Let’s look at Penguin Month
Each month till September we will be having a look at the best new publications from an individual publisher. This month we take a peek at four great new titles from Penguin Books…
Random Kak (I remember about growing up in South Africa): An Illustrated Memoir by Trevor Romain
Trevor Romain’s illutrated memoir of growing up in South Africa- this will tickle the fancy of anyone who is South African – or knows South Africa. Funny, quirky and charming, and illustrated with some of South Africa’s favourite icons – every South African household should have a copy of this book and every visitor should take one home with them to remember the flavour of this wonderful country.
Trevor Romain is a best-selling author and illustrator of an award-winning series of self-help books for children, as well as a sought-after motivational speaker. Trevor was born and raised in South Africa and is currently based in the USA where he hosts a popular television series. His books have sold more than a million copies worldwide and have been published in 16 different languages.
Never Let Go by Gareth Crocker
As he presses a revolver to his head, Reece Cole sees his little daughter’s handprints on the windowpane. One last, painful reminder of her all too short life. But then he notices something about the handprints that defies belief. Something that verges on the impossible.
He spends the next few days frantically trying to make sense of what is happening. Then a stranger stops at his gate with a small grey envelope. Inside is a single white card, inscribed with six breathtaking words:
I can bring your daughter back.
Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling – illustrated by Alex Latimer
How did the leopard get his spots? Why do cats act as though they own the place? What does a crocodile like best for lunch? Why are rhinos so cranky? What causes the ocean tides to rise and fall? Who wrote the alphabet? Generations of children have grown up with the Just So Stories and have been captivated by Kipling’s wonderful insights into the world around us – all delivered in his beautiful, read-aloud prose. Now these classic gems have been given a new look for a new generation. Illustrated by children’s book author and Book Lounge favourite Alex Latimer, each story comes alive anew with latimer’s own insights and humour.
Glen Agliotti: A Biography by Peter Piegl and Sean Newman
A magistrate put Glenn Agliotti among the ‘snitches, pimps, rats who would sell their soul to evade a long prison term’. The press called him a drug trafficker and a drug dealer. He was. He’d admitted to these crimes and signed a plea bargain to grass on an associate. He was also known as the Landlord, which made him sound like a mafia boss.
He was also a facilitator between those in high place – think Jackie Selebi, and businessmen on the make; think Brett Kebble. He was known as a fixer, the go-to guy who commanded fees of R100 million to organise connections.
This is the story of the man who did business in coffee shops and met associates in car parks and underground garages. It is the story of the man who bought shoes for the national commissioner of police. The man accused of the murder of Brett Kebble. This is the story of Glenn Agliotti, one of Johannesburg’s sons of the underworld.
What Hidden Lies by Michéle Rowe
The murder of a sex offender on the spectacular Cape Town coast brings together Detective Persephone (Percy) Jonas and retired criminal psychologist, Dr Marge Labuschagne. As they struggle to find answers and confront their own prejudices, the past stretches out to touch the present. This is a story about secrets – particularly those we keep from ourselves.
Michele Rowe is an experienced scriptwriter for film and television. She has been nominated for, and won, several awards. These include an International Emmy nomination last year for a series which she co-originated and winning the CWA Debut Dagger in July 2011. She also teaches screenwriting at the University of Cape Town. What Hidden Lies is her first novel.
A new local literary magazine on the scene
Prufrock is a new South African literary magazine founded by four University of Cape Town graduates, featuring longform non-fiction, fiction, poetry, photography and illustration. It calls itself simply “a magazine of writing”, believing in the pursuit of “damn fine writing” and a “means to put it in its place”.
It is inspired to act as a mouthpiece for a young South Africa, taking as its unlikely muse Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock, master of self-doubt and cynicism and an embodiment of the post-honeymoon nation’s less becoming qualities: disillusionment, paralysis, apathy. Prufrock is a means to embrace this, to say the unsayable, name the unnameable and to have fun along the way.
Prufrock believes in the South African here-and-now, and that non-fiction can be just as beautiful and satisfying as fiction. In light of the Secrecy Bill, Anton Harber recalls the selective cultural boycott in 1980s South Africa. Literary bigwigs Gordimer and Coetzee, on separate sides of the fence, climb into the ring over his subsequent ‘disinvitation’. This as Harber’s newspaper, The Weekly Mail, is forced by government to shut down for a month.
