they kept adding more to subsequent editions. Since then, the tales of the Brothers Grimm have been translated into upwards of a hundred different languages and are known and loved throughout the world.

Now award-winning editor Stephen Jones has tasked some of the brightest and best horror writers in Britain, America and Europe with reinterpreting some of the traditional Hausmärchen, putting a decidedly darker spin on the classic stories.

Featuring Christopher Fowler, Neil Gaiman, Joanne Harris, Brian Hodge, Tanith Lee, Brian Lumley, Garth Nix, Angela Slater and more…

Hello and Goodbye: Hello Mr Bones and Goodbye Mr Rat by Patrick McCabe

Welcome to Hello and Goodbye: two dark tales from two deceased narrators – bottled-lightning treats that will make you gasp, gurn, shiver and squirm.

Hello Mr Bones: two damaged souls have, thanks to each other’s love, turned their lives around. But as London’s weather takes a turn for the worse, so do their fates, when raw evil runs riot the night of the impossible hurricane.

Goodbye Mr Rat: an IRA bomber watches over his ex-lover as she takes his ashes back to his rural hometown. This girl from northern Indiana may not be ready for rural Ireland, yet the townsfolk of Iron Valley certainly have plans for her…

Stark, blackly humourous and compressed to the point of detonation; McCabe writes like M. R. James took a dread wrong turning on an Irish country road!

The Cook by Wayne Macauley

At seventeen Zac is given a choice: either go to a young offenders’ institute, or enrol in a rehabilitation scheme – a course that teaches juveniles how to cook.

He makes his choice.

He chooses to cook.

He also chooses to succeed.

Whatever it takes.

A riot of a novel. Gripping and subversive.”       Nick Cave.

A deliciously dark satire about foodyism, celebrity chefs and aspiring consumerism … Macauley’s stream-of-consciousness prose has a compulsive vitality.”               Daily Mail.

Much of this book seems grotesque, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s not real … each time you think you’ve reached the limits of this thought-provoking and brilliant novel, it just gets deeper.”         Scarlett Thomas, Guardian.



Smersh: Stalin’s Secret Weapon by Vadim Birstein

SMERSH is the award-winning account of the top-secret counterintelligence organisation that dealt with Stalin’s enemies from within the shadowy recesses of Soviet government. As James Bond’s nemesis in Ian Fleming’s novels, SMERSH and its operatives were depicted in exotic duels with 007, rather than fostering the bleak oppression and terror they actually spread in the name of their dictator. Stalin drew a veil of secrecy over SMERSH’s operations in 1946, but that did not stop him using it to terrify Red Army dissenters in Leningrad and Moscow, or to abduct and execute suspected spooks often without cause across mainland Europe. Formed to mop up Nazi spy rings at the end of the Second World War, SMERSH gained its name from a combination of the Russian words for Death to Spies. Successive Communist governments suppressed traces of Stalin’s political hit squad; now Vadim Birstein lays bare the surgical brutality with which it exerted its influence as part of the paranoid regime, both within the Soviet Union and in the wider world. SMERSH was the most mysterious and secret of organisations this definitive and magisterial history finally reveals truths that lay buried for nearly fifty years.

“A gripping history of Stalin’s military intelligence service filled with new details on previously unknown operations and the brutal characters of the Soviet secret world.”                      Simon Sebag Montefiore

Sounds Like London by Lloyd Bradley

For as long as people have been migrating to London, so has their music. An essential link to home, music also has the power to shape communities in surprising ways.Black music has been part of London’s landscape since the First World War, when the Southern Syncopated Orchestra brought jazz to the capital. Following the wave of Commonwealth immigration, its sounds and styles took up residence to become the foundation of the city’s youth culture. Sounds Like London tells the story of the music and the larger-than-life characters making it, journeying from Soho jazz clubs to Brixton blues parties to King’s Cross warehouse raves to the streets of Notting Hill – and onto sound systems everywhere. As well as a journey through the musical history of London, Sounds Like London is about the shaping of a city, and in turn the whole nation, through music. Contributors include Eddy Grant, Osibisa, Russell Henderson, Dizzee Rascal and Trevor Nelson, with an introduction by Soul2Soul’s Jazzie B.

