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Archive for September, 2017

Launch: Bare Ground by Peter Harris (5 October)

Max Sinclair is the CEO of Wits Mining, which is in the process of selling a share of the company to a consortium. As the deal-making gathers pace there are casualties on all sides as corporate and political intrigue spiral, and Johannesburg reveals its true colours as a gritty mining town. Bare Ground is an acerbic exploration of post-apartheid South Africa, with a particular focus on the deepening corruption and cronyism that is threatening the country’s long-term development.

Peter Harris has gathered many accolades for his non-fiction writing. In a Different Time: The Inside Story of the Delmas Four was awarded the prestigious Sunday Times Alan Paton award as well as the Booksellers’ Choice Award in 2009. He is also the author of the best-selling Birth: The Conspiracy to Stop the ’94 Election.

Harris commented: ‘In a Different Time was a book about the 1980s, and an extraordinary treason trial. It also chronicled the huge sacrifices that were made to bring about democracy in South Africa. My second book, Birth, was about the transition in the early 1990s and the extreme challenges that the country encountered in getting to and conducting the 1994 election, in the face of significant odds. This novel, located in the cauldron of Johannesburg, is about the society we have become.’

 
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Listen to Achmat Dangor chat about Dikeledi and Bitter Fruit over a cup of tea

Join us as Pippa Smith chats to Achmat Dangor about two of his books Bitter Fruit (shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for 2004) and Dikeledi.

Dikeledi is a story of an ordinary family in the extraordinary days of apartheid. It is a beautifully told family saga set at a time of forced removals and the creation of bantustans. South African politics is background to the struggle of a family to stay together. The story is brought together by a young girl born in Harlem.

Bitter Fruit is a magnificently told story set after democracy in South Africa and during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Once again the family is the crucible for the battle of truth and forgiveness. You will want to read this.
 
 
 
 

Details:

Date: Thursday, 28 September 2017
Time: 10:30 for 11:00
Venue: 73 Tyrwhitt Avenue, Birdhaven
Price: R100 for tea and snacks (please advise of any food allergies)
Street parking
RSVP: Pippa Smith on pippa@thebookrevue.co.za or Camilla Twigg on camillatwigg@mweb.co.za
 

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“A powerful and though-provoking novel”: Margaret von Klemperer reviews Dikeledi

Published in The Witness

It has been a while since we had a new novel from Achmat Dangor, and in Dikeledi he has given us a complex and wide-ranging family saga that spans the years from 1970 to the present, set against the backdrop of South Africa’s turbulent political past and its disturbing current reality.

Among the characters are Patrick Tau, a stern, silent figure who is the son of a respected pastor from Mahikeng – or Mafeking, or Mafikeng. Names, their changes and the reasons behind them are a recurring theme in the novel. Then there is Patrick’s wife Julia/Baile and their children, Pitso/Peter and Dikeledi/Miriam. At the outset, they live in the mixed suburb of Newclare, but the Group Areas act will soon put paid to that, forcing them back to the apartheid homeland of Bophutatswana.

The story then jumps forward eight years, to 1978. Julia has left Patrick and returned to Johannesburg, where she is living with her female lover. In the first half of the book, Julia is the most realised and most intriguing character. But politics, and the involvement of her daughter in the struggle send her back to Patrick from the life she has carved out for herself.

Fast forward again, and now the main weight of the story is carried by another Dikeledi, this time Pitso’s daughter who was born in New York to Pitso and his African-American wife. Following the deaths of her parents, she returns to South Africa, leaving her lecturing job to become a journalist. And what she uncovers pitches her and her South African Indian boyfriend into danger as a brutal history of struggle veterans and traitors is revealed.

The novel is driven more by plot than character, and Dangor raises all kinds of issues – exile, displacement, belonging, politics, Aids, and always the apartheid past. As one character says: “we have sanctified the struggle”, but buried in it too were treachery and hatreds which are revealed and which stretch long tentacles into the present. There are moments in the latter part of the book when the saga aspect gives way to a political thriller, which does cause a certain unevenness of tone, but in general, Dangor handles his content in a more than competent manner. And, in doing so, he has created a powerful and thought-provoking novel of South Africa, its past, its challenges and possible hope for its future.

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Launch: Bare Ground by Peter Harris (3 October)

Max Sinclair is the CEO of Wits Mining, which is in the process of selling a share of the company to a consortium. As the deal-making gathers pace there are casualties on all sides as corporate and political intrigue spiral, and Johannesburg reveals its true colours as a gritty mining town. Bare Ground is an acerbic exploration of post-apartheid South Africa, with a particular focus on the deepening corruption and cronyism that is threatening the country’s long-term development.

