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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

Launch: A Spy in Time by Imraan Coovadia (18 July)

Making sure the end of the world never happens again – that is Enver Eleven’s task. A spy for the Historical Agency, Enver is based in Johannesburg, the only city to survive – thanks to its mining tunnels – when a supernova hit.

In Enver’s Joburg time-travelling agents jump between the past and future, searching for an elusive enemy plotting against the Agency. Enver’s mission starts off on shaky ground: when his mentor Shanumi Six disappears, Enver must prove that he is no double agent, an allegation as frightening as a white skin in a world where it has become vanishingly rare.

But if you could go back and change the past, would the future turn out the way you want it to? Imraan Coovadia’s dazzlingly original A Spy in Time is an extraordinary tale for extraordinary times.

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Launch: A Spy in Time by Imraan Coovadia (11 July)

Making sure the end of the world never happens again – that is Enver Eleven’s task. A spy for the Historical Agency, Enver is based in Johannesburg, the only city to survive – thanks to its mining tunnels – when a supernova hit.

In Enver’s Joburg time-travelling agents jump between the past and future, searching for an elusive enemy plotting against the Agency. Enver’s mission starts off on shaky ground: when his mentor Shanumi Six disappears, Enver must prove that he is no double agent, an allegation as frightening as a white skin in a world where it has become vanishingly rare.

But if you could go back and change the past, would the future turn out the way you want it to? Imraan Coovadia’s dazzlingly original A Spy in Time is an extraordinary tale for extraordinary times.

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There is a sadness in the story, but also humour – Margaret von Klemperer reviews The Boy Who Could Keep a Swan in his Head

Published in the Witness (25/06/2018)

Set in the then all-white suburb of Hillbrow in 1967, John Hunt’s novel is a moving evocation of a difficult and different childhood. While the setting might seem strange to those who know Hillbrow in its current manifestation, Hunt’s fine descriptive writing makes it an important and evocative backdrop to the story. But centre stage is occupied by 11 year old Phen.

His real name is Stephen, but he is a stutterer who has more trouble with the letter “S” than any other, so Phen at least offers him a chance to articulate his name. Teased at school by peers and teachers alike, his life is tough. And to compound his problems, his father is dying, slowly and painfully.

His one solace is to get Phen to read to him after school, taking the child into the worlds of Hemingway, Truman Capote and John le Carré, adding colour to the Cold War fantasy games Phen plays in the park while walking his dog. But eventually even his father deserts him in favour of a new-fangled reel to reel tape-deck and non-stuttering audio books.

Feeling sad and supplanted, he befriends a hobo in the park, who tells Phen his name is Heb Thirteen Two, something Phen will eventually decode with surprising consequences which at one point take the reader into what feels like fantasy. But that’s not what it is.

Writing from the standpoint of a child is extraordinarily difficult to do successfully. Hunt makes Phen completely believable, neither too cute nor improbably knowing, as he deals with the tragedy of his father’s impending death and observes with the clear eye of pre-adolescence the behaviour of the adults who surround him. There is sadness in the story, but also humour – Phen’s turn as a tree in the class production of A Midsummer-Night’s Dream is hilarious.

But despite his problems with speech, Phen’s reading has taught him the power of words and given him a love of books. And once he has worked out what Heb Thirteen Two’s name might mean, a new dimension of comfort is added to his life, though Hunt avoids the obvious and the cliched. The ending of the book is deeply moving but the reader can be filled with hope for Phen’s future.

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Launch: Homeland by Karin Brynard (21 June)

Captain Albertus Beeslaar has had enough of the Kalahari. He is about to hand in his resignation, but before doing so he is sent into the heart of an ancient San community: an elder has died after being released from police custody and the San blame the police. The small town of Witdraai borders on the world-famous Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, where the last of the Kalahari San eke out a living. A violent attack on a German tourist has unsettled the whole town – a case that is rubbing up Beeslaar’s new colleague, Colonel Koekoes Mentoor, the wrong way. She wants to turn her back on Witdraai and the bad memories the place holds for her.