Enlightening…Sounds Like London is a major achievement…Breezily written but always politically astute and critically sharp, it makes telling use of new interviews with important figures such as jazzman Russell Henderson and Eddy Grant. Enterprising radio commissioners should rush to give Bradley a regular show.”                   Guardian

I found myself riveted by descriptions of events and people I knew, but had never seen in print; even more so by what I learnt…fascinating…an honest and passionate celebration of not just the music, but the courage, tenacity and guile of the people who made it.”                     Financial Times

Epic…Sounds Like London is chock-full of fascinating, often forgotten characters … a major work, and a worthy tribute to a vibrant and innovative culture.”                            NME

Deep Sea and Foreign Going: Inside Shipping the Invisible Industry that Bring you 90% of Everything  by Rose George

There are 40,000 freighters on the seas. Between them they carry 80% of the world’s trade and 90% of its energy. Nearly everything we eat, wear and work with has spent some time on a ship. And yet this massive global industry has remained largely unexamined: it passes by out of sight of most of us and, through the ‘flags of convenience’ system, its dubious practices often slip under the radar of regulators. In this unique investigation, Rose George has travelled the high seas with their powerful naval fleets, pirate gangs, and illegal floating factories, as well as visiting the ports and their land-bound dockworkers, tycoons, missionaries, stevedores, border control guards, and ship-spotters. She will meet the beachcombers who track the 10,000 containers that are lost every year, the robots who are gradually replacing human crews, and the environmentalists campaigning to resist the tide of marine pollution. Intrepid, informed and tenacious, George steers a sure course through the murky, character-rich waters of international shipping.

Few readers will be left in any doubt as to the importance of this opaque industry on which we all depend.”                       Financial Times

“Deep Sea and Foreign Going is an ethnographic travelogue that is as fascinating as it is troublingly insightful. This is a remarkable work of embedded reportage – hair-raising, witty, compassionate – that deserves to be read.”                           Guardian

It is a travelogue of sorts, written in clear, straightforward English, about the people, pirates and machinery that make up the modern maritime industry: a series of complex, ancient and solitary traditions hidden from most, but as vital to life as ever.”                    New Statesman

George includes enough technical detail of the ‘gee whiz’ variety to satisfy any ship-spotter armed with Lloyd’s List. But the real interest in her book lies in her description of the industry and the men and women who work in it. A very good book.”                                Literary Review

Fascinating and insightful look inside the world of container ships, which reveals just how much modern life relies on them. –‘Must Read’.”                 Observer

The Swerve: How the Renaissance Began by Stephen Greenblatt


Almost six hundred years ago, a short, genial man took a very old manuscript off a library shelf. With excitement, he saw what he had discovered and ordered it copied. The book was a miraculously surviving copy of an ancient Roman philosophical epic, On the Nature of Things by Lucretius and it changed the course of history.

He found a beautiful poem of the most dangerous ideas – that the universe functioned without the aid of gods, that religious fear was damaging to human life, and that matter was made up of very small particles in eternal motion. These ideas fuelled the Renaissance, inspiring Botticelli, shaping the thoughts of Montaigne, Darwin and Einstein.

An innovative work of history by one of the world’s most celebrated scholars and a thrilling story of discovery, The Swerve details how one manuscript, plucked from a thousand years of neglect, made possible the world as we know it.

Superbly readable… An exciting story, and Greenblatt tells it with his customary clarity and verve”     Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Daily Telegraph

Superb history… this concise, learned and fluently written book tells a remarkable story”                  Charles Nicholl, Observer

Dazzling”           Guardian

The Story of the Jews by Simon Schama

It is a story like no other: an epic of endurance against destruction, of creativity in oppression, joy amidst grief, the affirmation of life against the steepest of odds. It spans the millennia and the continents – from India to Andalusia and from the bazaars of Cairo to the streets of Oxford. It takes you to unimagined places: to a Jewish kingdom in the mountains of southern Arabia; a Syrian synagogue glowing with radiant wall paintings; the palm groves of the Jewish dead in the Roman catacombs. And its voices ring loud and clear, from the severities and ecstasies of the Bible writers to the love poems of wine bibbers in a garden in Muslim Spain. Within these pages, the Talmud burns in the streets of Paris, massed gibbets hang over the streets of medieval London, a Major can illuminator redraws the world; candles are lit, chants are sung, mules are packed, ships loaded with spice and gems founder at sea. And a great story unfolds. Not – as often imagined – of a culture apart, but of a Jewish world immersed in and imprinted by the peoples among whom they have dwelled, from the Egyptians to the Greeks, from the Arabs to the Christians, which makes the story of the Jews everyone’s story, too.

For the reader – even those who thought they were familiar with the Jewish narrative – Schama’s book has surprises in plenty, like hidden plums in a cake… Simon Schama tells our story with characteristic relish. It is a glorious gift for the New Year”               Jenni Frazer Jewish Chronicle

This is classic Schama: playful, ironic, immensely erudite, exuding humanity. It is also deeply personal, with references to his parents and memories of his boyhood”                             David Cesarani New Statesman

Exuberant tour de force…[Schama] has an eye for the fascinating stories of Jewish history that are less known but also essential.”                  Simon Sebag Montefiore Daily Mail

Schama has written a proud and personal story of his people, one that will make a good starting point for those interested in one of history’s most fascinating and tragic tales.”                         Sunday Times