Other features include Kwazulu Natal’s amateur standup comedy scene and a personal account of The Paris Review’s 60th Annual Spring Revel held in New York from the perspective of a South African intern. Young artists in Gaza speak about creativity under Hamas’ iron grip. All is published here for the first time.
Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi
A stellar and impressive debut, spanning generations and continents, Ghana Must Go by rising star Taiye Selasi is a tale of family drama and forgiveness, for fans of Zadie Smith and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
This is the story of a family – of the simple, devastating ways in which families tear themselves apart, and of the incredible lengths to which a family will go to put itself back together.
It is the story of one family, the Sais, whose good life crumbles in an evening; a Ghanaian father, Kwaku Sai, who becomes a highly respected surgeon in the US only to be disillusioned by a grotesque injustice; his Nigerian wife, Fola, the beautiful homemaker abandoned in his wake; their eldest son, Olu, determined to reconstruct the life his father should have had; their twins, seductive Taiwo and acclaimed artist Kehinde, both brilliant but scarred and flailing; their youngest, Sadie, jealously in love with her celebrity best friend. All of them sent reeling on their disparate paths into the world. Until, one day, tragedy spins the Sais in a new direction.
Ghana Must Go interweaves the stories of the Sais in a rich and moving drama of separation and reunion, spanning generations and cultures from West Africa to New England, London, New York and back again. It is a debut novel of blazing originality and startling power by a writer of extraordinary gifts.
“Ghana Must Go is both a fast moving story of one family’s fortunes and an ecstatic exploration of the inner lives of its members. With her perfectly-pitched prose and flawless technique, Selasi does more than merely renew our sense of the African novel: she renews our sense of the novel, period. An astonishing debut.” Teju Cole, author of Open City
“Ghana Must Go comes with a bagload of prepublication praise. For once, the brouhaha is well deserved. Ms. Selasi has an eye for the perfect detail: a baby’s toenails ‘like dewdrops’, a woman sleeps ‘like a cocoyam. A thing without senses… unplugged from the world.’ As a writer she has a keen sense of the baggage of childhood pain and an unforgettable voice on the page. Miss out on Ghana Must Go and you will miss one of the best new novels of the season.” Economist
“Buoyant… a joy… Rapturous.“ Wall Street Journal
“Taiye Selasi writes with glittering poetic command, a sense of daring, and a deep emotional investment in the lives and transformations of her characters…a powerful portrait of a broken family.” Guardian
“A most impressive first novel…She manages a generous coverage of time and space with adroit concision, along with a vibrant range of characters. The family is so convincing, with those telling problems of divided culture. Very much a novel of today.” Penelope Lively
“Taiye Selasi is a young writer of staggering gifts and extraordinary sensitivity. Ghana Must Go seems to contain the entire world, and I shall never forget it.” Elizabeth Gilbert, Author Of Eat, Pray, Love
White Dog Fell from the Sky by Eleanor Morse
Botswana, 1976. Isaac Muthethe thinks that he is dead. Forced to flee his country after witnessing a friend murdered by white members of the South African Defense Force, he finds himself, for the first time, in a country without apartheid. Smuggled across the border from South Africa in a hearse, buried in a coffin, he awakens covered in dust, staring at blue sky and the face of White Dog.
Walking along the road into Gaborone, Botswana’s capital, White Dog following close behind, a chance encounter with an old school acquaintance changes the course of Isaac’s life – as does the job he finds as gardener for a young American woman, Alice Mendelssohn, who has abandoned her Ph.D. studies in order to follow her husband to Africa. But when Isaac goes missing and Alice goes searching for him, what she finds out will change her life and inextricably bind her to this sunburned, beautiful land.
