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Launch of After Freedom by Katherine S. Newman & Ariane De Lannoy

Wednesday, April 30th 2014 at 5:30 PM

After Freedom Invite


Launch of Chester Missing’s Guide to the Elections ’14

Tuesday, April 29th 2014 at 5:30 PM


Archbishop Desmond Tutu & Reverend Mpho Tutu at St George’s Cathedral

Tuesday, April 29th 2014 at 5:30 PM

Invitation_The Book of Forgiving.jpg


Please note!

Tuesday, April 29th 2014 at 4:05 PM

We will be closed this Friday 2nd May, from 11am-3pm for a film shoot.

Apologies for any inconvenience.

Boo! said the Monster Story Time

Saturday, April 26th 2014 at 11:00 AM

monsterMonsters monsters! Under the bed, in the cupboard, in the bath, where are always looking for them, some are big and have lots of teeth, some are skinny and smell bad…

We are often scared of monsters, but who knows, they might be scared of us too!

Today we will read some stories about these creatures who lurk in the dark corners…

Then we will help you make monster masks so you can also scare the baddies away!


Food Jam for Library Project

Friday, April 25th 2014 at 6:30 PM

birdWe have had two Food Jams so far the lovely and talented Jade de Waal to help raise money and awareness for our Library Project. The next one will be on Friday, 25 April at 18.30 at the gorgeous home of the De Waal family, in Tamboerskloof. Do come along and marvel in the experience of making a meal together. We have watched strangers become friends over bowls of handmade food over the last few weeks and also seen how big their hearts are as they get involved in the Library Project.

There will be a pop-up store with tasty cookbooks to treat yourself with, books to buy for the Library and some handmade aprons (all proceeds to go the Library too).

Please RSVP to to book your space for this magical night.


April 2014

Thursday, April 24th 2014 at 6:11 PM

Book of the Month

We are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler

Rosemary’s young, just at college, and she’s decided not to tell anyone a thing about her family. So we’re not going to tell you too much either: you’ll have to find out for yourselves what it is that makes her unhappy family unlike any other.

Rosemary is now an only child, but she used to have a sister the same age as her, and an older brother. Both are now gone – vanished from her life. There’s something unique about Rosemary’s sister, Fern. So now she’s telling her story; a looping narrative that begins towards the end, and then goes back to the beginning. Twice.

It’s funny, clever, intimate, honest, analytical and swirling with ideas that will come back to bite you. We hope you enjoy it, and if, when you’re telling a friend about it, you do decide to spill the beans about Fern, don’t feel bad. It’s pretty hard to resist.

A novel so readably juicy and surreptitiously smart, it deserves all the attention it can get.”                        Barbara Kingsolver New York Times Book Review

A dark cautionary tale hanging out, incognito-style, in what at first seems a traditional family narrative. It is anything but.”                      Alice Sebold

Fowler has given us the gift of a splendid novel. Not only is the story fascinating, moving, and beautifully written, but also it ripples with humor; its quirky characters include a puppet named Madame Defarge and a Seinfeldian assortment of apartment dwellers. Layered with a huge moral compass and enormous humanity, this portrait of a family one-fifth simian will, nevertheless, touch and delight every human.”                         Boston Globe

“We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is that rare thing, a comic novel that wrestles seriously with serious moral questions … Fowler knows how to make her story funny and sad and disturbing and revelatory by erecting a space in which her reader is allowed to feel all of that for herself.”                           Salon

Karen Joy Fowler has written the book she’s always had in her to write…She has told the story of an American family. An unusual family-but aren’t all families unusual? A very American, an only-in-America family-and yet an everywhere family, whose children, parents, siblings, love one another very much, and damage one another badly. Does the love survive the damage? Will human beings survive the damage they do to the world they love so much? This is a strong, deep, sweet novel.”                  Ursula K Le Guin

It’s been years since I’ve felt so passionate about a book. When I finished at 3 a.m., I wept, then I woke up the next morning, reread the ending, and cried all over again.”                    Ruth Ozeki

One of the greatest pleasures I take in reading is being able to hand over the books that thrill me, which this summer would be Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves.”                 Ann Patchett, Wall Street Journal

A gripping and surreptitiously intelligent book about a family’s falling apart after a young daughter is sent away. Who – or what – the young daughter is can’t be discussed without revealing a major spoiler, suffice it to say it is a whopper. The book is far deeper and more ambitious, however, than its central conceit would lead one to think.”                     Khaled Hosseini

Intelligent…and forces the reader to question what we owe our fellow creatures.”                          Elizabeth George

This surreptitiously smart novel’s big reveal slyly recalls a tabloid headline.”                       New York Times – Notable Books 2013

Spectacular, deep, zingy … Simultaneously a high-speed antic and an absolutely essential meditation on nothing less than what it means to be a good person … I gasped aloud and put this book down more than once, filled with ache and worry for the characters; I laughed aloud several times; and when it was done, the big questions it raised about kindness, empathy, and cruelty lingered with me and show no signs of fading…It’s one thing to write a deep book. It’s another altogether to write a deep book that clips along like a pop song, one that periodically skewers you on events and questions that pin you to the world and demand that you confront things that we’ve all carefully avoided for most of our lives.”              Cory Doctorow


The Undertaking by Audrey Magee

Desperate to escape the Eastern front, Peter Faber, an ordinary German soldier, marries Katharina Spinell, a woman he has never met; it is a marriage of convenience that promises ‘honeymoon’ leave for him and a pension for her should he die on the front. With ten days’ leave secured, Peter visits his new wife in Berlin; both are surprised by the attraction that develops between them. When Peter returns to the horror of the front, it is only the dream of Katharina that sustains him as he approaches Stalingrad. Back in Berlin, Katharina, goaded on by her desperate and delusional parents, ruthlessly works her way into the Nazi party hierarchy, wedding herself, her young husband and their unborn child to the regime. But when the tide of war turns and Berlin falls, Peter and Katharina, ordinary people stained with their small share of an extraordinary guilt, find their simple dream of family increasingly hard to hold on to…

Brutal but brilliant…Full of heart-pounding suspense… Magee offers an insight both into the deprivation experienced by ordinary soldiers and the excesses of those in power… An impressive, even stunning debut,”                       Sunday Times

An engaging and beautifully written novel, with an emotional resonance that remains long after you ve closed the book. It succeeds in doing what only the best historical novels can do making the past feel present.”                        Independent

A feat of high-wire empathy.”            Observer

Absorbing… The Undertaking is immensely readable and serves as a poignant reminder of the ferocious struggle for Stalingrad and its aftermath.”                   Independent on Sunday

A violent, elegant, unsentimental journey through hell and halfway back. This is an outstanding novel by a writer of huge talent and unusual candour.”                    Chris Cleave

“The Undertaking is written with sympathy and skill. The narrative is tense and engaging, filled with complex undertones, impelled by an urgency and a deep involvement with the characters.”                    Colm Tóibín

All that Is Solid Melts into Air by Darrah McKeon

All That is Solid Melts into Air by Darragh McKeon is an exceptionally moving novel of interwoven lives, set amidst one of the most iconic disasters in living memory.