This book shows Schama at his best, doing his shtick and doing it well: no hasty product of midnight oil for a television tie-in, but a labour of love, as full of memorable incident as a Bellow novel and wittier than a Woody Allen movie.”                        The Times

Slavery Inc.: The Untold Story of International Sex Trafficking by Lydia Cacho

Illegal, inhuman, and impervious to recession, there is one trade that continues to thrive, just out of sight. The international sex trade criss-crosses the entire globe, a sinister network made up of criminal masterminds, local handlers, corrupt policemen, wilfully blind politicians, eager consumers, and countless exploited women and children. In this ground-breaking work of investigative reporting, the celebrated journalist Lydia Cacho follows the trail of the traffickers and their victims from Mexico to Turkey, Thailand to Iraq, Georgia to the UK, to expose the trade’s hidden links with the tourist industry, internet pornography, drugs and arms smuggling, the selling of body organs, money laundering, and even terrorism. Shocking and sobering, Slavery Inc. is an exceptional book, both for the colossal scope of its enquiry, and for the tenacious bravery with which Cacho pursues the truth.

The Golden Thread: The Story of Writing by Ewan Clayton

The Golden Thread is an enthralling and accessible history of the cultural miracle that is the written word. It is an invention that has been used to share ideas in every field of human endeavour, and a motor of cultural, scientific and political progress.

From the simple representative shapes used to record transactions of goods and animals in ancient Egypt, to the sophisticated typographical resources available to the twenty-first-century computer user, the story of writing is the story of human civilisation itself. Ewan Clayton marks each step in the historical development of writing, and explores the social and cultural impact of every stage: the invention of the alphabet; the replacement of the papyrus scroll with the codex in the late Roman period; the perfecting of printing using moveable type in the fifteenth century and the ensuing spread of literacy; the industrialization of printing during the Industrial Revolution; the impact of artistic Modernism on the written word in the early twentieth century – and of the digital switchover at the century’s close.

The Golden Thread raises issues of urgent interest for a society living in an era of unprecedented change to the tools and technologies of written communication. Chief amongst these is the fundamental question: ‘What does it mean to be literate in the world of the early twenty-first century?’ The Golden Thread belongs on the bookshelves of anyone who is inquisitive not just about the centrality of writing in the history of humanity, but also about its future.


Salinger by David Shields and Shane Salerno

Based on eight years of exhaustive research and exclusive interviews with more than 200 people  Salinger is a biography of one of the most beloved and mysterious figures of the twentieth century. For more than fifty years, the ever elusive author of The Catcher in the Rye has been the subject of a relentless stream of newspaper and magazine articles as well as several biographies. Yet all of these attempts have been hampered by a fundamental lack of access and by the persistent recycling of inaccurate information. Salinger remains, astonishingly, an enigma. The complex and contradictory human being behind the myth has never been revealed. No longer. In the eight years since Salinger was begun, and especially in the three years since Salinger’s death, the authors interviewed more than 200 people on five continents, many of whom had previously refused to go on the record about their relationship with Salinger. This oral biography offers direct eyewitness accounts from Salinger’s World War II brothers-in-arms, his family members, his close friends, his lovers, his classmates, his neighbors, his editors, his publishers, his New Yorker colleagues, and people with whom he had relationships that were secret even to his own family. Shields and Salerno illuminate most brightly the last fifty-six years of Salinger’s life: a period that, until now, had remained completely dark to biographers. Provided unprecedented access to never-before-published photographs (more than 100 throughout the book), diaries, letters, legal records, and secret documents, readers will feel they have, for the first time, gone beyond Salinger’s meticulously built-up wall. The result is a definitive portrait of one of the most fascinating figures of the twentieth century.

A stupendous work of research…hugely impressive… I predict with the utmost confidence that, after this, the world will not need another Salinger biography.”          Sunday Times

An explosive new biography …Shields and Salerno have pulled off several coups… impressively non-judgmental.”                           Daily Telegraph

A fresh look at J.D. Salinger s triumphant, traumatic, tawdry life [Salinger] presents a decade’s worth of genuinely valuable research.”                         Time

Eloquently written and exhaustively reported …Salinger is an unmitigated success…Shields and Salerno have struck journalistic gold. Salinger is a revelation, and offers the most complete picture of an American icon, a man deified by silence, haunted by war, frustrated in love and more frail and human than he ever wanted the world to know…A startlingly revealing story.”                               USA Today

Revealing …a sharp-edged portrait.”                                    New York Times

David Shields and Shane Salerno crack open the mythos of the reclusive author….Salinger is the thorny, complicated portrait that its thorny, complicated subject deserves…The book offers the most complete rendering yet.”                                            Washington Post



South Africa

SA Politics Unspun by Stephen Grootes

South African politics is a murky, convoluted, complicated world that not many people truly understand. Many of us want (and probably should have) a better idea of how our country works and why it is the way it is, but there is so much political coverage (TV, radio, newspapers, books, online, dinner conversation…) that it’s virtually impossible to get a practical overview of things.