Peter Harris has gathered many accolades for his non-fiction writing. In a Different Time: The Inside Story of the Delmas Four was awarded the prestigious Sunday Times Alan Paton award as well as the Booksellers’ Choice Award in 2009. He is also the author of the best-selling Birth: The Conspiracy to Stop the ’94 Election.

Harris commented: ‘In a Different Time was a book about the 1980s, and an extraordinary treason trial. It also chronicled the huge sacrifices that were made to bring about democracy in South Africa. My second book, Birth, was about the transition in the early 1990s and the extreme challenges that the country encountered in getting to and conducting the 1994 election, in the face of significant odds. This novel, located in the cauldron of Johannesburg, is about the society we have become.’

Book details


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Launch: The Blessed Girl by Angela Makholwa (26 October)

Blesser n. [pronounced blessa] a person (usually male and married) who sponsors a younger woman with luxury gifts or a luxurious lifestyle in exchange for a short- to medium-term sexual relationship.

Blessee n. [pronounced blessi] a person (usually female) who lives a luxurious lifestyle funded by an older, sometimes married partner in return for sexual favours.

When you are accustomed to the finer things in life – designer shoes, champagne, VIP lounges, exotic holidays abroad, a luxury penthouse, expensive wheels – what independent young woman in her right mind would want to let them go? Certainly not the beautiful, ambitious and super-streetsmart Bontle Tau, the girl who has used her good looks and winning charm all her life to get exactly what she wants.

The lifestyle doesn’t come cheap, though, nor does maintaining the body that allows it (just ask Dr Heinz at the beauty clinic). Luckily, Bontle has a degree in MENcology, and there is no shortage of blessers at her penthouse door, eager to give her all the love and (financial) support she needs. Papa Jeff might be overweight and getting on a bit, and receiving some unwanted attention from the Hawks; and Teddy might not have fully come through for her on that messed-up tender business; but Mr Emmanuel, the Nigerian businessman with deep pockets and the possibility of conferring second wife status … could that be love?

Keeping all her boyfriends happy and living a fabulous life is not without its challenges. With so many people clamouring for Bontle’s attention – from her shebeen queen mother Gladys in Mamelodi, who is taking strain bringing up her teenaged brother, Golokile, on her own; to her girlfriends, Iris and Tsholo; not to mention her soon-to-be ex-husband, the ever-patient, ever-loving Ntokozo, Bontle barely has time to post on Instagram these days.

Sooner or later something’s got to give …

Angela Makholwa lives and works in Johannesburg. The Blessed Girl is her highly anticipated fourth novel, following on from the bestselling Red Ink (2007), The 30th Candle (2009) and Black Widow Society (2013).

 

The Blessed Girl

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A Column of Fire: Ken Follett’s captivating third novel in the Kingsbridge series

The saga that has enthralled the millions of readers of The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End now continues with Ken Follett’s magnificent, gripping A Column of Fire.

Christmas 1558, and young Ned Willard returns home to Kingsbridge to find his world has changed.

The ancient stones of Kingsbridge Cathedral look down on a city torn by religious hatred. Europe is in turmoil as high principles clash bloodily with friendship, loyalty and love, and Ned soon finds himself on the opposite side from the girl he longs to marry, Margery Fitzgerald.

Then Elizabeth Tudor becomes queen and all of Europe turns against England.

The shrewd, determined young monarch sets up the country’s first secret service to give her early warning of assassination plots, rebellions and invasion plans.

Elizabeth knows that alluring, headstrong Mary Queen of Scots lies in wait in Paris. Part of a brutally ambitious French family, Mary has been proclaimed the rightful ruler of England, with her own supporters scheming to get rid of the new queen.

Over a turbulent half-century, the love between Ned and Margery seems doomed, as extremism sparks violence from Edinburgh to Geneva. With Elizabeth clinging precariously to her throne and her principles, protected by a small, dedicated group of resourceful spies and courageous secret agents, it becomes clear that the real enemies – then as now – are not the rival religions.

The true battle pitches those who believe in tolerance and compromise against the tyrants who would impose their ideas on everyone else – no matter the cost.

Ken Follett was twenty-seven when he wrote Eye of the Needle, an award-winning thriller that became an international bestseller. He then surprised everyone with The Pillars of the Earth, about the building of a cathedral in the Middle Ages, which continues to captivate millions of readers all over the world, and its long-awaited sequel, World Without End, was a number one bestseller in the US, UK and Europe. He has written the bestselling Century trilogy, which comprises Fall of Giants, Winter of the World and Edge of Eternity. This is the third novel in the Kingsbridge series.

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Paul Theron in conversation with Lorenzo Fioramonti (19 September)

Paul Theron, CEO of Vestact and contributor to the CNBC Africa show Hotstoxx will interview Lorenzo Fioramonti, author of Wellbeing Economy.

This is sure to be both interesting and thought provoking in a country where existing practices don’t work and we seem to be running out of options. Come and be part of the solution!