As the heat rises, all hell breaks loose: a policeman is murdered; deep-seated corruption is threatening a major land-restitution plan for the San; and a mysterious killer is prowling the red dunes. Amid all the controversy, Kytie Rooi, a cleaner at a luxury guesthouse in Upington and self-appointed protector of a strange street child, is fleeing into the deadly heat of the desert with her charge. In this world, places of safety are dangerously elusive.

Homeland is the translation of the number one bestseller Tuisland, Karin Brynard’s critically acclaimed and most ambitious novel to date.

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Launch: Heist! by Anneliese Burgess (11 June)

‘With meticulous journalism and at a cracking pace, Burgess exposes the inner mechanics of cash heists and the complicity of police officers …’ – Mandy Wiener, author of Ministry of Crime

From the horror of the 2006 Villa Nora heist – in which four security guards were burnt alive in their armoured vehicle after a ferocious fight-back against highly trained mercenaries – to the 2014 robbery of a cash centre in Witbank, where a gang made off with almost R104 million after impersonating police officers, Heist! is an impeccably researched exposé of an endemic crime phenomenon that some analysts warn could bring South Africa to its knees.

Using the information gleaned from thousands of pages of court documents and press reports, as well as interviews with police officers, crime intelligence agents, prosecutors, defence lawyers, researchers, journalists, security guards and the criminals themselves, Heist! provides unprecedented insight into a crime that increased by a staggering 49 per cent in the first eight months of 2017 alone.

As informative and thought-provoking as it is distressing, this is a book by an investigative journalist at the top of her game.

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Win a copy of Bill Clinton and James Patterson’s The President is Missing!

There are things only a president can know.
There are things only a president can do.
And there are times when the only option is unthinkable…

 
Amid an international crisis, the impossible has happened. A sitting U.S. President has disappeared.

What follows is the most dramatic three days any president has ever faced – and maybe the most dramatic three days in American history.

And it could all really happen.

Full of details only a president could know, Bill Clinton and James Patterson have written the most authentic – and gripping – presidential thriller ever.

Bill Clinton was elected president of the United States in 1992, and he served until 2001. After leaving the White House, he established the Clinton Foundation, which helps improve global health, increase opportunity for girls and women, reduce childhood obesity and preventable diseases, creates economic opportunity and growth, and addresses the effects of climate change. He is the author of a number of nonfiction works, including My Life, which was an international bestseller. This is his first novel.

James Patterson received the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community from the National Book Foundation. He holds the Guinness World Record for the most #1 New York Times bestsellers, and his books have sold more than 375 million copies worldwide. A tireless champion of the power of books and reading, Patterson created a new children’s book imprint, JIMMY Patterson, whose mission is simple: “We want every kid who finishes a JIMMY Book to say, ‘PLEASE GIVE ME ANOTHER BOOK.’”

Two copies of the book (valued at R290) PLUS two t-shirts (medium) are up for grabs! To stand a chance of winning, simply answer the following question: Who are the local publishers of this thrilling novel? Send your answer to our editor, Mila de Villiers: mila@book.co.za. The cut-off date for entries is 30 June 2018.

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Cuddle Me, Kill Me is a true account of South Africa’s captive lion breeding and canned hunting industry

Canned lion hunting sprang to the world’s attention with the 2015 launch of the documentary, Blood Lions. This movie blew the cover off a brutal industry that has burgeoned in the last decade or so, operating largely under the radar of public concern.

In Cuddle Me Kill Me, veteran wildlife campaigner Richard Peirce reveals horrifying facts about the industry. He tells

  • The true story of two male lions rescued from breeding farms
  • The exploitation and misery of these apex predators when they are bred in captivity
  • How young cubs are removed from their mothers mere hours after birth
  • How they are first used for petting by an adoring (and paying) public
  • Their subsequent use for ‘walking with lions’ tourism
  • And how, in the final stage of exploitation, they are served up in fenced enclosure for execution by canned hunters – or simply shot by breeders for the value of their carcass, a prized product in the East.

Well researched by Peirce with the help of an undercover agent, and illustrated with photos taken along the way, this is a disturbing and passionate plea to end commercial captive lion breeding and the repurposing of wildlife to cater for human greed.