• Who’s our minister of defence?

• How does parliament work?

•What does Trevor Manuel actually do?

• Why’s our department of education in such dire straits and What’s being done about it?

These are important questions that many readers will struggle to answer, but would like to be able to. Equally, they are curious to know whether Juju has any power left, what the freedom charter actually says, and what’s in store at the next elections.

Hence this book: an accessible, easy-to-read guide to SA politics from one of the premier political commentators in the country. The entries are short, punchy and entertaining, with vibrant and innovative design elements, but with enough (excellent) opinion and insight to make it the must-have political read in the run up to Elections 2014. Key elements are the (even-handed) predictions about what different people and organisations should do in the short-, medium- and long-term versus what they are likely to do, as well as the patented Stephen Grootes Power Rating™ which reveal who actually holds the power in South Africa’s political corridors.

My Second Initiation: The Memoir of Vusi Pikoli by Vusi Pikoli and Mandy Wiener

As national director of public prosecutions from 2005 to 2007, Advocate Vusi Pikoli pursued criminal charges against the current president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, and the convicted former national police commissioner, Jackie Selebi. It was his dogged determination to bring the country’s top cop to account that ultimately saw Pikoli removed from office and the subject of a public inquiry into his suspension.
My Second Initiation traces Pikoli’s journey from his first graduation to manhood in the hills of the Eastern Cape, to his second life-shaping experience in the corridors of power in government.
Pikoli has a deeply ingrained loyalty to the Constitution of the country and a keenly developed sense of justice, cultivated on the politically aware streets and rugby fields of New Brighton township. He recounts how he fled with his ANC unit into exile and spent 10 years away from his home and his family, suffering the loss of a child and of a man he considered a brother.
He provides an insider’s perspective on cases that have dominated discussion over the past decade from the Arms Deal and the Scorpions to the Brett Kebble murder, Travelgate, the Special Browse Mole Report and the Hoax E-mail saga. Pikoli reveals how he grappled with the dilemma of prosecuting friends and comrades, how he navigated through repeated attempts at political interference and how he confronted one of his persecutors in a poignant face-to-face encounter.

Taste the World with Jenny Morris

The irrepressible Giggling Gourmet is back! In this brand new recipe book, international celebrity chef Jenny Morris revisits her favourite travel destinations and cooks her way around the world. Her culinary adventure takes her to 13 different countries and, inspired by the people she meets in homely kitchens and local marketplaces along the way, she recreates a feast of mouth-watering, authentic dishes, adding a spoonful of that unmistakable Jenny magic. Using ingredients that are readily available in your local supermarket, Jenny brings a world of flavour to your table. Whether you try the succulent Greek mountain lamb or a fragrant Moroccan beef and prune tangia, or even a fiery bowl of Singapore chilli crab or some comforting Chinese open-top dumplings, Jenny will take your taste buds on a delicious voyage of discovery. Sprinkled with personal anecdotes, and narrated with characteristic sparkle and quirky humour, this collection of over 150 accessible, imaginative recipes captures the culinary essence of each of the countries she visits.

I Fink U Freeky by Roger Ballen and Die Antwoord

With more than 25 million hits and counting since its uploading on YouTube in 2012, ‘I Fink You Freeky’ has brought its director Roger Ballen and its subject, rap group Die Antwoord, into the zeitgeist of young people around the globe. Shot in black and white and featuring imagery, scenes and subjects from Ballen’s stunning photographic work, the video, with its infectious beat and Die Antwoord’s ingenious blend of hip-hop, rap and rave, has been a huge critical success. This book features the brilliant photography that inspired the collaboration between photographer and band and shows how Ballen’s images became part of the finished project. In addition, shots from the filming of the video and of band members in rehearsal and on the set, offer a fascinating glimpse of synergy in the making. Introduced by art critic Ivor Powell, this volume also features an interview between the members of Die Antwood and Roger Ballen. Roger Ballen has developed a unique and penetrating vision over the past forty years of taking photographs. His powerful black and white images, all taken in South Africa, integrate photography with drawing, painting and sculpture. He has received numerous awards for his work and his photographs are collected by some of the most important museums worldwide.

Behind and Beyond the Eiselen Line by Cole

This is an African tale of Cape Town. It tells the ‘lost’ story of 57 women and men from a piece of land on the edge of Crossroads in Nyanga, who came to St George’s Cathedral in March 1982 to fast and seek refuge from a draconian apartheid government intent on denying Africans the right to belong and the right to citizenship, in the Western Cape. Their story, and what happened before and after the fast, is a sober reminder and metaphor of critical social and politicat fault lines and inequalities from the past that continue to haunt Cape Town, the Western Cape and South Africa in the present. Above all the story honours and acknowledges African women and men, who fought long and hard for a sense of place and belonging in Cape Town and those who bore witness and actively fought alongside them for justice and equality in and unjust apartheid time.

