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Amabookabooka: Michiel Heyns

One Whale of a Good Yarn
The subject of today’s episode of Amabookabooka is ‘A Poor Season For
Whales’, which is not the title of a sport’s book about the Welsh
rugby team’s miserable 1991 year when they were walloped 63-3 by the
Wallabies. ‘A Poor Season For Whales’ (with an H) is author,
translator and English professor Michiel Heyns’ outstanding new novel.
The book has everything: vivid imagery, beautiful descriptions,
fascinating characters, gripping dialogue, understated humour, an
intriguing plot, a sharp knife hanging over it and a dassie-chasing
Doberman named Benjy. (Michiel reveals why every one of his novels
features a dog…)

Amabookabooka: Bruce Whitfield

Bruce Almighty
Some would say that it is dreadful timing to launch a book at the same
time that Covid-19 has decided to go hitchhiking around the globe, but
for one book - The Upside of Down - the timing is spot on. The world
is upside down and the Upside of Down highlights opportunities during
chaos. The Upside of Down is written by the king of the business
airwaves Bruce Whitfield, who has the incredibly rare gift of making
complex financial issues easy to understand. Through absorbing
anecdotes, cautionary tales, some multiple choice quizzes or six,
Bruce tells us that South Africa has extraordinary problems - but with
extraordinary problems come extraordinary opportunities. Spoiler
alert: In the episode, Bruce reveals the four words that Nando’s
chief Robbie Brozen told him that perfectly sums up the state of the
world at the moment.

Amabookabooka: Heinrich Böhmke

A Lockdown mystery
Heinrich Böhmke loves trees, bees, wind over the veld and Nguni cattle
- and even though he loves cattle he’s not scared to stomp all over
sacred cows. Heinrich’s debut novel Sarie tells the story of four
lives in crisis - on the same day. In the same hotel. It mixes South
African politics and history, with a thrilling plot and, as one
reviewer put it: There is no chill with this book! Heinrich’s latest
book, The Helpless Lady, is a world away from Sarie. It’s a children’s
book set in the Lockdown. Day 17 starts off just like any other boring
Lockdown day but turns into a day of mystery and adventure when
9-year-old Erika sees a desperate message for help in her neighbour's
window. Erika’s grumpy dad is busy so she takes matters into her own
hands to rescue her elderly neighbour - all while keeping her social
distance. It’s a fast, heart-warming story told with humour and there
are a few twists at the end to keep you on your toes.

Amabookabooka Dave Muller

Seven weeks in captivity
Thirty years ago today the Muller family's dream holiday turned into a
nightmare when they were taken hostage by a band of child soldiers in
Mozambique. On Friday the 13th of April 1990 Dave Muller and his
family set sail to Mozambique to fulfill Dave's boyhood dream of
voyaging to the tropics. On board his yacht Arwen, which he had spent
the previous 10 years building, was his wife, Sandy, and their two
children 8-year-old Tammy, and Seth, who was about to turn 5. But
Friday the 13th turned out to be a bad omen. Fifteen days later,
Dave’s voyage came to a shuddering halt when his yacht was
shipwrecked and they were taken prison by armed children from the
Mozambican rebel group Renamo. It took Dave 29 years to write his
memoir, This is not Child’s Play, which was published last year and
documents the Muller family’s nightmare. Today - 28 April 2020 -
marks the 30th anniversary of the day the family was taken captive.
This is not Child’s Play is a story of hope and, eventually, freedom!
After 33 days of lockdown, we could all use a bit of hope ... and some
Stage 4 freedom.

Amabookabooka: Marcus Low

Low Down on Health Horror
Today’s episode of Amabookabooka is a throwback to 2017 when novelist,
journalist and public health activist Marcus Low coughed up the
incredible and, as it turns out, very credible dystopian health-horror
novel Asylum. A high-security quarantine facility has been set up in
the Karoo for people with a highly infectious lung disease known as
“pulmonary nodulosis” - there is no cure. The inmates have been
separated from the rest of the country - where they do nothing much
but wait to die.
Asylum is like an uncooked onion: raw with layers upon layers and will
make you cry. It is a thought-provoking and superbly written book that
will do to you what a fictional South African government did to the
novel’s protagonist Barry James – hold you captive.