“Eleanor Morse captures the magic of the African landscape and the terror and degradation of life under apartheid in White Dog Fell from the Sky…tense and heartfelt.” O Magazine
“Magic, friendship, the tragedy of apartheid and the triumph of loyalty are recounted in poetic, powerful prose by this unconventional and intelligent writer. Shattering and uplifting.” Kuki Gallmann, author of I Dreamed of Africa
Banner of the Passing Clouds by Anthea Nicholson
The Banner of the Passing Clouds depicts life under the totalitarian communist regime in Georgia from the 50s to 90s, when Georgia gained independence from the USSR. Its compelling narrator, who is born on the day Stalin dies, is given Stalin’s name by hospital nurses – Iosif Dzhugashvili. When Iosif learns of his strange link to the ‘man of steel’, he becomes convinced that Stalin has found a new dwelling place within his chest, a burden he both welcomes and fears. The Banner of the Passing Clouds vividly describes life in Tbilisi and gives an extraordinary insight into living under communism in Georgia. In Iosif, Anthea Nicholson has created a unique narrator: a victim of the regime, which dictates all aspects of his and his family’s life, who is also complicit in its ideology and practises. As an unquestioning citizen of communism, he is disconcertingly unpleasant, yet he remains a curiously pathetic and moving figure. It is only when Iosif unwittingly destroys his family’s happiness that some kind of redemption for him is possible.
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
From the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun, a powerful story of love, race and identity.
As teenagers in Lagos, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country if they can. The self-assured Ifemelu departs for America. There she suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.
Thirteen years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a blogger. But after so long apart and so many changes, will they find the courage to meet again, face to face?
Fearless, gripping, spanning three continents and numerous lives, Americanah is a richly told story of love and expectation set in today’s globalised world.
“An extremely thoughtful, subtly provocative exploration of structural inequality, of different kinds of oppression, of gender roles, of the idea of home. Subtle, but not afraid to pull its punches.” Guardian
“Her observations about race are fresh and incisive…Read Americanah to find out – and enjoy the chance to visit three continents, observe a wide array of subcultures and meet complicated and interesting characters – and to go wherever Adichie chooses to take us.” Sunday Times
“Adichie writes superb dialogue straight from the mouth of her people…This is a delicious, important novel from a writer with a great deal to say.” The Times
“A brilliant exploration of being African in America … an urgent and important book, further evidence that its author is a real talent.” Sunday Telegraph
“Adichie is terrific on human interactions…Adichie’s writing always has an elegant shimmer to is … [Americanah is] wise, entertaining and unendingly perceptive.” Independent on Sunday
“As she did so masterfully with Half of a Yellow Sun, Adichie paints on a grand canvas, boldly and confidently, equally adept at conveying the complicated political backdrop of Lagos as she is in bringing us into the day-to-day lives of her many new Americans … This is a very funny, very warm and moving intergenerational epic that confirms Adiche’s virtuosity, boundless empathy and searing social acuity.” Dave Eggers
The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna
Gost is surrounded by mountains and fields of wild flowers. The summer sun burns. The Croatian winter brings freezing winds. Beyond the boundaries of the town an old house which has lain empty for years is showing signs of life. One of the windows, glass darkened with dirt, today stands open, and the lively chatter of English voices carries across the fallow fields. Laura and her teenage children have arrived.
A short distance away lies the hut of Duro Kolak who lives alone with his two hunting dogs. As he helps Laura with repairs to the old house, they uncover a mosaic beneath the ruined plaster and, in the rising heat of summer, painstakingly restore it. But Gost is not all it seems; conflicts long past still suppurate beneath the scars.
“An intricate tapestry of betrayal, tragedy and loss … Forna understands that it is only by making patterns out of chaos that humans find the courage to continue living. And in this affecting, passionate and intelligent novel about the redemptive power of love and storytelling, she shows how it is done.” Daily Telegraph
“This richly accomplished and satisfying novel, which engages both mind and heart, has rightly made the Orange Prize shortlist.” Independent
“Brilliant…a remarkable novel .” Guardian
All That Is by James Salter
A major new novel, his first work of fiction in seven years, from the universally acclaimed master and PEN/Faulkner winner: a sweeping, seductive love story set in the years after World War II. From his experiences as a young naval officer in battles off Okinawa, Philip Bowman returns to America and finds a position as a book editor. In a world of dinners, deals, and literary careers, Bowman finds that he fits in perfectly. But despite his success, what eludes him is love. His first marriage goes bad, another fails to happen, and finally he meets a woman who enthrals him before setting him on a course he could never imagine for himself. Romantic and haunting, All That Is explores a life unfolding in an unforgettable world on the brink of change – a dazzling, sometimes devastating labyrinth of love and ambition, a fiercely intimate account of the great shocks and grand pleasures of being alive.