Russia, 1986. In a run-down apartment block in Moscow, a nine-year-old piano prodigy practices silently for fear of disturbing the neighbours. In a factory on the outskirts of the city, his aunt makes car parts, trying to hide her dissident past. In the hospital, a surgeon immerses himself in his work to avoid facing his failed marriage. And in a rural village in Belarus, a teenage boy wakes up to a sky of the deepest crimson. Outside, the ears of his neighbour’s cattle are dripping blood. Ten miles away, at the Chernobyl Power Plant, something unimaginable has happened. Now their lives will change forever.

All That is Solid Melts into Air is an astonishing novel of terrifying beauty that captures the end of an era.

This daring and ambitious novel blends historical epic and love story with a moving description of the Chernobyl disaster and the fall of the Soviet Union. A book rich with resonance far beyond its historical moment.”                  Colm Tóibín

Brilliantly imagined, exhilarating in its sweep; McKeon creates a thrilling appearance of ease, while he delves deep and forges new territory for the contemporary novel. Daring, generous and beautifully written, All That is Solid Melts into Air marks the beginning of a truly significant career. I cannot say it loud enough: McKeon is here to stay.”                   Colum McCann

Powerful and moving … a supremely accomplished social novel … What makes McKeon’s vision so compelling is that the system this novel describes is not merely Russian, nor communist, but universal.”                            John Burnside, Guardian

His description of the explosion at the Ukrainian nuclear plant is a stylistic high point … recalls Don DeLillo’s Underworld …disturbing …convincing … a tense denouement.”                          Independent

An outstanding debut novel … portraying inconceivable horrors and acts of incredible beauty in luminously understated prose … McKeon makes us care … skilfully drawing us into their worlds before and after the explosion … devastating.”                  Metro

Arctic Summer by Damon Galgut

In 1912, the SS Birmingham approaches India. On board is Morgan Forster, novelist and man of letters, who is embarking on a journey of discovery. As Morgan stands on deck, the promise of a strange new future begins to take shape before his eyes. The seeds of a story start to gather at the corner of his mind: a sense of impending menace, lust in close confines, under a hot, empty sky. It will be another twelve years, and a second time spent in India, before A Passage to India, E. M. Forster’s great work of literature, is published. During these years, Morgan will come to a profound understanding of himself as a man, and of the infinite subtleties and complexity of human nature, bringing these great insights to bear in his remarkable novel. At once a fictional exploration of the life and times of one of Britain’s finest novelists, his struggle to find a way of living and being, and a stunningly vivid evocation of the mysterious alchemy of the creative process, Arctic Summer is a literary masterpiece, by one of the finest writers of his generation.

Galgut is extremely good on Forster’s anxieties, his loneliness, his unworldliness…The portrait is beautifully nuanced, a mixture of bold, colourful strokes and delicate little flicks of the brush. “                 Sunday Times

With insight and seemingly effortless fluidity, Mr Galgut has written a beautiful, and at times funny, novel that movingly captures the duality of one of Britain’s most thoughtful authors.”                            Economist

“It is a project to which Galgut, whose fiction has often covered the terrain of love, race and politics, seems perfectly suited as a writer… A remarkable, lyrical tribute.”                           Guardian

Galgut has so seamlessly incorporated Forster’s diaries, letters and novels into his narrative that it is often hard to tell which novelist is which.”                               Daily Telegraph

Bark by Lorrie Moore

In these eight masterful stories, Lorrie Moore, explores the passage of time, and summons up its inevitable sorrows and comic pitfalls.

In ‘Debarking’, a newly divorced man tries to keep his wits about him as the US prepares to invade Iraq. In ‘Foes’, a political argument goes grotesquely awry as the events of 9/11 unexpectedly manifest at a fundraising dinner in Georgetown. In ‘The Juniper Tree’, a teacher, visited by the ghost of her recently deceased friend, is forced to sing ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ in a kind of nightmare reunion. And in ‘Wings’, we watch the unraveling of two once-hopeful musicians, who neither held fast to their dreams, nor struck out along other paths.

Gimlet-eyed social observation, the public and private absurdities of American life, dramatic irony, and enduring half-cracked love wend their way through each of these narratives, in Moore’s characteristic style that is always tender, never sentimental and often heartbreakingly funny.

Moore is one of the world’s great artists of the short story … Perfection.”         The Times

Bark is a collection of taut, coherent, breathtaking enchantments which – looked at individually and taken together – remind us how only fiction has the real ability to re-create the world, to slant the light and make us see ourselves, and everything around us, as if for the very first time … Reading these stories is an intense, disquieting, exhilarating experience … Find a straight half-hour. Find an hour, or even two. You will be richly rewarded.”                        Erica Wagner, Financial Times

London, Cape Town, Johannesburg by Zukiswa Wanner

I would’ve been able to live like this if Zuko hadn’t been born . . . London was good. Is good. I love London. But …


 The world is about to change. The first truly democratic election in South Africa’s history is about to unite Nelson Mandela’s rainbow nation at the ballot box. And, across the world, those in exile, those who could not return home, those who would not return home, wait. Watch and wait . . .


 Martin O’Malley isn’t one of those watching and waiting. He is too busy trying to figure out if Germaine Spencer really is the girl for him and why his best friend is intent on ruining every relationship he gets involved in. And then . . . And then Germaine is pregnant and suddenly the world really has changed for Martin O’Malley.

South Africa

A land of opportunity. A place where a young black man with an MSc from the London School of Economics could have it all, would have it all. But what does Martin O’Malley, London born and bred with an Irish surname, really know about his mother’s country? His motherland. A land he has never seen.

The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt

Artist Harriet Burden, consumed by fury at the lack of recognition she has received from the New York art establishment, embarks on an experiment: she hides her identity behind three male fronts who exhibit her work as their own. And yet, even after she has unmasked herself, there are those who refuse to believe she is the woman behind the men.