Afrikaanse Hoeke

Gewildste Afrikaanse Gedigte

Leserskring het in samewerking met By en RSG hul lede, lesers en luisteraars gevra om vir hul gunstelinggedigte in Afrikaans te stem. Hierdie boek bevat die 100 gewildste gedigte, soos aangewys deur liefhebbers van die digkuns uit alle uithoeke van die land, oud en jonk. Die versameling bevat ’n wye verskeidenheid poësie, deur digters soos Eugène N. Marais, Elisabeth Eybers, Breyten Breytenbach, Antjie Krog, N.P. van Wyk Louw, A.G. Visser, Lina Spies, D.J. Opperman en Adam Small. Dit is ’n onteenseglike bewys dat dié woordkuns steeds ’n plek het in die harte en huise van Suid-Afrikaanse lesers.

‘n Dief aan die kers – skelm woorde deur die eeue deur Anton Prinsloo

Hierdie splinternuwe boek deur dr. Anton F. Prinsloo beskryf hoe die oorspronklike betekenisse van ongeveer 1 000 Afrikaanse woorde metterjare só verander het dat die betekenisse wat ons vandag ken, byna hoegenaamd nie sin maak nie.

So byvoorbeeld het die woord ambisie eeue gelede niks met ’n sterk strewe na sukses en vooruitgang te doen gehad nie. As iemand in daardie eeue ambisie gehad het, het dié persoon soos ’n bedelaar van huis tot huis geloop.

En die betekenis van die Nederlandse dyk was toentertyd allermins dié van “hoë wal by die see om water uit te hou”. Die woord het juis nie na die wal vewys nie, maar na die sloot wat gegrawe is om grond te kry om die wal, wat die land teen die see moes beskerm, mee te bou.

As ons vandag van ’n kandidaat praat, sou ons nie dink dat dit iemand is wat ’n verpligte wit rok sou moes aanhê nie.

Vandag is ’n wurm vir ons ’n klein, kruipende diertjie. Toentertyd kon dié woord na ’n maaier, slang, skerpioen of draak verwys het.

Dié boek verskil van ’n tradisionele boek oor die herkoms van woorde (die etimologie) deurdat dit net woorde behandel waarvan die betekenis erg prettig (en skelm) deur die tyd skeefgetrek is.

Tiny and Pretty

The Design Book by Phaidon

The Design Book is the greatest collection of inspirational product design in one affordable and collectable book. It showcases 500 of the most innovative, beautiful and influential products from the last five centuries that are still in production today. Each entry includes an image and a descriptive caption, providing accessible information about the product, designer, manufacturer and history. The book includes not only classic objects by Breuer, Le Corbusier, Eames, Castiglioni and more, but also anonymously designed pieces, such as the paper clip, the deck chair, and the corkscrew. It is an extraordinary journey through the objects that have shaped our society, from the first attempts to combine function and beauty in the 19th century, through the advent of plastic and other new materials of the 1950s and 60s, right up to the design classics of today.

Two Scientists Tell All…

An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist by Richard Dawkins

Born to parents who were enthusiastic naturalists, and linked through his wider family to a clutch of accomplished scientists, Richard Dawkins was bound to have biology in his genes. But what were the influences that shaped his life and intellectual development? And who inspired him to become the pioneering scientist and public thinker now famous (and infamous to some) around the world?

In An Appetite for Wonder we join him on a personal journey back to an enchanting childhood in colonial Africa. There the exotic natural world was his constant companion. Boarding school in England at the age of eight, and, later, public school at Oundle introduce Dawkins, and the reader, to strange rules and eccentric schoolmasters, vividly described with both humorous affection and some reservation. An initial fervent attachment to Church of England religion soon gives way to disaffection and, later, teenage rebellion. Early signs of a preference for music, poetry and reading over practical matters become apparent as he recalls the opportunities that entered his small world.

Oxford, however, is the catalyst to his life. Vigorous debate in the dynamic Zoology Department unleashes his innate intellectual curiosity, and inspirational mentors together with his own creative thinking ignite the spark that results in his radical new vision of Darwinism, The Selfish Gene.

From innocent child to charismatic world-famous scientist, Richard Dawkins paints a colourful, richly textured canvas of his early life. Honest self-reflection and witty anecdotes are interspersed with touching reminiscences of his family and friends, literature, poetry and songs. We are finally able to understand the private influences that shaped the public man who, more than anyone else in his generation, explained our own origins.