“Salter is the contemporary writer most admired and envied by other writers …he can, when he wants, break your heart with a sentence.” Washington Post
“James Salter can suggest in a single sentence an individual’s entire history.” New York Times
“There is scarcely a writer alive who could not learn from his passion and precision of language.” Peter Matthiessen
“This masterpiece is a smooth, absorbing narrative studded with bright particulars. If God is in the details, this book is divine.” Edmund White
“A consistently elegant and enjoyable novel, full of verve and wisdom.” Julian Barnes
Rumours by Mongane Wally Serote
He has lost his job and his wife, and he has become more and more reliant on the solace of alcohol. After hitting rock bottom, Keke is thrust into a spiritual journey. He meets Ami, a shaman from Mali, and travels there, where he is ‘cooked’ and cleansed in a ‘meeting’ with his ancestors.
Only when he is healed, and understands his role in the context of a post-apartheid South Africa, can Keke make a careful comeback to his country to re-join his wife and comrades. The global village, the African continent and South Africa are the platforms where Keke’s life unfolds in the 21st century.
“Mongane Wally Serote is rightly one of South Africa’s most celebrated writers, and there is no doubt that his writing wears it’s polemical and political heart prominently on its sleeve“ Margeret von Klemperer
Warpaint by Alicia Foster
Warpaint by Alicia Foster is a compelling tale of truth and lies, tragedy and black comedy, loosely based on the lives of four painters of the time.
England, 1942: a dark world of conflict, hardship and subterfuge where information is a matter of life and death and art has become a weapon.
In a gothic villa deep in the woods near Bletchley Park, the ‘Black’ propaganda team use intelligence to make propaganda designed to demoralise the enemy. For Vivienne Thayer, employed as an artist at the villa, the war has worked out well so far, she has an indulgent husband and a new lover. And while the government quibbles over what cannot be shown officially, at the villa there are no such restrictions – but where does the subterfuge end?
Meanwhile, on the Home Front, three women painters – Laura Knight, Faith Farr and Cecily Browne – have been tasked by the War Artist’s Advisory Committee with recording wartime life, brightening the existence of a public starved of culture, and summoning up the bulldog spirit in their art. Together they must battle with the men in power, including Churchill himself, to control the stories that can be told.
As the course of the war turns and the lives of both groups collide, each woman must ask herself what can be revealed and what must be concealed, even from those closest to them.
“Fascinating…weaving together real-life events and fiction, Warpaint is an intriguing examination of the demands made on personal and artistic lives by the extreme circumstances that exist in wartime conditions.” Metro
The Painted Bridge by Wendy Wallace
Outside London behind a stone wall stands Lake House, a private asylum for genteel women of a delicate nature. In the winter of 1859, recently-married Anna Palmer becomes its newest arrival, tricked by her husband into leaving home, incarcerated against her will and declared hysterical and unhinged. With no doubts as to her sanity, Anna is convinced that she will be released as soon as she can tell her story. But Anna learns that liberty will not come easily. The longer she remains at Lake House, the more she realises that — like the ethereal bridge over the asylum’s lake — nothing is as it appears. She begins to experience strange visions and memories that may lead her to the truth about her past, herself, and to freedom – or lead her so far into the recesses of her mind that she may never escape… Set in Victorian England, as superstitions collide with a new psychological understanding, this elegant, emotionally suspenseful debut novel is a tale of self-discovery, secrets, and a search for the truth in a world where the line between madness and sanity seems perilously fine.
“I was gripped by this fantastic book. Chilling, heart-warming, very well written, this is an unusual novel about Victorian England.” Rosie Boycott
The Wall by William Sutcliffe
Joshua lives with his mother and step-father in Amarias, an isolated town, where all the houses are brand new. Amarias is surrounded by a high wall, guarded by soldiers, which can only be crossed through a heavily fortified checkpoint. Joshua has been taught that the Wall is the only thing keeping his people safe from a brutal and unforgiving enemy.