Presented as a collection of texts compiled by a scholar years after Burden’s death, the story unfolds through extracts from her notebooks, reviews and articles, as well as testimonies from her children, her lover, a dear friend, and others more distantly connected to her. Each account is different, however, and the mysteries multiply. One thing is clear: Burden’s involvement with the last of her ‘masks’ turned into a dangerous psychological game that ended with the man’s bizarre death.

This is a polyphonic tour de force from the internationally acclaimed author of What I Loved, an intricately conceived, diabolical puzzle that explores the way prejudice, fame, money and desire influence our perceptions of one another. Emotionally intense, intellectually rigorous, ironic and playful, The Blazing World is as gripping as it is thought-provoking.

I have told nearly everyone I love – and some random acquaintances – to stop whatever they are doing and read [Hustvedt’s] new novel …The Blazing World is the playful, ebullient, brainy story of Harriet “Harry” Burden, an artist in her early sixties…The book is clearly a feminist undertaking but joyously, unpredictably so. Hustvedt eschews all feminist cliché. She throws herself into rich ambiguities…Hustvedt’s novels have always been smart, accomplished, critically acclaimed but this one feels like a departure. There is more heat in it, more wildness; it seems to burst on to a whole other level of achievement and grace…the book will blaze through the world. “                              Financial Times

Harry is a lovable, maddening whirlwind…The fury is brilliantly done, and so is the love affair Harry embarks on with a fat failed poet… Hustvedt writes with a cool precision that can give her work a blistering power…The Blazing World is a dazzling novel, the kind that makes you cry (or nearly cry) as well as think.”                          Sunday Times

“The Blazing World is a profound and deeply serious book on many levels, but it is most entertaining in its critique of the New York art scene – its vanities, double standards, blind-spots . . . [A novel of] immense soulfulness and wisdom .”                        Independent

It is an exuberantly clever piece of work. Fascinated by disguise, play-acting and ventriloquism, it lures its readers into a maze of characters, viewpoints and apparently persuasive arguments – then insists, refreshingly, that they think their way out…There’s a central mystery to unravel in The Blazing World, but its real pleasures come from Hustvedt’s startling talent for voice and register…the narrative becomes a brilliant catfight of dogmas and orthodoxies…a novel that gloriously lives up to its title, one blazing with energy and thought.”                                      The Times

Both intellectually and emotionally gripping…the generosity of the storytelling leads to full and often affecting backstories for all the main characters…[it] feels like one of those novels in which a well-established author triumphantly sums up, and possibly even surpasses, everything they’ve done before.”                                                           Spectator

How to Fight Islamist Terror from the Missionary Position by Tabish Khair


A young Pakistani academic relives his days sharing a cramped apartment in Aarhus, Denmark, with two unlikely bedfellows. They are Ravi, his incorrigible best friend and a wry observer of the human condition; and Karim, their fundamentalist Muslim landlord, whose apparent double life soon intrigues his tenants.

While Ravi finds his jaded world outlook challenged when he falls for an unlikely Danish girl, and our narrator embarks upon a complicated love affair of his own, Karim’s bizarre and secretive behaviour leads to creeping suspicions that something might, indeed, be rotten in the state of Denmark . . .

By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, How to Fight Islamist Terror from the Missionary Position is a sparkling account of strangers in strange lands, told with wit and humanity.

Smart, funny and wonderfully irreverent.”        Mohsin Hamid, author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

A gripping debut psychological crime novel about family lies and dark secrets in an isolated community as a series of women go missing.

People still whisper about Lucy Dane’s mother who vanished years ago from the town of Henbane, deep in the Ozark mountains.

When one of Lucy’s friends is found murdered, Lucy feels haunted by the two lost women: by the mother she never knew, and the friend she couldn’t protect.

But her search for answers, in a place where secrets are easily concealed, leads her to a chilling discovery.

And with this revelation, she must grapple with the meaning of family, the secrets we keep, and the lengths we will go to protect the ones we love.

A fantastic novel rich in character and atmosphere. This is one you won’t want to miss.”                             Karin Slaughter

I was bewitched by the enchanting Ozark landscape and the haunting murder mystery at the heart of McHugh’s masterful debut. The Weight of Blood is the kind of novel that leaves the reader wanting more. I can’t wait to read what’s next from this gifted new writer.”                  Amy Greene, author of Bloodroot

An elegant time-bomb of a novel, a coming-of-age story that holds you captive from the first sentence as McHugh skillfully tips the scales back and forth in this mesmeric mystery where two generations of women struggle to find a balance between loyalty to family and self preservation, with dire consequences. A thrilling debut!”                         Tracy Guzeman, author of The Gravity of Birds

Panic by Lauren Oliver

An utterly gripping thriller from bestselling author Lauren Oliver. Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a poor town of twelve thousand people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do. Heather never thought she would compete in panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought. Dodge has never been afraid of panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game; he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for. For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them-and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most. In this gritty, spellbinding novel, bestselling author Lauren Oliver delivers a gripping narrative of friendship, courage, survival, and hope.

The Investigation by Jung-myung Lee

Fukuoka Prison, 1944. Beyond the prison walls the war rages; inside a man is found brutally murdered.

Yuichi Watanabe, a young guard with a passion for reading, is ordered to investigate. The victim, Sugiyama – also a guard – was feared and despised throughout the prison and inquiries have barely begun when a powerful inmate confesses. But Watanabe is unconvinced; and as he interrogates both the suspect and Yun Dong-ju, a talented Korean poet, he begins to realise that the fearsome guard was not all he appeared to be . . .

As Watanabe unravels Sugiyama’s final months, he begins to discover what is really going on inside this dark and violent institution, which few inmates survive: a man who will stop at nothing to dig his way to freedom; a governor whose greed knows no limits; a little girl whose kite finds her an unlikely friend. And Yun Dong-ju – the poet whose works hold such beauty they can break the hardest of hearts.

As the war moves towards its devastating close and bombs rain down upon the prison, Watanabe realises that he must find a way to protect Yun Dong-ju, no matter what it takes. This decision will lead the young guard back to the investigation – where he will discover a devastating truth . . .