Most geeks cannot write; this one can…Equipped with an undoubted gift for expression, Dawkins the writer comes with a unique pedigree”                             Richard Fortey Guardian

The Richard Dawkins that emerges here is a far cry from the strident, abrasive caricature beloved of lazy journalists with an op-ed piece to file. There is no score-settling, but a generous appreciation and admiration of the qualities of others, as well as a transparent love of life, literature – and science.”                            Independent on Sunday

Dawkins is a fascinating man and as a writer he is nothing less than essential…he is a man who has influenced or changed the way people think. His story needs to be read.”                            The Times)

Affirmative nostalgia suits [Dawkins], and so does the good humour that imbues his writing about home… The voice is familiar but the tone is new, and the result is some of his most pleasing prose… The clarity and passion with which he recalls his childhood is matched by the clarity, passion, concerns and imagery – fairness, bullying, kindness to animals – with which he expresses the values he has maintained since then…An Appetite for Wonder speaks eloquently about where his values and preoccupations came from…Warmly illuminating about the making of Dawkins the humanist.”                       Independent

My Brief History by Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking has dazzled readers worldwide with a string of bestsellers exploring the mysteries of the universe. Now, for the first time, the most brilliant cosmologist of our age turns his gaze inwards for a revealing look at his own life and intellectual evolution.

My Brief History recounts Stephen Hawking’s improbable journey, from his post-war London boyhood to his years of international acclaim and celebrity. Lavishly illustrated with rarely seen photographs, this concise, witty and candid account introduces readers to a Hawking rarely glimpsed in previous books: the inquisitive schoolboy whose classmates nicknamed him ‘Einstein’; the jokester who once placed a bet with a colleague over the existence of a black hole; and the young husband and father struggling to gain a foothold in the world of academia.

Writing with characteristic humility and humour, Hawking opens up about the challenges that confronted him following his diagnosis of motor neurone disease aged twenty-one. Tracing his development as a thinker, he explains how the prospect of an early death urged him onwards through numerous intellectual breakthroughs, and talks about the genesis of his masterpiece A Brief History of Time – one of the iconic books of the twentieth century.

Clear-eyed, intimate and wise, My Brief History opens a window for the rest of us into Hawking’s personal cosmos.

Hawking writes movingly… we hear his voice radiating directly from the black hole of his motor neuron disease, without the amplification and elaboration supplied by the co-authors with whom he wrote his last few books”                                   Financial Times

Powerful…[his] brevity makes for a bold picture.”                                          Guardian

For the Young of All Ages

Goth Girl & the Ghost of a Mouse by Christopher Riddell

Ada Goth is the only child of Lord Goth. The two live together in the enormous Ghastly-Gorm Hall. Lord Goth believes that children should be heard and not seen, so Ada has to wear large clumpy boots so that he can always hear her coming. This makes it hard for her to make friends and, if she’s honest, she’s rather lonely. Then one day William and Emily Cabbage come to stay at the house, and together with a ghostly mouse called Ishmael they and Ada begin to unravel a dastardly plot that Maltravers, the mysterious indoor gamekeeper, is hatching. Ada and her friends must work together to foil Maltravers before it’s too late!

Happy Reading!

Launch of The Blacks of Cape Town by Carol-Ann Davids in conversation with Henrietta Rose-Innes (at the District 6 Museum)

Saturday, October 26th 2013 at 5:30 PM

blacks of cape townThe Blacks of Cape Town weaves a narrative that shifts between past and present and contemporary South African and American politics to examine betrayal and displacement: Historian, Zara Black, is in an unfamiliar room in a country far from home, when she is awoken by music that evokes memories she has been trying to forget. It is this call from her father, seemingly from beyond the grave, that finally pushes Zara to accept that it falls to her to understand the occurrences that forced her away from Cape Town and into a scholarly position that she does not entirely want, at a North American University. The USA, caught up in an election of a new and historic president, offers its challenges as Zara Black traces the fault lines of her family from the Kimberly diamond mines to contemporary South Africa – a place which Zara feels increasingly isolated from; its politics leaving her perturbed.

The Blacks of Cape Town feels like something new in scope and focus. In many ways, it is a breakthrough into previously forbidden territory. A brave, understated exploration of an uncomfortable reality.
– Professor Kelwyn Sole, University of Cape Town.

Narratively ambitious and stylistically supple, The Blacks of Cape Town revisits the large themes of South African literature with originality and flair”.
– Professor Isabel Hofmeyr, University of the Witwatersrand

C.A. Davids works as a writer and editor, and lives between Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa. Her fiction has appeared in Twist; Anthology of short stories by South African women (published by Struik, October 2006) and in African Pens: New Writing from Southern Africa (published by New Africa Books, April 2007). She has lived in Switzerland, the United States of America and Shanghai, China. She has an MA in Creative Writing from UCT.

Please note that this event will take place at the District 6 Museum


Story Time Says Boo!

Saturday, October 26th 2013 at 11:00 AM

booThe end of October always bring Halloween and pumpkins and candy. There are all kinds of stories and legends around Halloween, but we just take it as a time to read some scary stories. Not too scary though, and we will keep the lights on.

