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Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category

The man behind the character: True-life inspiration in Mark Winkler’s The Safest Place You Know

The man behind the character: True-life inspiration in Mark Winkler’s The Safest Place You Know


The Safest Place You KnowMark Winkler’s new novel, The Safest Place You Know, features a character named Victor Pereira, whose life is altered irrevocably after an encounter with the police in apartheid South Africa.

Victor’s astounding story is based on that of an actual person.

Here the author shares the real-life inspiration behind the character:

Twelve or thirteen years ago, I began a conversation with Victor Jansen, a security guard at the advertising agency where I worked at the time. He told me how a vindictive neighbour had years before set the police on him, and how he had been racially reclassified on the spot, going from white to coloured in a matter of minutes, an event that forced him out of his home and his neighbourhood, while his wife and daughter remained “white”. The character of Victor Pereira in this book is an acknowledgement of the cheerfully eccentric Victor Jansen.

Probably the most humiliating, and frankly insane, tool of the apartheid eugenics machine was the “pencil test”. It enabled even the most minor official to reclassify someone by shoving a pencil into the person’s hair. The person would then be required to shake his or her head: if the pencil fell out, they were deemed to be white, and if it remained in the hair, they could, depending on the mood of the examiner, be classified as coloured or black. An added humiliation could take the form of the examination of the victim’s pubic hair.

Rendered in meticulously crafted, lyrical prose, The Safest Place You Know is a powerful story about redemption and recovery, and what it means to carry the past with you. Set in South Africa against the backdrop of a country in flux, this evocative novel showcases Winkler’s stylistic flair.

About the book

After his father’s violent death on a hot November day in the droughtstricken Free State, a young man leaves the derelict family farm with no plan, and with no way of knowing that his life will soon be changed for ever by two strangers he encounters on his journey south: a mute little girl who bears a striking resemblance to his late niece, and a troubled lawyer who detests the Cape wine estate she’s inherited from a father she despised.

The Safest Place You Know is a powerful story, rendered in meticulously crafted, lyrical prose.

About the author

An Exceptionally Simple Theory (of Absolutely Everything)WastedMark Winkler is the author of the critically acclaimed novels An Exceptionally Simple Theory (of Absolutely Everything) and Wasted, which was longlisted for the 2016 Sunday Times Barry Ronge Fiction Prize. His short story “When I Came Home” was shortlisted for the 2016 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and “Ink” was awarded third place in the 2016 Short Story Africa competition.

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Don’t miss the launch of Not Without A Fight by Helen Zille at Exclusive Books Hyde Park

Invitation to the launch of Not Without A Fight

Not Without A Fight: The AutobiographyPenguin Random House and Exclusive Books invite you to the launch of Helen Zille’s new book, Not Without A Fight: The Autobiography.

The event will take place on Thursday, 27 October, at Exclusive Books Hyde Park.

Zille will be in conversation with Ferial Haffajee.

See you there!

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Join Karin Brynard and Mike Nicol for the launch of their new novels at The Book Lounge

Join Karin Brynard and Mike Nicol for the launch of their new novels at The Book Lounge
Agents of the StateOur Fathers

Join Penguin Random House for a night of thrilling crime fiction at The Book Lounge, as Agents of the State by Mike Nicol and Our Fathers by Karin Brynard are launched.

The event is happening on Wednesday, 26 October at 5:30 for 6:00 PM.

Brynard and Nicol will be in conversation with Irna van Zyl.

See you there!

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday, 26 October 2016
  • Time: 5:30 for 6:00 PM
  • Venue: The Book Lounge
    71 Roeland St
    Cape Town | Map
  • Guest Speaker: Irna van Zyl
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine
  • RSVP: The Book Lounge,, 021 462 2425

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Join Mike Nicol for the launch of Agents of the State at Kalk Bay Books

Agents Of The StateDon’t miss the launch of Agents of the State, the new book from Mike Nicol, at Kalk Bay Books.

Nicol will be in conversation with Cape Talk host Pippa Hudson.

See you there!

About the book

Bring in the child tracker. That’s Agent Vicki Kahn’s assignment, her first foreign mission for the State Security Agency. That the child tracker is a top fashion model with connections to the president’s son is an added complication. Especially when Vicki watches as the model’s limp body is wheeled away at Schiphol airport. Then, in Berlin, she finds her contact dead on the kitchen floor, shot in the head. Get out, Vicki’s instincts tell her. Get out now.