At once a captivating mystery and an epic lament for lost freedom and humanity in the darkest of times,

Inspired by the work of Yun Dong-ju, the dissident Korean writer who died in Fukuoka in 1945, this is a heart-wrenching novel with many unexpected twists.”                     Sunday Times

Not just a whodunnit that provides the relief of a clear resolution. The book also tells the story of Japan’s wartime history and is inspired by the real-life jailed Korean poet and dissident Yun Dong-ju, whose work is quoted throughout…a gripping book.”                  Financial Times)

I was gripped by The Investigation. It came at me from nowhere and consumed me. It’s a thriller, and a war story, and so much more besides. I tore through the last 100 pages, my heart literally racing at times. An intense, captivating achievement, inspired by reality.”                             Matt Haig, author of The Humans and The Radleys

Astragal by Albertine Sarrazin

 My Albertine, how I adored her! Her luminous eyes led me through the darkness of my youth. She was my guide through the nights of one hundred sleeps. And now she is yours.”                              Patti Smith

 At the age of twenty-one, a sad and hungry Patti Smith walked into a bookshop in Greenwich Village and decided to spend her last 99 cents on a novel that would change her life forever. The book was Astragal, by Albertine Sarrazin. Sarrazin was an enigmatic outsider who had spent time in jail and who wrote only two novels and a book of poems in her short life – she died the year before Patti found her book, at the age of twenty-nine.

Astragal tells the story of Anne, a young woman who breaks her ankle in a daring escape from prison. She makes it to a highway where she’s picked up by a motorcyclist, Julien, who’s also on the run. As they travel through nights and days together, they fall in love and must do whatever they can to survive, living their lives always on the edge of danger. A bewitching and timeless novel of youthful rebellion and romance, this new edition of Patsy Southgate’s original translation includes an introduction by Patti Smith.

The Haunted Life by Jack Kerouac

In 1944, twenty-two year old Jack Kerouac lost a novella-length manuscript called The Haunted Life. It turned up thirteen years later in a Columbia University dormitory, and then in 2002, at a Sotheby’s auction house. Now, 70 years after Kerouac wrote it, his second novel is published for the first time.

The Haunted Life is the coming-of-age story of Peter Martin, a college track star determined to idle away what he knows will be one of his last innocent summers in his tranquil New England home town. But with the war escalating in Europe and his two closest friends both plotting their escapes, he realises how sheltered his upbringing has been. As he surveys the competing influences of his youth, he struggles to determine what might lead to an intellectually authentic life.

The Haunted Life is ultimately a meditation on intellectual truth, male friendship and the desire for movement – all themes that would dominate Kerouac’s later work.


The Flashboys by Michael Lewis

If you thought Wall Street was about alpha males standing in trading pits hollering at each other, think again. That world is dead.

Now, the world’s money is traded by computer code, inside black boxes in heavily guarded buildings. Even the experts entrusted with your cash don’t know what’s happening to it. And the very few who do aren’t about to tell – because they’re making a killing.

This is a market that’s rigged, out of control and out of sight; a market in which the chief need is for speed; and in which traders would sell their grandmothers for a microsecond – blink, and you’ll miss it.

In Flash Boys, Michael Lewis tells the explosive story of how one group of ingenious oddballs and misfits set out to expose what was going on. It’s the story of what it’s like to declare war on some of the richest and most powerful people in the world. It’s about taking on an entire system. And it’s about the madness that has taken hold of the financial markets today.

You won’t believe it until you’ve read it.

I read Michael Lewis for the same reasons I watch Tiger Woods. I’ll never play like that. But it’s good to be reminded every now and again what genius looks like.”                 Malcolm Gladwell

Probably the best current writer in America.”                   Tom Wolfe

 “Dazzling… guaranteed to make blood boil… riveting.”                  New York Times

This book has the potential to spark a cultural uprising…More than five years on from the Lehman collapse, Lewis has lit the touch paper on the mother of all debates about Wall Street and global finance.”                                       Spectator

When the stories of our times are told, there will be no more seminal documents than the books of Michael Lewis.”                                        Guardian

“Flash Boys is remarkable for its moral outrage as it reveals how high-frequency traders have hoodwinked both investors and the public …He is that rare beast: an insider who writes lucid, jargon-free prose and who never loses track of his ultimate responsibility to the story.”                        Daily Telegraph

Remarkable…Michael Lewis has a spellbinding talent for finding emotional dramas in complex, highly technical subjects.”                                Financial Times

Sonic Wonderland: A Scientific Odyssey of Sound by Trevor Cox

As an acoustic engineer, Trevor Cox has spent his career eradicating unwanted noises – echoes in concert halls, clamour in classrooms. Until the day he heard something so astonishing that he had an epiphany: rather than quashing rare or bizarre sounds, we should be celebrating these sonic treasures.

This is the story of his investigation into the mysteries of these Sonic Wonders of the World. In the Mojave Desert he finds sand dunes that sing. In France he discovers an echo that tells jokes. In California he drives down a musical road that plays the William Tell Overture. In Cathedrals across the world he learns how acoustics changed the history of the Church.

Touching on physics, music, archaeology, neuroscience, biology, and design, Cox explains how sound is made and altered by the environment and how our body reacts to peculiar noises – from the exotic sonic wonders he encounters on his journey, or the equally unique and surprising sounds of our everyday environment.

In a world dominated by the visual, Sonic Wonderland encourages us to become better listeners and to open our ears to the glorious cacophony around us.

 “A riveting ear-opener, Trevor Cox describes in lyrical detail a range of sonic events and new ways of listening that can only brighten our experience of the acoustic world around us. A must-read for sound-lovers of all stripes.”                    Bernie Krause, author of The Great Animal Orchestra

This is acoustician Trevor Cox’s fun but thoroughly detailed tour through some of the world’s aural gems. Sounds like music to our ears”                           New Scientist

A David Attenborough of the acoustic realm, whose knowledge is unimpeachable yet worn lightly, whose language is vivid yet without indulgence”                                Observer

Captivating… This book does not call for quiet, but for good sound over bad…Reading this revelatory book, it is impossible not to be converted to his cause. He syringes his readers’ ears and the effect is delightful.”                                            Sunday Times

My Crazy Century by Ivan Klíma

More than a memoir, My Crazy Century explores the ways in which the epoch and its dominating totalitarian ideologies impacted the lives, character, and morality of Klima’s generation. Klima’s story begins in the 1930s, in the Terezin concentration camp outside of Prague, where he was forced to spend almost four years of his childhood. He reveals how the postwar atmosphere supported and encouraged the spread of Communist principles over the next few decades and how an informal movement to change the system developed inside the Party. These political events form the backdrop to Klima’s personal experiences, with the arrest and trial of his father; the early revolt of young writers against socialist realism; his first literary successes; and his travels to the free part of Europe, which strengthened his awareness of living as part of a colossal lie. Klima also captures the brief period of liberation during 1968’s Prague Spring, in which he played an active role; the Soviet invasion that crushed its political reforms; the rise of the dissident movement; and the collapse of the Communist regime in the middle of the Velvet Revolution of 1989. Including insightful essays on topics related to social history, political thinking, love, and freedom, My Crazy Century provides a profoundly rich and moving personal history of national evolution. Ivan Klima’s first autobiography and perhaps his most significant work, it encapsulates a remarkable life largely lived under occupation.