Join us for a scary story time and see where the ghosties live!



Launch of Nobody Will Ever Kill Me by Mbu Maloni

Thursday, October 24th 2013 at 5:30 PM

Nobody will ever kill me‘My name Mbu is a short version of Mbuyiseli, which in isiXhosa means something like “the one who returns something”. I once asked my mom why she gave me this name. She said: “I never got anything from life; I hope to get something back from my children one day … maybe from you.”’

In this moving and gripping tale of his life, Mbu recounts his childhood growing up in the shacks of some of the poorest townships in the Eastern and Western Cape; the battle to survive hunger, neglect and sleeping on the streets; the beloved older brother who took care of him as a toddler; the unwavering dream of education that kept him going; and the search for values and dignity in a world of alcohol, drugs, crime and few positive role models.

Mbu’s story is the story of countless other young men and women in South Africa, born into similar situations of hardship, growing up abandoned or neglected by parents themselves in need of parenting. What makes his story different is that it is a journey not of despair but transformation, lit by the kindness of friends and strangers, and Mbu’s own determination not to stop hoping for a better life.

Mbu Maloni lives in HOKISA Children’s Home, in Masiphumelele Township, Cape Town South Africa. He is currently in Grade 11, and plans to matriculate next year. This book is dedicated to a dear friend of his and serves to provide hope for the many ‘street children’ out there who, if they believe strongly enough in something positive, can achieve more than they are often led to believe.

Lutz van Dijk is an internationally acclaimed writer, who, amongst other books, has published the bestseller “Stronger than the Storm”, the novels “Romeo and Jabulile” and “Themba” (made into a movie in 2010) and “A History of Africa” (preface by Archbishop Tutu).


Bekendstelling van Spoorvat saamgestel deur Riana Scheepers en Leti Kleyn

Tuesday, October 22nd 2013 at 5:30 PM

SpoorvatAs skrywers het hulle reeds naam gemaak; hulle het literêre pryse gewen, die harte van lesers verower, diep spore getrap in die Afrikaanse kultuurwêreld … Ons ken hulle as openbare figure, as skeppers van verhale en romans en rubrieke, maar wat is die intiemste, mooiste en selfs pynlikste jeugherinneringe van ons bekendste Afrikaanse skrywers? Was hulle as kinders reeds sensitiewe waarnemers, kunstenaars in wording? Hoe het hulle hul jeug beleef? En hoe word hierdie jeugherinneringe verwerk in hul tekste as gesofistikeerde skrywers?
Riana Scheepers en Leti Kleyn (samestellers van die trefferboek Die Afrikaanse skryfgids) het skrywers gevra om hul kinder- of jeugervarings te woord te stel. Daar was geen beperkings of voorskrifte nie, maar slegs gepubliseerde skrywers is om bydraes gevra. Die resultaat is ’n unieke bloemlesing van 36 skrywers met die evokatiewe titel Spoorvat. Saam met ons skrywers vat ons die spoor terug na die verlede; ’n verlede wat net so kleurvol, vrolik, hartseer, innig en uiteenlopend is soos die mense van hierdie land.

Spoorvat is ’n belangrike bloemlesing, nie net omdat dit voortreflike tekste bevat van skrywers wat reeds hul kleim afgesteek het nie, maar omdat dit terselfdertyd ook unieke outobiografiese sketse is. Die leser kry ’n intieme en eerlike blik op die leefwêreld van ’n jong kind wat later in sy/haar lewe groot hoogtes bereik het. Spoorvat is gekies as deel van die 2013 ATKV-gratisboekprojek en sal wye blootstelling o.a. deur die Taalgenoot ontvang.

Die skrywers
Margaret Bakkes, Andries Bezuidenhout, Zandra Bezuidenhout, M.C. Botha, Douwleen Bredenhann, Cecile Celliers, Clinton V. du Plessis, Hans du Plessis, Heilna du Plooy, Louis Esterhuizen, Jeanette Ferreira, Rita Gilfillan, Rachelle Greeff, Helena Gunter, Joan Hambidge, Marié Heese, Jaco Jacobs, Louis Jansen van Vuuren, Irma Joubert, Marlise Joubert, Connie Luyt, Maretha Maartens, Henning Pieterse, Renée Rautenbach, Myra Scheepers, Riana Scheepers, Dana Snyman, Piet Steyn, Keina Swart, Marita van der Vyver, Leon van Nierop, Jan van Tonder, Wium van Zyl, Fanie Viljoen, Ingrid Winterbach

Die samestellers
Riana Scheepers is een van die veelsydigste skrywers in Afrikaans. Uit haar pen het agt kortverhaalbundels, twee romans, ’n digbundel, twee rubriekbundels, kinderverhale en verskeie akademiese en joernalistieke artikels verskyn. Sy is ook samesteller van vyf bloemlesings wat in Suid-Afrika en in België verskyn het. Haar literêre werk is vertaal in Nederlands, Spaans, Frans en Engels. Sy is reeds bekroon met die Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns se Eugène Marais-prys, die ATKV-Prosaprys, die FAK-prys en die ATKV-Kinderboekprys. Riana woon op die historiese wynplaas De Compagnie in die Wamakersvallei. Sy is bedags plaasbestuurder en snags skrywer. Sy woon ook op Paternoster in ’n visserhuis, in Namibië in ’n spookhuis en in ’n kliphuis in die Tankwa-Karoo.