Using real-life examples and innovative research, acclaimed political economist Lorenzo Fioramonti lays bare society’s perverse obsession with economic growth by showing its many flaws, paradoxes and inconsistencies. He argues that the pursuit of growth often results in more losses than gains and in damage, inequalities and conflicts. By breaking free from the growth mantra, we can build a better society that puts the wellbeing of all at its centre. A wellbeing economy would have tremendous impact on everything we do, boosting small businesses and empowering citizens as the collective leaders of tomorrow. Wellbeing Economy is a manifesto for radical change in South Africa and beyond.

Lorenzo Fioramonti is a professor of Political Economy at the University of Pretoria, where he directs the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation (www.governanceinnovation.org). He also holds the UNESCO-UNU Chair in Regional Integration, Migration and Free Movement of People and is the first president of the European Union Studies Association of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Paul Theron is the co-host of the Hot Stoxx show on CNBC Africa. He is also the founder and CEO of Vestact, a Johannesburg private client asset management firm. Theron was named in 2013 as one of The 106 Finance People You Have To Follow On Twitter by Business Insider.

Event Details

  • Date: Tuesday, 19 September 2017
  • Time: 6:30 PM for 6:45 PM
  • Venue: Glenda’s Restaurant, Glenda’s, Hyde Park Shopping Centre, 285 Jan Smuts Avenue | Map
  • Guest Speaker: Paul Theron
  • Cover charge: R350, includes a delicious supper and wine
  • RSVP: Pippa Smith, pippa@thebookrevue.co.za or Camilla Twigg, camillatwigg@mweb.co.za
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“Biko’s words are his most profound and lasting endowment”: remembering Steve Biko (18 December 1946 – 12 September 1977)

The 12th of September 2017 marks 40 years since the murder of activist and Black Consciousness leader, Steve Biko, who died on 12 September 1977 from wounds sustained whilst in police custody.

Today we commemorate Biko’s life with the following extracts from No Fears Expressed. First published in 1987, No Fears Expressed is a compilation of quotes taken from the words of Biko. Sourced from the iconic I Write What I Like, including the collection of Biko’s columns published in the journal of the South Africa Student Organisation under the pseudonym of ‘Frank Talk’, as well as from The Testimony of Steve Biko (edited by Millard W. Arnold), this book contains many inspirational quotes and thoughts that are still relevant in South African society today.

Biko’s words fall under a wide range of topics including racism, blackwhite relations, remedies for apartheid, colonialism, black rage and township life. All are topics that reflect the ever-present divide that exists between black and white South Africans.

Steve Biko would have been 70 years old in 2017. His place in history is firmly cemented and the struggle that he gave his life for continues. He left a legacy of thoughts and words, and these words pay tribute to the courage and power of the young leader who was to become one of Africa’s heroes:

It is Biko’s legacy that in South Africa the phrase ‘Black Consciousness’ will always and inextricably be linked to him because it was his genius that constructed such a compellingly simple message.

‘Black Consciousness,’ he wrote, ‘takes cognisance of the deliberateness of God’s plan in creating black people black. It seeks to infuse the black community with a newfound pride in themselves, their efforts, their value system, their culture, their religion and their outlook on life.’

We are left now with nothing but Biko’s words; some spoken, some recorded but mostly those that are transcribed.

Words that after years of maturation remain as emotive and insightful as the day they were first written. It is these words, these thoughts, these ideas, this consciousness that he bequeathed us, that will never be forgotten. Biko’s words are his most profound and lasting endowment; they touch you where your soul and truth begin.

Book details

No Fears Expressed

 
 
 
 

I Write What I Like


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Launch: Dikeledi by Achmat Dangor (14 September)

An evocative and finely detailed novel of ordinary life under apartheid that follows the lives of a family, particularly the women of various generations, who are named Dikeledi, who together form the backbone of the story.

Dikeledi captures, carefully and movingly, the essence of the turbulent days in which it is set. The focus on family drama within an incredibly difficult social situation, the small daily struggles rather than the huge challenges that conventionally make for ‘good’ archival footage, are what sets the novel apart from other literature that deals with the period.

Dikeledi

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Watch – Achmat Dangor talks about Dikeledi: Child of Tears, No More

An evocative and finely detailed novel of ordinary life under apartheid that follows the lives of a family, particularly the women of various generations, who are named Dikeledi, who together form the backbone of the story.

Dikeledi captures, carefully and movingly, the essence of the turbulent days in which it is set. The focus on family drama within an incredibly difficult social situation, the small daily struggles rather than the huge challenges that conventionally make for ‘good’ archival footage, are what sets the novel apart from other literature that deals with the period

Here Achmat discusses his remarkable book on Polity.org:

Dikeledi

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Bitter Fruit


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