 “My Crazy Century is the prizewinning memoir of a writer who, deprived of freedom for much of this life, never ceased to be free in his imagination, creativity, and art. Neither Nazi nor Communist rulers could rob Ivan Klima of his amazing ability–and fierce determination–to distill drops of truth from the sea of experience. Klima was a witness, and participant, in the most dramatic events in twentieth century Europe. This is his story, brilliantly, wittily and poignantly told.”                           Madeleine Albright “

Updike by Adam Begley

 Updike is Adam Begley’s masterful, much-anticipated biography of one of the most celebrated figures in American literature: Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Updike—a candid, intimate, and richly detailed look at his life and work.

In this magisterial biography, Adam Begley offers an illuminating portrait of John Updike, the acclaimed novelist, poet, short-story writer, and critic who saw himself as a literary spy in small-town and suburban America, who dedicated himself to the task of transcribing “middleness with all its grits, bumps and anonymities.”

Updike explores the stages of the writer’s pilgrim’s progress: his beloved home turf of Berks County, Pennsylvania; his escape to Harvard; his brief, busy working life as the golden boy at The New Yorker; his family years in suburban Ipswich, Massachusetts; his extensive travel abroad; and his retreat to another Massachusetts town, Beverly Farms, where he remained until his death in 2009. Drawing from in-depth research as well as interviews with the writer’s colleagues, friends, and family, Begley explores how Updike’s fiction was shaped by his tumultuous personal life—including his enduring religious faith, his two marriages, and his first-hand experience of the “adulterous society” he was credited with exposing in the bestselling Couples.

With a sharp critical sensibility that lends depth and originality to his analysis, Begley probes Updike’s best-loved works—from Pigeon Feathers to The Witches of Eastwick to the Rabbit tetralogy—and reveals a surprising and deeply complex character fraught with contradictions: a kind man with a vicious wit, a gregarious charmer who was ruthlessly competitive, a private person compelled to spill his secrets on the printed page. Updike offers an admiring yet balanced look at this national treasure, a master whose writing continues to resonate like no one else’s.

 “A brilliant biography…A delightfully rich book…Highly readable…The joys of Updike are based on discovering the autobiographical content of the tens of thousands of details that populate Updike’s vast fictional universe.”                      Orhan Pamuk, New York Times Book Review

A superb achievement… A book that, in its evocation of a brilliant but flawed personality, conjured via the skillful deployment of just-so details and a subtle hint of haunting existential grace, is in some ways as rewarding as Updike’s best fiction.”                                 Boston Globe

A beautifully written, richly detailed, and warmly sympathetic portrait of a great American writer.”                       Joyce Carol Oates

Adam Begley’s Updike is a model of what a literary biography should be: rich with penetrating insights not only about the life but also about the work. It will enthrall long-time Updike fans and help create generations of new ones.”                      Francine Prose

Adam Begley’s brilliant evocation/remembrance of our own literary giant should be required reading for Americans; Updike illumines a particular era with John Updike’s own ferocity and tenderness.                            Jayne Anne Phillips

Begley seamlessly weaves biography and critical analysis throughout his book, much as Updike himself blurred autobiography and fiction. Updike is a monumental treatment of a towering American writer.”                                                New York Observer

The Great Indoors: At Home in the Modern British House by Ben Highmore

‘House’ has long been synonymous with ‘home’: the significance of four walls and a roof lies far deeper than simply shelter from the elements. A house stands for sanctuary, family, belonging, privacy and our pasts: even when standardised as a ‘Barratt Home’ or modern housing estate, every house bears the stamp of the people who live in it, remaining a bastion of quirky individualism.

The Great Indoors is the first cultural history of the family home in the twentieth century, comparable to Rachel Hewitt’s Map of a Nation or Joe Moran’s Queuing for Beginnners. As society has changed, so has the house: the hall – which had its finest hour during the middle ages, when families and their servants ate, slept and socialised there together – has now been relegated to a mere passageway, only useful for getting to other (more private) rooms. Highmore shows how houses display the currents of class, identity and social transformation that are displayed in the arrangement and use of the family home. And he also offers an engaging and stimulating peek through the curtains to explain why the fridge is used as a communication centre, how the loo (or toilet) inspired its very own literary genre and what your furniture arrangement reveals about how you function as a family.

Fascinating. A joyful portrait of how we live — in all our eccentric glory. You’ll never look at wallpaper in the same way again.”                 Matt Rudd

The author… is a revelation. He is constantly informative, psychologically nuanced and charming. He’s succeeded where so many others have failed. This is the book that amateur home anthropologists have been waiting for: a book that treats the evolution of home decoration and style with the ambition it deserves.”                  Alain de Botton, The TImes

Highmore takes a captivatingly nosy look around the British home, exploring the roles played by such revolutionary instruments of social change as the duvet and the serving hatch. His range of reference is invigoratingly eclectic.”                             New Statesman

A History of the First World War in 100 Objects

A History of the First World War in 100 Objects narrates the causes, progress and outcome of the First World War by telling the stories behind 100 items of material evidence of that cataclysmic and shattering conflict.

From weapons that created carnage to affectionate letters home and from unexpected items of trench decoration to the paintings of official war artists, the objects are as extraordinary in their diversity and story-telling power as they are devastating in their poignancy.

Each object is depicted on a full page and is the subject of a short chapter that ‘fans out’ from the item itself to describe the context, the people and the events associated with it. Distinctive and original, A History of the First World War in 100 Objects is a unique commemoration of ‘the war to end all wars’.

Chinua Achebe: Tributes and Reflections

The news of Chinua Achebe’s death in the US on 22 March 2013, in the middle of the 39th Annual African Literature Association Conference in Charleston, South Carolina sent shock waves through the African and world literary communities. Renowned as Africa’s most famous novelist and the founding father of modern African writing in English, the publication of his first novel Things Fall Apart under the Heinemann imprint of the African Writers Series, not only contested European narratives about Africa but also challenged traditional assumptions about the form and function of the novel. His writing career spanned over fifty years, from the publication of Things Fall Apart (1958) to There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra (2012), his memoir of the Nigeria Biafra war in the 1960s.