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Launch: Heist! by Anneliese Burgess (30 May)

‘With meticulous journalism and at a cracking pace, Burgess exposes the inner mechanics of cash heists and the complicity of police officers …’ – Mandy Wiener, author of Ministry of Crime

From the horror of the 2006 Villa Nora heist – in which four security guards were burnt alive in their armoured vehicle after a ferocious fight-back against highly trained mercenaries – to the 2014 robbery of a cash centre in Witbank, where a gang made off with almost R104 million after impersonating police officers, Heist! is an impeccably researched exposé of an endemic crime phenomenon that some analysts warn could bring South Africa to its knees.

Using the information gleaned from thousands of pages of court documents and press reports, as well as interviews with police officers, crime intelligence agents, prosecutors, defence lawyers, researchers, journalists, security guards and the criminals themselves, Heist! provides unprecedented insight into a crime that increased by a staggering 49 per cent in the first eight months of 2017 alone.

As informative and thought-provoking as it is distressing, this is a book by an investigative journalist at the top of her game.

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 30 May 2018
  • Time: 6:00 PM for 6:30 PM
  • Venue: Love Books, The Bamboo Lifestyle Centre, 53 Rustenburg Rd, Melville, Johannesburg | Map
  • Guest Speaker: Karyn Maughan
  • RSVP: kate@lovebooks.co.za
     

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Not always a comfortable read, but a fascinating exploration of two people – Margaret von Klemperer reviews Ceridwen Dovey’s In the Garden of the Fugitives

Published in the Witness: 23 May 2018

In the Garden of the Fugitives
Ceridwen Dovey

CERIDWEN Dovey was born in South Africa, raised in South Africa and Australia, studied in America and now lives in Australia. The relevance of all this is that one of the main characters in this fascinating and complex novel follows the same path. So the author, as she traces Vita’s emotional difficulties with this inheritance, knows of what she writes.

Dovey has chosen to hark back to one of the earliest novel forms in the Western canon – an epistolary story, one written in the form of letters, which are now updated to emails.

The two correspondents are Vita, who lives in the Australian town of Mudgee, and Royce, who during Vita’s years studying in America was a Svengali-like figure who gave her a scholarship from his wealthy foundation but expected favours in return. He is now dying and, in opening the correspondence, proclaims a “craven need for absolution” both from Vita and from his dead love, Kitty Lushington, in whose name he set up the foundation.
 

One of the questions in any first-person novel – and this one has two first persons – is how far can you trust the narrator? As Royce and Vita set out their lives both before and after their estrangement, they often seem to be writing past each other rather than to each other. It is a clever way of building up their history, allowing the observer (the reader) to guess at hidden things, referred to obliquely.

Royce’s first love, long before he met Vita, was Kitty, an archaeologist working in the ruins of Pompeii. She was in love with her older Italian mentor, and tolerated and used the dog-like devotion of Royce. But we know from an early stage in the book that Kitty died young, though only at the end do we almost discover how.
Vita studied anthropology and film making in America. After graduating, she returned to the South Africa of her childhood, where she faced the rootlessness of the perpetual exile along with the white liberal guilt and angst that stifled her creativity to a crippling extent. Dovey cleverly juxtaposes these anxieties with those of the archaeologists who are trying to recreate not just a long vanished civilisation but the agony of its death throes.

In the Garden of the Fugitives is not always a comfortable read, but it is a fascinating exploration of two people, neither wholly likeable but both deserving of some of our sympathy, as they reveal themselves not just to each other but to themselves. Dovey deserves the plaudits she has received as an up and coming force in fiction.

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Launch: Death Cup by Irna van Zyl (24 May)

Murder is on the menu.

Detective Storm van der Merwe and Andreas Moerdyk are back in this brand-new thriller by Irna van Zyl, author of Dead in the Water.

Storm now works in Hermanus and during a lunch with her friend at Zebardines, a much-hated food blogger keels over and dies. It turns out that there were deadly mushrooms, death cups, in her food.

Finding out who killed the blogger is Storm’s first priority, but not the only matter requiring her attention: her old colleague, Andreas Moerdyk, quit his job unexpectedly and expects Storm to put him up while he makes a new start in Hermanus.

Amid frantic preparations for Fooddotcom’s prize-giving ceremony that will honour the country’s best chefs, the murderer strikes again, and again.

Storm’s time is running out.

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