Vicki’s lover, PI Fish Pescado, is working another case. Find out who shot my husband, is his brief. The husband: a rebel colonel from the Central African Republic taken down in a spray of bullets on the steps of St George’s Cathedral. As Fish digs he comes up against a local connection: none other than the South African president. Drop the case, he’s warned. Go surfing. And take your girlfriend Vicki Kahn with you before it’s too late. Secrets, conspiracies, vested interests, commie plots. Vicki and Fish are caught in the mix, with only one way out …


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Wen 1 van 3 eksemplare van Hoe verklaar jy dit? deur Danny Fourie – nou beskikbaar!

Hoe verklaar jy dit?Hoe verklaar jy dit? saamgestel deur Danny Fourie is nou beskikbaar op Penguin se rakke, en drie gelukkige lesers kan elkeen ’n kopie daarvan wen:

“Ons leef in ’n wonderlike wêreld. Gelukkig is hy wat die oorsaak van dinge verstaan.”
– Vergilius (Romeinse digter)

Ons weet dat die maan iets met die getye te doen het, maar het jy geweet dat jy met volmaan altyd dieselfde kant van die maan sien? Of dat weerligstrale vol vernietigende elektrisiteit is, maar dat ’n elektriese paling ’n lading van tot 600 volt kan vrystel?

Hierdie feite is deel van ’n magdom kennis oor die natuur, fisiese wetenskap en die ruimte wat die RSG-program Hoe verklaar jy dit? reeds jare lank beantwoord. Hierdie publikasie bevat ’n keur uit die honderde vrae van nuuskierige luisteraars wat deur kundiges verduidelik is om die wêreld minder vreemd te maak, want nie alle kennis van die wêreld om ons is voor die hand liggend nie. Daar is honderde verskynsels in die natuur en ruimte wat vra om verklaar te word. Dan praat ons nie eens van die mensgemaakte uitvindings soos die internet, persoonlike rekenaars, globale posisioneringstelsels, selfone, radiogolwe, teorie van evolusie, relatiwiteitsteorie, narkose en mense in die ruimte nie.

Agter die alledaagse skuil die fassinerende werking van kragte en wette en die wetenskap in werking: Wat bepaal dat ’n mens se hart aan die linkerkant van die liggaam sit? Hoekom vries water in ’n dam van bo en nie van onder af nie? Kan gene deur omstandighede gemodifiseer word? Hoe verklaar jy dit? is ’n boek wat jou belangstelling in die wêreld om jou sal prikkel. Dit is ’n boek wat op sy eie gelees kan word, wat op die koffietafel kan lê en wat saam kan gaan kamp om wonderlike gesprekke om die braaivleisvuur uit te lok.

Voltooi die kompetisievorm voor 22 Oktober 2016 om in aanmerking te kom vir die prys. Slegs een inskrywing per persoon word toegelaat.


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Helen Zille’s long-awaited autobiography: One of the most fascinating political stories of our time

Not Without A Fightin Not Without A Fight: The Autobiography, Helen Zille takes the reader back to her humble family origins, her struggle with anorexia as a young woman, her early career as a journalist for the Rand Daily Mail, and her involvement with the End Conscription Campaign and the Black Sash. She documents her early days in the Democratic Party and the Democratic Alliance, at a time when the party was locked in a no-holds-barred factional conflict. And she chronicles the intense political battles to become mayor of Cape Town, leader of the DA and premier of the Western Cape, in the face of dirty tricks from the ANC and infighting within her own party.


Helen Zille's long-awaited autobiography: One of the most fascinating political stories of our time


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Recommended listening: The soundtrack to Mike Nicol’s Agents Of The State, with notes by the author

Agents Of The StateMusic is central to Mike Nicol’s new crime thriller, Agents Of The State, which features references to a variety of songs and artists. The author shares the sounds that made their way into Agents of the State, with notes to explain their context and significance. Fittingly for this cosmopolitan novel, artists included in the soundtrack hail from all over the world, and include Aretha Franklin, Melissa Etheridge, Petula Clark, Wendy Oldfield, and Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter, among many others.

Listen to the songs and sounds that shaped Agents of the State and read the stories behind them:

One January, a few years back, I had a flight cancelled which resulted in a six-hour wait at Schiphol airport. It seemed to be as good a time as any to start writing a novel and I decided, what the heck, why not set the scene right where I was in one of the many departure lounges. So I popped one of the main characters, Vicki Kahn (she first appeared in my novel Of Cops & Robbers), down on the sofa and began writing.