Nobel Laureates Wole Soyinka, Toni Morrison and Nadine Gordimer lead an international chorus of tributes to Chinua Achebe’s writing and legacy. Thi volume features 49 contributors and includes a host of other distinguished writers, critics, scholars and publishers in paying tribute to his literary life, anchoring it within his activism and mediatory role as a great spokesman and defender of Africa.

It was Nadine Gordimer who expressed so well her pleasure that her obituary, published in Johannesburg and London, would appear ‘in the more permanent form of a book… along with the contributions of my comrade writers in the world in honouring of Chinua Achebe.’

Did She Kill Him? A Victorian Tale of Deception, Adultery and Arsenic by Kate Colquhoun

 In the summer of 1889, young Southern belle Florence Maybrick stood trial for the alleged arsenic poisoning of her much older husband, Liverpool cotton merchant James Maybrick.

‘The Maybrick Mystery’ had all the makings of a sensation: a pretty, flirtatious young girl; resentful, gossiping servants; rumours of gambling and debt; and torrid mutual infidelity. The case cracked the varnish of Victorian respectability, shocking and exciting the public in equal measure as they clambered to read the latest revelations of Florence’s past and glimpse her likeness in Madame Tussaud’s.

Florence’s fate was fiercely debated in the courtroom, on the front pages of the newspapers and in parlours and backyards across the country. Did she poison her husband? Was her previous infidelity proof of murderous intentions? Was James’ own habit of self-medicating to blame for his demise?

Historian Kate Colquhoun recounts an utterly absorbing tale of addiction, deception and adultery that keeps you asking to the very last page, did she kill him?

Kate Colquhoun’s account of the Maybrick case is brilliantly detailed – her knowledge of the uses and misuses of poison would put that of many pharmacists to shame.”                              Observer

Kate Colquhoun’s fascinating history…critiques thoroughly and carefully the attitudes of the time.”                                       Scotsman

This is a gripping, beautifully detailed story redolent with danger and impending tragedy.”                        Kirsty Wark

With deliciously dark elements of addiction, deception, torrid adultery and poison, this is the riveting true story of a sensational Victorian trial of 1889…Colquhoun’s writing has a wonderful slow burn to it, and until the final page, she keeps us guessing: guilty, or not guilty?             Bookseller

Sensibly, if tantalisingly, Kate Colquhoun offers no final answers in her absorbing review of this old scandal …she highlights what the case can tell us about late Victorian England – its flawed legal processes and dangerous medical practices, its predatory appetite for gossip, and above all the uncertain position of its women. What Colquhoun reveals is a persistent doubleness – respectability concealing transgression…Restlessness, rather than complacency, characterises the society that she describes.”                         Guardian

Intriguing, forensic…a moral fable of the age, intelligently told by Colquhoun, who places her sources cleverly within historical and literary context…gripping.”                             The Times

Kate Colquhoun has complicated and fascinating story to tell. She has researched the case well, reading the original trial transcripts and contemporary newspaper reports in addition to the many previous accounts of the Maybrick case.”                        Literary Review

South Africa Our Land…

South Africa: Six Decades by Jürgen Schadeberg

Jurgen Schadeberg’s South Africa: Six Decades – a photographic retrospective documentary of South Africa – is a unique visual journey which captures the key cultural, social, and political events and personalities from the 1950s, as well as the early struggle for democracy to present-day human rights issues. This collection of iconic images documents a powerful visual history of South Africa, from the pain and joy of a bittersweet past to today’s vibrant, volatile, creative, and cosmopolitan society. Beautiful

Dear Bullet: A Letter to my Shooter by Sixolile Mbalo

The village of Mpandela lies in one of the most beautiful parts of the Eastern Cape, amid soft flowing hills along which footpaths curl, cattle peacefully graze and children’s playful voices are heard.

This is not the village that Sixolile Mbalo remembers. Circumstances were less kind to her, but she thought that, with the love of her grandmother, she would be able to change her life. Then a young man arrived in the village and decided to make the spirited 13-year-old girl the focus of his most debasing desires.

After being subjected to almost unimaginable violence, Sixolile had to find a way back into life. Her story shines. Seldom does such an articulate voice, from the uncharted spaces of everyday South African rural life, manage not only to survive, but to talk in such an inspiring way.

With an Afterword by Antjie Krog

With My Head Above the Parapet by Ben Turok

With My Head above the Parapet is a record of Ben Turok’s experience as a participant in the political life of this country since 1994. It is also an insightful account of the ANC’s decline and current malaise, told by an insider intent on holding his party to its historical mission of liberating South Africa from poverty, inequality and discrimination.

Ben Turok is a former anti-apartheid activist and veteran ANC MP. He played a key role in the writing of the Freedom Charter, in particular its chapter dealing with economic equality. In November 2011, he broke party ranks and did not vote for the controversial Protection of Information Bill, also known as the Secrecy Bill. As co-chairman of Parliament’s ethics committee, he enforced strict compliance among MPs with the asset disclosure policy and presided over two controversial cases – those of former communications minister Dina Pule and ANC MP Yolanda Botha, who faced charges of fraud and corruption.

 “There is no doubt that Professor Ben Turok is among the formidable political thinkers in South Africa today; a fact lucidly borne out by his tour de force, With My Head above the Parapet, in which he brings twenty years of parliamentary experience to bear on a comprehensive explication of South Africa today. Definitely not a ‘politician’ but a well-rounded human being with a political attitude.” – Kgalema Motlanthe, Deputy President

Postmortem: The Doctor Who Walked Away by Maria Phalime

Inhuman hours, overflowing emergency rooms, poor resources and little support – this is the daily reality of most doctors and nurses in South African public hospitals.

Maria Phalime was once a bright-eyed young medical student with high expectations of what life as a doctor would be like and how she would make a difference. But then she went out into the field. During her tenure at hospitals in Mitchell’s Plain and Khayelitsha she was overwhelmed by the conditions under which she had to work and the physical and psychological needs of her patients. Medical school had not prepared her for the ethical dilemmas she had to face.

 Maria decided to change careers, but for many years reproached herself for this decision. As she goes in search of answers, she also speaks to other doctors who have left medicine. Her conversations with former doctors like comedian Riaad Moosa shed light on some of the major problems in the public health sector.

“This is my story and the stories of other doctors who chose to walk away,” she writes. “Ours is a private anguish filled with the niggling suspicion that we should have been stronger, more committed, more able to handle the daily realities of practicing medicine in South Africa.”

A gripping personal account which exposes not only the deficiencies in the public health sector but also the personal pressures and expectations which come with being a doctor in South Africa.