Leti Kleyn is ’n dosent in Kreatiewe Skryfkuns en Akademiese Geletterdheid aan die Universiteit van Pretoria, maar is ook aktief in die Suid-Afrikaanse uitgewersbedryf. Sy het reeds heelwat artikels gepubliseer in akademiese publikasies, maar ook leefstylartikels vir koerante en tydskrifte soos Beeld en Rapport. Sy het in 2012 as samesteller opgetree saam met Riana Scheepers vir die publikasie Die Afrikaanse skryfgids, uitgegee deur Penguin.

As writers they’ve already made a name for themselves; they’ve won literary prizes, conquered the hearts of readers, left their mark on the Afrikaans cultural world … We know them as public figures, as creators of stories and novels and columns, but what are the most intimate, most beautiful and even most painful childhood memories of our most famous Afrikaans writers? As children, were they already sensitive observers, wannabe artists? How did they experience their youth? And as sophisticated writers, how do they process these youthful memories in their texts?

Riana Scheepers and Leti Kleyn (compilers of the hit Die Afrikaanse skryfgids) have asked writers to pen down the memories of their childhood or youth. There were no limits or prescriptions, but only published writers were invited to contribute. The result is a unique anthology of 36 writers with the evocative title Spoorvat. Together with our writers we retrace the tracks back into the past, a past that is just as colourful, happy, sad, earnest and diverse as the people of this country.

Spoorvat is an important anthology, not just because it contains excellent texts by writers that have already pitched their claim, but because these are also unique autobiographical sketches. The reader gets an intimate and honest look at the world of a young child who would reach great heights later in his/her life. Spoorvat has been selected as part of the 2013 ATKV Free Book Project and will enjoy wide coverage by the Taalgenoot, amongst others.

The writers
Margaret Bakkes, Andries Bezuidenhout, Zandra Bezuidenhout, M.C. Botha, Douwleen Bredenhann, Cecile Celliers, Clinton V. du Plessis, Hans du Plessis, Heilna du Plooy, Louis Esterhuizen, Jeanette Ferreira, Rita Gilfillan, Rachelle Greeff, Helena Gunter, Joan Hambidge, Marié Heese, Jaco Jacobs, Louis Jansen van Vuuren, Irma Joubert, Marlise Joubert, Connie Luyt, Maretha Maartens, Henning Pieterse, Renée Rautenbach, Myra Scheepers, Riana Scheepers, Dana Snyman, Piet Steyn, Keina Swart, Marita van der Vyver, Leon van Nierop, Jan van Tonder, Wium van Zyl, Fanie Viljoen, Ingrid Winterbach

The compilers
Riana Scheepers is one of the most versatile writers in Afrikaans. She has published no fewer than eight short-story anthologies, two novels, a book of poetry, two collections of columns, children’s stories and several academic and journalistic articles. She is also the compiler of five anthologies published in South Africa and Belgium. Her literary work has been translated into Dutch, Spanish, French and English. She has been capped with the Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns’s Eugène Marais Prize, the ATKV Prose Prize, the FAK Prize and the ATKV Children’s Book Prize. Riana lives on the historical wine farm De Compagnie in the Wamakers Valley. During daytime she is a farm manager, and at night a writer. She also lives in a fisherman’s cottage in Paternoster, in a ghost house in Namibia and in a stone cottage in the Tankwa Karoo.

Leti Kleyn is a lecturer in Creative Writing and Academic Literacy at the University of Pretoria, but is also active in the South African publishing industry. She has published many articles in academic publications, but also lifestyle articles for newspapers and magazines such as Beeld and Rapport. In 2012 she acted as compiler, together with Riana Scheepers, of Die Afrikaanse skryfgids, published by Penguin.


Zakes Mda at The Fugard with his latest novel

Monday, October 21st 2013 at 6:30 PM

Zakes Mda Fugard Theatre


Gallop Story Time

Saturday, October 19th 2013 at 11:00 AM

Today we will read stories about horses, ponies and even donkeys, animals that gallop on farms and in the field.  Some of you might even be lucky enough to have gone horseriding or been able to feed the ponies or  seen the police who patrol the city on horseback!

Join us for a galloping story time and craft morning.