I had been thinking quite a lot about Vicki Kahn on the flight north and kept coming back to a CD by Melissa Etheridge that had been on the KLM playlist. The music seemed to fit the character’s mood. Especially this song, “Falling Up”:

and for a long while the book had a working title of “Falling Up”. That trip also included a stop in Berlin, where I managed to buy the CD.

As with my other crime novels there are a number of songs that worked their way into this story. Here are some of them:
Aretha Franklin’s “Say A Little Prayer”:

Petula Clark’s “Downtown”:

Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”:

Melissa Etheridge’s “4th Street Feeling”:

Melissa Etheridge’s “Shadow of a Black Crow”:

Then there are some singers referred to (Adele being one of them) and, although no songs were mentioned, these were what I had in mind:

Shawn Colvin’s “These Four Walls”:

Alison Krauss, with Robert Plant: “Through the Morning, Through the Night”:

Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter’s “The Air Is Thin”:

Just as local songwriter/singer, Jim Neversink, was on my Of Cops & Robbers playlist, so during the writing of Agents of the State two other locals pitched up at nearby venues, Laurie Levine and Wendy Oldfield. So they found their way into the playlist as well. Here’s Laurie Levine’s lovely “Oh Brother”:

And Wendy Oldfield singing (what else but) “Acid Rain” (which really needs to be watched live):

Sound effects

You can find all kinds of weird stuff on YouTube and at one point I searched for battle sound effects to aid my description of a firefight. Apparently there are people who like listening to the sound of gunfire:

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Don’t miss the launch of Our Fathers by Karin Brynard with Michele Magwood at Love Books

Invitation to the launch of Our Fathers

Our FathersPenguin Random House and Love Books invite you to the launch of Our Fathers by Karin Brynard.

The launch will take place on Thursday, 6 October at Love Books in Melville.

Brynard’s first two novels, Plaasmoord and Onse vaders, took the South African market by storm, becoming instant bestsellers. She has won numerous literary awards, including the UJ Debut Prize for Creative Writing and two M-Net Awards.

The author will be in conversation with Michele Magwood. Don’t miss it!

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, 6 October 2016
  • Time: 6:00 PM for 6:30 PM
  • Venue: Love Books
    The Bamboo Lifestyle Centre
    53 Rustenburg Road
    Johannesburg | Map
  • Guest Speaker: Michele Magwood
  • Refreshments: Come and join us for a glass of wine
  • RSVP:, 011 726 7408

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Read an exclusive excerpt from Sally Andrew’s new mystery: Tannie Maria and the Satanic Mechanic

Read an exclusive excerpt from Sally Andrew’s new Tannie Maria mystery: Tannie Maria and the Satanic Mechanic

Tannie Maria and the Satanic MechanicUmuzi has shared an exclusive excerpt from their much anticipated new release Tannie Maria and the Satanic Mechanic by Sally Andrew.

Andrew’s bestselling debut, Recipes for Love and Murder, won the coveted Booksellers’ Choice Award and Kirkus Best Book of 2015, and was given the thumbs up by the Wall Street Journal and the Oprah Book Club.

The book was published in 17 countries (and counting) and is being translated into 11 languages.

The follow-up, Tannie Maria and the Satanic Mechanic, is being released locally this month. Scroll down for an excerpt!

About the book

Everybody’s favourite agony aunt and crime fighter Tannie Maria needs some counselling advice of her own. Lingering troubles from a previous marriage still sit heavy on her, while fresh worries about Slimkat, a local man whose fighting for his people’s land threatens his life, keep her up at night.

Tannie Maria seeks out counsellor, jokily known to all as “the satanic mechanic”. Straight out of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and from hot-as-hell Hotazel, Ricus fixes both cars and people.

But Maria’s counselling tune-up switches gears when a murder flings her straight into Detective Henk Kannemeyer’s investigation. Not only is she dating the dashing Henk, she now has to work beside him: a potential recipe for disaster.

Blending an intriguing mystery with characters as lovable as the setting of the rural Klein Karoo, this book is Sally Andrew’s delightful, warmhearted sequel to Recipes for Love and Murder.

About the author

Sally Andrew lives in a mud-brick house on a nature reserve in the Klein Karoo with her artist partner, a giant eland, and a secretive leopard. She also spends time in the wilderness of southern Africa and the seaside suburb of Muizenberg. She has a master’s in Adult Education from the University of Cape Town. Before settling down to write full time, she was a social and environmental activist.

Read an excerpt:

We heard a car backfiring as it parked in Eland Street.

‘That’s probably them now.’ She got up and stood at the door, and I put on the kettle.