Justice by Edwin Cameron

Edwin Cameron’s brilliant and revealing new book is part memoir and part ode to the law. The book opens at the funeral of Cameron’s sister Laura when he was just seven. His father was accompanied by prison officials, having been briefly let out of prison for the occasion. This was the young Cameron’s first exposure to the law…

In Justice, Cameron explains and defends the role of the law in South Africa’s continuing transition. He draws on his own life experience – of poverty, of a youth spent in a children’s home, of his differentness and of stigma – to illustrate the power and the limitations of the law.

Cameron argues his case – that the Constitution offers South Africans our best chance for a just society – with personal passion, but also with the insights gained from hard years of judicial experience. Published in the run-on to the national election, Justice comes at a critical time in our country.

The flow and integration are excellent. The ending is powerful and very meaningful.  A really different and special and hopeful and great addition to our legal literature, and a courageous and constructive and encouraging autobiographical contribution. I am sure it will be received with enthusiasm and acclaim“.                                 Justice Laurie Ackermann

A remarkable integration of fascinating and often moving personal memoir, professional reminiscence and acute historical analysis of South African law, politics and society.”                       Sir Sydney Kentridge, QC

An enormously compelling work of advocacy for constitutional democracy, uniquely compelling, in fact, because nobody else could possibly have written it. The way Cameron uses his position and stature and personal history to tell a story about the public values that ought to constitute our common world is admirable and enormously creative… a powerful piece of propaganda in the debate about what it is that we have transitioned to; I hope it gets read very widely, widely enough to challenge the rival propagandas.”                           Johnny Steinberg

The Griekwastad Murders by Jacques Steenkamp

The full account of the murders that rocked a nation by the journalist who first broke the story …

Just after dusk on Good Friday, 6 April 2012, the peace and quiet permeating the small Northern Cape town of Griekwastad was disrupted when a young teenage boy sped into town in his father’s Isuzu bakkie and screeched to a halt in front of the town’s nearly deserted police station.

It was shortly before 19h00 when Don Steenkamp jumped out of the vehicle and ran into the station’s charge office, covered in blood, to announce that his parents and sister had been brutally shot and killed on the family farm, Naauwhoek.

Although the killings were initially thought to be just another farm attack, months later a sixteen-year-old youth was arrested for the murders, setting in motion a chain of events that would grip South Africa, and divide the people of Griekwastad.

Based on interviews with all the role-players, including the investigating officers on the case, the forensic and ballistic experts, and family and friends of the deceased, this is the riveting account of what really happened on Naauwhoek farm on that fateful day, as told by the reporter who followed the case from day one …

Includes the sensational verdict and links to a microsite with up-to-date information on the sentencing.

Chester Missing’s Guide to the Elections

Confused and tired?

Don’t know who you’ll vote for?

What was our history anyway?

Have a sneaking feeling that politicians are sneaky?

Then this is the book for you!

Political wonk, sharp social commentator, relentless interviewer of people who try to get away from him, Chester Missing explains all of history, some geography and the last 100 years of politics. He spells out in inimitable puppet fashion, the must-knows, the who’s who and the what’s-what.

I know puppets don’t usually write books, but puppets also don’t usually interview heads of political parties, cabinet ministers and the public protector on national television, or write for newspapers, or get involved in debates with actual political professors on radio shows. The most satisfying part of being a puppet is that no matter what you say you never have to take responsibility for saying it, so really being a puppet is just like being a politician.”

Chester Missing is one of South Africa’s most prominent political commentators. His hard hitting, no holds barred analysis of South Africa’s socio-political landscape leaves public figures from all sides of the fence running for cover.

“Another thing about this book is that if you don’t know who Gwede Mantashe is, don’t worry. That’s what I am here for, to tell you that if you look for the hairiest comrade in the room, one who sounds like a diesel engine, and is kind of beach-ball shaped, that comrade is probably ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe. Give him a hug. It makes him growl.”

Chester is a regular on ETV and eNCA’s Emmy Award-nominated satirical comedy, Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola. Chester has performed on the comedy circuit, appearing in shows such as Blacks Only, The Kings and Queens of Comedy and the Mass Hysteria Comedy Show.

His importance to the South African political landscape was highlighted when he was invited to cover the ANC Elections at Mangaung as part of eNCA’s team of reporters. He is a social media junkie (follow him on Twitter @chestermissing), and regularly writes for the likes of City Press and

A Time Traveller’s Guide to our Next 10 Years by Frans Cronje

Picture South Africa in ten years: Are the angry poor rising up, seizing land and businesses? Will the ANC survive three more elections? Will the middle classes still braai in suburbia or will we go the way of Zimbabwe?

South Africa is currently at a tipping point. Unemployment, slow growth, threats to freedom of speech, and poor education can send the country in any direction. Frans Cronje, CEO of one of the country’s leading think-tanks, identifies the key trends in the economy, politics and society which hold the clues to our immediate future.

 While living standards have for instance improved since 1994, in an ironic twist this is fuelling ever-increasing expectations by the populace. The “curse of rising expectations” lies at the root of much of the instability in the country.

Cronje uses key trends in our society to outline the four most likely scenarios for the country, which he quite fittingly calls the Narrow Road, the Wide Road, the Rocky Road and the Toll Road.

Sobering, shocking and hopeful in turn, no South African can afford to ignore the convincing futures Cronje paints.

Blood Money: The Cyril Karabus Story by Suzanne Belling

The shock of being arrested at Dubai Airport was almost too much for the ailing 77-year-old Professor Cyril Karabus, a world-renowned paediatric oncologist en route home to Cape Town with his wife and family after attending his son’s wedding in Toronto.

Without his knowledge, Prof Karabus had been tried in absentia in 2004 in Abu Dhabi and found guilty of manslaughter after the death of a three-year-old Yemeni girl who had died from acute myeloblastic leukaemia. Prof Karabus had served a locum in the United Arab Emirates in 2002 when this death occurred. Charges were trumped up against him by the child’s father, who demanded blood money – which, according to Sharia law, is only payable after a criminal conviction – despite the fact that the girl was not even Prof Karabus’s patient.

This is the engrossing story of Cyril Karabus’s fight to prove his innocence and secure his release from jail in the UAE, where he was confined for nine months. It also lifts the lid on all the extraordinary behind-the-scenes attempts and manoeuvres to free the doctor.