One day, Joshua stumbles across a tunnel that leads underneath the Wall. The chance to catch a glimpse of life on the other side of The Wall is too tempting to resist. He’s heard plenty of stories about the other side, but nothing has prepared him for what he finds…
Set in a tense reality closely mirroring Israel’s West bank, this deeply affecting parable of a boy who undertakes a short journey to another world lingers long after completion.
The First Book of Calamity Leek by Paula Lichtarowicz
Books tell you what to believe.
Books explain the world around you.
What if a book had been written to explain a world constructed only for you?
What if that world suddenly fell apart?
Calamity Leek needs a new book. But she’s going to have to write it herself.
“Wonderfully strange“ Mark Haddon, Author Of The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time
“This hypnotic debut novel – one of the hottest reads of the year – is no ordinary book. It combines pitch-perfect teen angst with a fantastical setting and premise; as much a hymn to reading as a gripping story.” Elle
“This is an utterly original, intriguing and intense book which thrills the reader with its story and language. This is the start of a stunning career. Paula L is to be congratulated hugely – I am sent about 20 books a week, so many of them simply copying what has gone before, or following very obvious trends, and it’s so good to encounter real individuality and freshness and an identifiable, strong, creative voice.” Bidisha
“Deeply perplexing…as hints of the reality behind the fantasy start to emerge, the story develops its own peculiar and intense momentum.” Sunday Times
Drug Muled: Sixteen Years in a Thai Prison by Joanne Joseph
On the verge of a big break in modelling, Miss SA finalist, 21-year-old Vanessa Goosen is caught up in every traveller’s nightmare. Duped into carrying books with 1.7 kilograms of heroin hidden in them, Goosen is arrested in Thailand and tried on drug trafficking charges.
Deaf to her pleas of innocence, the Thai courts sentence Goosen to death. On appeal her sentence is commuted to life, to be served in Bangkok’s notorious Lard Yao prison.
Pregnant, terrified and desperately alone, Goosen begins a harrowing 16-year journey behind bars. Forced to part with her beloved daughter three years later, Goosen’s story traces the joy and hurt of motherhood behind bars, the depression that comes with long-term incarceration and separation, and her return to a hugely changed South Africa in 2010.
Fort of Nine Towers by Qais Akbar Omar
Qais Akbar Omar’s young life coincided with one of the most convulsive decades in Afghan history: civil war, the rise of the Taliban, and the arrival of international troops in 2001. A Fort of Nine Towers, named for the place his parents first sought shelter from war, is the story of Qais’s family and their remarkable survival. When the fighting came, this group of tenacious and deeply loving people was buffeted from one part of Afghanistan to the next, ‘like kittens in the jaws of a lion’. They set up camp on the plains, in the Buddha caves of Bamiyan, and later with Kuchi nomads, before they were finally able to return to Kabul – where in many senses their trials were just beginning. As he shares this long journey, through terror, loss, heartbreak, and sudden moments of joy, Qais’s spirit never ceases to shine. This is an extraordinary book about a beautiful and civilized country ravaged by war, and about the power of stories to embolden, console, and bind a family together, in the face of almost unimaginable odds.
Creation: The Origin of Life, the Future of Life by Adam Rutherford
Creation by Adam Rutherford uses the very latest science to provide the most up-to-date and comprehensive account yet of the story of life – where it came from and where it is going.
Recent breakthroughs in the science of life are solving the great mystery of its origin while giving us the power to design its future. Presented here back-to-back, these two gripping narratives reveal the full story of creation.
The Origin of Life takes the reader on a gripping, four-billion-year journey of discovery to explain what life is, where it came from and in what form it first appeared. From interplanetary collisions to the inner-workings of cells and genes, it offers answers to the very grandest of questions before arriving at a thrilling solution to the greatest detective story of them all.
The Future of Life introduces a new chapter in human history: living technology. Our mastery of genetics now allows us to create entirely new life-forms within the laboratory – goats that produce spider silk in their milk, bacteria that excrete diesel, cells that identify and destroy tumours – but this revolutionary technology is fraught with controversy, not least the fear of bioterrorism. While introducing us to these remarkable innovations and explaining how they work, Adam Rutherford presents a powerful argument for their benefit to humankind.