I heard Slimkat before I saw him, his voice quiet but strong as he spoke to Jessie. She led him into the office, and he intro¬duced his cousin, Ystervark. Then he shook my hand.

‘This is my colleague, Tannie Maria,’ said Jessie. ‘She does the “Love Advice and Recipe Column”.’

His hand was warm and dry, but I hardly felt it, because it was his eyes that filled me with feeling. They were big and black, like a kudu’s, and they looked right into me. It was very strange … I felt like he could see me. Really see me. Not only my body but all of me. It was as if my eyes were windows without curtains, and he could just look inside. He saw everything. Including the things I kept hidden, even from myself.

I looked away.

‘Coffee?’ I offered, fiddling with the cups.

‘Rooibos tea?’ he asked.

I nodded.

‘Black,’ he said, ‘but with lots of sugar for Yster.’

Ystervark was looking at all the pouches on Jessie’s belt and frowning. Like Slimkat, he was a small man, but while Slimkat was relaxed, Yster’s whole body was tense. His hands were tight fists, and I recognised him from the newspaper photograph. Ready to fight. Ready to kill, maybe. He looked at Slimkat, then at Jessie’s belt and at Slimkat again.

‘Sorry,’ said Slimkat. ‘We don’t mean to be rude. But could you show us what you are carrying on your belt? We’ve had some … incidents, and Ystervark likes to be careful.’

‘Sure,’ said Jessie, and emptied all the things from her pouches onto her desk. They made quite a pile and included her camera, notebook, pen, phone, torch, string, knife and pepper spray.

Ystervark grabbed the spray and the knife and looked at Slimkat as if to say, ‘I told you so.’

‘Sorry,’ Slimkat said again. ‘He’ll give them back when we go. We can’t stay long.’

Jessie set up two chairs for the visitors, but Ystervark stood at the office door. Then he walked towards the street and back again, with the knife and the pepper spray in his hands. He put them in his pockets when I handed him his tea and rusk. I gave the others their hot drinks and beskuit too.

‘Would you like me to go?’ I asked Jessie.

‘No,’ said Slimkat. ‘Stay,’ and he fixed me with those eyes again.

I spilt my coffee on my desk. I rescued the letters, but the coffee got all over last week’s Gazette.
Jessie picked up her notebook. ‘I know you don’t like to sing your own praises,’ she said, ‘but you must be feeling good about the victory over big business. Diamond miners and agribusiness are used to getting their way. Yet you won the fight.’

‘I am sad,’ said Slimkat. ‘It was not right to fight.’

‘What do you mean?’ said Jessie. ‘It belongs to you, that land. Your ancestors have lived there for tens of thousands of years. You could not just let the companies steal it from you.’

‘No,’ said Slimkat. ‘You are wrong. The land does not belong to us. We belong to the land.’

Jessie blinked, and her mouth opened and closed. It was not often that I saw Jessie without words.
She found them again. ‘But surely,’ she said, ‘if you do not fight, then injustice will be done. Again and again.’

‘That is true,’ he said. ‘Some people like to fight.’ He took a sip of his tea and glanced at his cousin, who stood at the door with his back to us. ‘I do not. Fighting can make you bitter. But sometimes it must be done. If you have to fight, then you must do so with soft hands and a heart full of forgiveness.’

He dipped his rusk into his tea and took a bite. Then he smiled and looked at me.

I mopped at the Gazette with a napkin. There was a brown stain over the pink advert offering relationship help.

‘I hear there have been death threats?’ Jessie said.

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Award-winning author Karin Brynard’s bestselling Afrikaans novel Onse Vaders now available in English

Our FathersPenguin Random House is proud to present Our Fathers, the new novel by Karin Brynard:

In one of Stellenbosch’s most affluent areas an apparent house break-in goes awry, leaving a millionaire property developer’s beautiful wife dead. Inspector Albertus Beeslaar is reluctantly drawn into the investigation. Soon this picturesque town begins to reveal its dark underbelly.

Fifteen hundred kilometres to the north, Sergeant Johannes Ghaap is thrust into a drama of his own as he races to save a kidnapped woman and her child.

About the author

Karin Brynard is a journalist who earned her stripes in the burning streets of Soweto during the Freedom Struggle of the 1980s. As a political correspondent for a nationwide newspaper, she witnessed the release of Nelson Mandela and the subsequent political settlement that ended apartheid. Her first two novels, Plaasmoord and Onse vaders, took the South African market by storm, becoming instant bestsellers. She has won numerous literary awards, including the UJ Debut Prize for Creative Writing and two M-Net Awards.

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