The “Free Professor Karabus” campaign was led by the Cape Town lawyer Michael Bagraim and was embraced by the medical community. This involved boycotts of Dubai-based medical conferences, public protests, website petitions and fundraisers to help meet the professor’s legal expenses. The South African and World Medical Associations both plunged headlong into the fight on his behalf, as did the South African Department of International Relations and Co-operation, which sent its deputy minister to try to secure his release.

Something Visual…

Lettering Large: The Art and Design of Monumental Typography by Steven Heller and Mirko Illic

Typography has jumped off the printed page to stand on its own as branding, sculpture, and even architecture. Lettering Large examines this phenomenon through a diverse collection of images collected from a vast range of sources around the world. As technology has made construction and production of monumental letters possible, the demand for their design has grown exponentially. This book is the first to chronicle letters as presences in the urban landscape. Preeminent graphic design and typographic commentator and historian Steve Heller teams with Mirko Ili, a noted graphic designer, to select the most dramatic and telling examples culled from sites across the United States and throughout Europe and Asia.

Planet Banksy: The Man, His Work and the Movement he inspired

Banksy is the world’s foremost graffiti artist, his work adorning streets, walls and bridges across nations and continents. His stencil designs are instantly recognizable and disturbingly precise in their social and political commentary, flavoured with subtle humour and self-awareness. More popular than ever, Banksy has spawned countless imitators, students and fans alike, his fame – although unlooked-for – inevitably transmitting his ideas and work to the international arena.

Highlighting both the relevance of Banksy’s work and how his impact has continued to spread, Planet Banksy brings together some of the very best pieces of art from all corners of the world that have been inspired by Banksy, as well as featuring some of his own innovative, profound and controversial work. With a range of topics for the graffiti coming from a variety of inspirational sources, this book provides an overview of how the man’s work is changing the face of modern art – as well as the urban landscape. Distilling his influence and his genius into an easily accessible full-colour 128 pages, this is the perfect purchase for any fan of Banksy or the graffiti art scene.

The Infographic History of the World by Valentina D’Efilippo

The History of the World, but not as you know it.

A new type of history is here – all 13.8 billion years of it, exploded into a visually jaw-dropping feast of facts, trends and timelines that tell you everything you’d ever want to know about the history of the world.

From the primordial soup to the technological revolution of the 21st century, interesting stuff has been going on; and ever since prehistoric man scratched the first tally markings into a damp cave wall, we’ve been counting and measuring it all.

Which historic warriors conquered the most territory, killed the most people, or had the largest empire?
When did everything evolve?
Which languages are related to which?
What’s been invented and when?
Where are we being born, and what are we dying of?
Which countries are eating all the food, causing all the pollution and taking all the drugs?

A story of civilisation and barbarism, of war and peace, this is history done in a new way – a beautifully designed collection of the most insightful and revealing trends that tell us what the human race has been up to, and where we’re heading.

The book is a delight.”                 Economist

This new book, packed with beautifully and cleverly laid out infographics, provides a refreshing exploration of the history of the world.”                    Creative Review

 Poetry Corner

The Glassblower Dances by Rachel McCrum

Rachel McCrum has been working as a performance poet in Edinburgh since 2010. She is one half of Rally & Broad, the newest literary cabaret extravaganza to emerge from Edinburgh. She was a finalist at the 2012 BBC Edinburgh Festival Poetry Slam and winner of the 2012 International Women’s Day Slam. She co-organises Inky Fingers, the Edinburgh based spoken word collective, and has performed across Scotland with Hello Poetry, Blind Poetics, the Golden Hour and at Wickerman Festival. The Glassblower Dances is her first pamphlet.

“ [Rachel McCrum] combines the linear and leisurely flow of the performer with the feel for structure and pattern of a page poet, and a complexity of thought which does credit to both. […] A useful taster for what I hope will soon be a full collection of poetry.”                                                                                                                          Scottish Review of Books:

The sense that this is the perfect way to say something is never far off as you read her poems.”             Poetry Scotland Reviews

 Happy Reading!

Launch of Arctic Summer by Damon Galgut

Thursday, April 24th 2014 at 5:30 PM

Arctic Summer - Invite


Vociferous Wednesdays : Public Protector’s Nkandla report

Wednesday, April 23rd 2014 at 5:30 PM


Fifteenth Caine Prize shortlist announced

Wednesday, April 23rd 2014 at 10:37 AM

The shortlist for the 2014 Caine Prize for African Writing has been announced today (Tuesday 22 April) by Nobel Prize winner and Patron of the Caine Prize Professor Wole Soyinka, as part of the opening ceremonies for the UNESCO World Book Capital 2014 celebration in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

To commemorate fifteen years of the Caine Prize this year, £500 will be awarded to each shortlisted writer.

The Chair of judges, award-winning author Jackie Kay MBE described the shortlist as, “Compelling, lyrical, thought-provoking and engaging. From a daughter’s unusual way of grieving for her father, to a memorable swim with a grandmother, a young boy’s fascination with a gorilla’s conversation, a dramatic faux family meeting, to a woman who is forced to sell her eggs, the subjects are as diverse as they are entertaining.”

 She added, “The standard of entries was exceptionally high so much so that it was actually very difficult for the judges to whittle it down to a shortlist of only five stories. We were heartened by how many entrants were drawn to explorations of a gay narrative. What a golden age for the African short story, and how exciting to see real originality – with so many writers bringing something different to the form.”

The winner of the £10,000 prize is to be announced at a celebratory dinner at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, on Monday 14 July.

The 2014 shortlist comprises:

As always the stories will be available to read online on our website  For the first time an audio version of Tendai Huchu’s story is also available

The book of the 2014 prize will be published with the this year’s workshop stories in our forthcoming anthology which will be launched at the award dinner in July 2014 and published by New Internationalist (978-1-78026-174-4 print; 978-1-78026-175-1 ebook) and seven co-publishers in Africa.

 Alongside Jackie on the panel of judges this year are the distinguished novelist and playwright Gillian Slovo, Zimbabwean journalist Percy Zvomuya, Assistant Professor of English at the University of Georgetown Dr Nicole Rizzuto and the winner of the Caine Prize in 2001 Helon Habila.

 Once again, the winner of the £10,000 Caine Prize will be given the opportunity of taking up a month’s residence at Georgetown University, as a Writer-in-Residence at the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice. The award will cover all travel and living expenses. The winner will also be invited to take part in the Open Book Festival in Cape Town in September 2014, the Storymoja Hay Festival in Nairobi and the Ake Festival in Nigeria. Last year the Caine Prize was won by Nigerian writer Tope Folarin. He has subsequently signed up with the Lippincott Massie McQuilkin literary agency and is working on his first novel The Proximity of Distance.