“A superbly written explanation of how the origin of life on Earth became a question for science, and what the answer might be.” Brian Cox
“One of the most eloquent and genuinely thoughtful books on science over the past decade…You will not find a better, more balanced or up-to-date take on either the origin of life or synthetic biology … Essential reading for anyone interested in the coming revolution, which could indeed rival the Industrial Revolution or the internet.” Observer
“An engaging account of both the mystery of life’s origin and its impending resolution, as well as a fascinating glimpse of the impending birth of a new, synthetic biology.” Matt Ridley
“The perfect primer on the past and future of DNA…Rutherford tells his stories with great brio and a disarming line in personal commentary.” Guardian
The Last Train to Zona Verde: Overland from Cape Town to Angola by Paul Theroux
‘Happy again, back in the kingdom of light,’ writes Paul Theroux as he sets out on a new journey though the continent he knows and loves best.
Having travelled down the right-hand side of Africa in Dark Star Safari, he sets out this time from Cape Town (where he visited the Book Lounge), heading northwards in a new direction, up the left-hand side, through South Africa and Namibia, to Botswana, then on into Angola, heading for the Congo, in search of the end of the line.
Journeying alone through the greenest continent in what he feels will be his last African journey, Theroux encounters a world increasingly removed from both the intineraries of tourists and the hopes of post-colonial independence movements. Leaving the Cape Town townships, traversing the Namibian bush, passing the browsing cattle of the great sunbaked heartland of the savannah, Theroux crosses ‘the Red Line’ into a different Africa: “the improvised, slapped-together Africa of tumbled fences and cooking fires, of mud and thatch”, of heat and poverty, and of roadblocks, mobs and anarchy.
A final African adventure from the writer whose gimlet eye and effortless prose have brought the world to generations of readers, The Last Train to Zona Verde is Paul Theroux’s ultimate safari.
The Corporation that Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational by Nick Robins
The English East India Company was the mother of the modern multinational. Its trading empire encircled the globe, importing Asian luxuries such as spices, textiles and teas. But it also conquered much of India with its private army and broke open China’s markets with opium. The Company’s practices shocked its contemporaries and still reverberate today.
The Corporation That Changed the World is the first book to reveal the Company’s enduring legacy as a corporation. This expanded edition explores how the four forces of scale, technology, finance and regulation drove its spectacular rise and fall. For decades, the Company was simply too big to fail, and stock market bubbles, famines, drug-running and even duels between rival executives are to be found in this new account.
For Robins, the Company’s story provides vital lessons on both the role of corporations in world history and the steps required to make global business accountable today.
“Nick Robins’ history of astonishing corporate greed, excess and abuse of power is brilliantly told, and perfectly timed.” Isabel Hilton, Editor of China Dialogue
“The book is a brilliant, important contribution to an understanding of development and poverty.” New Internationalist
Three Things You Need to Know About Rockets by Jessica Fox
This is a book for anyone who has ever thought What if? A true story about a woman who dared to follow her dreams…
Jessica Fox was living in Hollywood, an ambitious 26-year-old filmmaker with a high-stress job at NASA. Working late one night, craving another life, she was seized by a moment of inspiration and tapped second hand bookshop Scotland into Google. She clicked on the first link she saw.
A month later, she arrived 2,000 miles across the Atlantic in Wigtown, on the west coast of Scotland, and knocked on the door of the bookshop she would be living in for the next month…
The rollercoaster journey that ensued taking in Scottish Hanukkah, yoga on Galloway’s West Coast, and a waxing that she will never forget would both break and mend her heart. It would also teach her that sometimes we must have the courage to travel the path less taken. Only then can we truly become the writers of our own stories.
Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World by Shereen El Feki
If you really want to know a people, start by looking inside their bedrooms.
As political change sweeps the streets and squares, the parliaments and presidential palaces of the Arab world, Shereen El Feki has been looking at an upheaval a little closer to home—in the sexual lives of men and women in Egypt and across the region. The result is an informative, insightful, and engaging account of a highly sensitive and still largely secret aspect of Arab society.
Sex is entwined in religion, tradition, politics, economics, and culture, so it is the perfect lens through which to examine the complex social landscape of the Arab world. From pregnant virgins to desperate housewives, from fearless activists to religious firebrands, from sex work to same-sex relations, Sex and the Citadel takes a fresh look at the sexual history of the region and brings new voices to the debate over its future.
This is no peep show or academic treatise but a highly personal and often humorous account of one woman’s journey to better understand Arab society at its most intimate and, in the process, to better understand her own origins. Rich with five years of groundbreaking research, Sex and the Citadel gives us a unique and timely understanding of everyday lives in a part of the world that is changing before our eyes.
Lost, Stolen or Shredded: Stories of Missing Works of Art and Literature by Rick Gekoski
Like Sherlock Holmes’ dog in the night time, sometimes the true significance of things lies in their absence. Rick Gekoski tells the very human stories that lie behind some of the greatest losses to artistic culture – and addresses the questions such disappearances raise. Some of the items are stolen (the Mona Lisa), some destroyed (like Philip Larkin’s diaries, shredded, then burnt, on his dying request) and some were lost before they even existed, like the career of the brilliant art deco architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, which foundered amid a lack of cash – but behind all of them lies an often surprising story which reveals a lot about what art means to us. Gekoski explores in depth the greater questions these tremendous losses raise – such as the rights artists and authors have over their own work, the importance of the search for perfection in creativity, and what motivated people to queue to see the empty space where the Mona Lisa once hung in the Louvre.
“A natural and skilled storyteller.” Colm Tolbin
“Think Bill Bryson, only on books.” Tatler
“An informed and discursive interrogator … these essays entertainingly mix whodunit narrative with cultural polemics.” Evening Standard
“Illuminating and eclectic.” Financial Times
“Highly entertaining…One finishes the book exhilarated and amused.” Observer
Always Apprentices: The Believer Magazine presents Twenty-Two Conversations Between Writers edited by Sheila Heti
Always Apprentices collects five years of intimate, wide-ranging conversations with many of today’s most prominent writers, taken from the pages of the Believer. The participants don’t limit themselves to issues of writing and craft, but instead offer unfettered exchanges on a wide range of topics—from what it means to be a consumer to whether or not to kill a deer, from how we get to know each other to walking while inebriated. The interviews feature the serious-yet-casual Believer approach to the often staid interview format. For example, Sheila Heti asks Mary Gaitskill, “If you go into a room or go to a party, is there a basic disposition you have toward humans going through the world?” Elsewhere, Colum McCann begins his conversation with Aleksandar Hemon by asking, “What are we doing here? Why aren’t we in a pub?” Other interviews include Don DeLillo talking with Bret Easton Ellis; Joan Didion talking with Vendela Vida; and Barry Hannah talking with Wells Tower.
Music and Lights!
Pieces of a Dream: The Story of Dance for All by Gillian Warren-Brown
Dance for All’s mission is to provide children in historically disadvantaged communities with the opportunity for enjoyment, empowerment and the promotion of self-esteem through the medium of dance, as well as training professional dancers and developing a unique, indigenous dance company.
Philip Boyd, a prinicipal dancer with CAPAB Ballet, started Dance for All in 1991, with the support of his illustrious wife, Prima Ballerina Assoluta Phyllis Spira. Since then, thousands of children in the townships of Cape Town and surrounding rural areas have benefited from its outreach programme.
This beautifully produced and illustrated book is the story of Dance for All; and of the children whose lives have been enriched by it. Among them are Hope Nongqongqo, a founder student who became Outreach Manager, and Mbulelo Ndabeni, who won a scholarship to train in London and went on to dance professionally with the prestigious Rambert Dance Company. Highly recommended.
Marabi Nights: Jazz, Race and Society in early Apartheid South Africa by Christopher Ballantine
The second edition of Christopher Ballantine’s classic Marabi Nights: Jazz, ‘Race’ and Society presents a fascinating view of the marabi jazz tradition in South African popular music to a new generation of music fans and scholars of cultural studies, politics and music.
Based on conversations with legendary figures in the world of music as well as a perceptive reading of music, its socio-political history and social meanings, Ballantine’s project is one of sensitive and impassioned curatorship. An accompanying CD of recordings from the 1930s and 1940s yields almost forgotten treasures. A selection of archival images gives the narrative further resonance.
The second edition contains a new chapter on the Manhattan Brothers and singing groups’ adaptation of the American close harmony tradition. Through the prism of popular music, the new edition also goes further in its discussion of gender in the context of forced migrant labour in the 1950s.
The Story of Music by Howard Goodall
Music is an intrinsic part of everyday life, and yet the history of its development from single notes to multi-layered orchestration can seem bewilderingly specialised and complex.
In his dynamic tour through 40,000 years of music, from prehistoric instruments to modern-day pop, Howard Goodall does away with stuffy biographies, unhelpful labels and tired terminology. Instead he leads us through the story of music as it happened, idea by idea, so that each musical innovation – harmony, notation, sung theatre, the orchestra, dance music, recording, broadcasting – strikes us with its original force. He focuses on what changed when and why, picking out the discoveries that revolutionised man-made sound and bringing to life musical visionaries from the little-known Pérotin to the colossus of Wagner. Along the way, he also gives refreshingly clear descriptions of what musicis and how it works: what scales are all about, why some chords sound discordant and what all post-war pop songs have in common.
The story of music is the story of our urge to invent, connect, rebel – and entertain. Howard Goodall’s beautifully clear and compelling account is both a hymn to human endeavour and a groundbreaking map of our musical journey.
“Now comes Howard Goodall and all of everyone’s prayers are answered ..He is sharply witty and entirely on the ball, but he never acts the smart ass and, most importantly, he obviously has deep knowledge of what he is talking about … I prophesy that it will not only win prizes but change lives.“ Rupert Christiansen Daily Telegraph
“The Story of Music is a lively zip through some 45 millennia . jumping back and forth between classical, folk and pop.” Sunday Times
“An accessible guide to roughly 42,000 years of music in just over 300 pages that manages neither to sacfrifice precise detail nor pugnacious opinion…Goodall is unfailingly acute…a clever, engaging read.“ Scotland on Sunday
Shorty and Billy Boy: a Tale of Two Naughty Dogs by Gerard Sekoto
Written and illustrated in 1973 by one of South Africa’s most famous artists, Gerard Sekoto, Shorty and Billy Boy is a book for children as well as art lovers and collectors. The manuscript formed part of a private collection of Sekoto’s sketches, artworks, letters and memoirs repatriated to South Africa from France. The story was clearly written and illustrated as a personal exercise and possibly a sentimental souvenir of his own childhood memories, but has not been published until now.
Sekoto may well have composed it as a gift for children of friends, as he was often engaged in making greeting cards with accompanying illustrations. There are other unfinished stories and musical compositions in the estate collection, but Shorty and Billy Boy is the most complete. It tells the tale of two troublesome dogs whose thieving ways take them to the far-away town of Porcupine Hills. Here they meet all sorts of interesting characters, but continue their mischief until Billy Boy is caught red-handed and sent to jail. Here he dreams about the kindness of others, and comes to realise that good deeds are the true measure of freedom. The result is a timeless and engaging story that retains Sekoto’s unique spirit and imagination.
The Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life edited by Okwui Enwezor and Rory Bester
Photographers played an important role in the documentation of apartheid as they stepped in to capture how the system penetrated even the most mundane aspects of life in South Africa, from housing, public amenities, and transportation to education, tourism, religion, and businesses. Included in this vivid and compelling volume are works by such photographers as Eli Weinberg, Alf Khumalo, David Goldblatt, Peter Magubane, Ian Berry, and many others. Organised chronologically, it interweaves images and thoughtful essays to explore vital issues, including the institutionalisation of apartheid through the country’s legal apparatus; the growing resistance in the 1950s; and the radicalization of the anti-apartheid movement within South Africa and, later, throughout the world. Finally, the book investigates the fall of apartheid, including Mandela’s return from exile. Far-reaching and exhaustively researched, this important book features more than 60 years of powerful photographic material that forms part of the historical record of South Africa.