Amabookabooka: The quarantine chronicles - Matthew Buckland

Celebrating the Joy of Matt

Today is a very special edition of Amabookabooka. We pay tribute to
and celebrate the life of Matthew Buckland - a tech wonder kid, a
digital fundi, an entrepreneur, an innovator, a journalist, a
publisher, an author, a mountain biker and a compulsive dreamer who
had big dreams. Matt always had a sparkle in his eye and a
million-buck grin.

In the middle of 2018 Matt was diagnosed with an aggressive form of
cancer. On the day of his first chemo session in October he started to
write a book about his entrepreneurial journey. Two months later he
sent the manuscript to his publisher. Matt died on 23 April last year
shortly before his book So You Want to Build a Startup was published.
He was just 44. We chat to Matt’s dad, Andrew Buckland, and good
friend Vince Maher about Matt's extraordinary life.

Amabookabooka: The quarantine chronicles - Lauren Beukes

Lauren Beuekes imagines a brand new world
Lauren Beukes crisscrosses literary genres to write ground-breaking
weird-and-wonderful dystopian thrillers. Her novels - Moxyland, Zoo
City, The Shining Girls, Broken Monsters - are beautifully written,
with complex characters and intriguing pulse-racing plots and plots
within plots that are skillfully knitted together. Lauren also writes
comics and screen plays, directed the documentary Glitterboys &
Ganglands, and wrote the New York Times bestselling graphic novel
Fairest: The Hidden Kingdom. Academics study her work, fans name their
pets and children after her characters and she has won prestigious
literary honours. She has received endorsements from Stephen King,
shout outs from George RR Martin and big-ups from Neil Gaiman. Lauren
is the Trevor Noah of the literary
horror-sci-fi-spec-fic-cyberpunk-fantasy- psych-thriller-dystopian
world. And now Afterland, her spanking new novel about a global
pandemic has come out slap-bang in the middle of a global pandemic.  

Amabookabooka: The quarantine chronicles - Gail Schimmel

Gail Schimmel writes best-selling novels that have more twists and
turns than Kyalami: Marriage Vows, Whatever Happened to the Cowley
Twins?, The Park; and The Accident. Her most recent novel, the two
week-old Two Months is a psychological thriller. Primary school
teacher Erica and her husband Kenneth have a great life: Erica loves
her job, loves her husband but one morning she wakes up and has
forgotten the last two months of her life. She begins to piece
together what has happened with terrible consequences. You will
probably laugh and maybe even cry as the story unfolds but you will
certainly gasp when it ends…

Amabookabooka: The quarantine chronicles - Chris Whitfield

Today’s Amabookabooka guest has written two very different books - On
Your Bike, which is a guide to mountain biking in South Africa. The
second is Paper Tiger: Iqbal Survé and the downfall of Independent
Newspapers, which is a riveting account of what happened to the Cape
Times when it was taken over by the controversial businessman. Chris
Whitfield, who wrote On Your Bike with his brother Tim, is an
accomplished mountain biker with four Cape Epic Finisher’s T-shirts
hanging in his cupboard. He wrote Paper Tiger with Alide Dasnois, the
erstwhile editor of the Cape Times who was fired by Survé the morning
after Nelson Mandela died. Chris, who was the most senior editorial
person in Independent when it was taken over by Survé, had a front-row
seat to the unfolding drama.

Amabookabooka: The quarantine chronicles - Paul Morris

Confronting the ghosts of war
Paul Morris went to Angola in 1987. He was a young soldier who had
been conscripted into the South African Defence Force as it waged a
brutal bush war against its neighbours. For 25 years Angola was the
country of Paul’s nightmares. He returned to the country in 2012 -
this time he wasn’t a 20-year-old soldier in an army’s armoured
buffel; he was a middle-aged man on a bicycle. He cycled 1500km across
the country to witness Angola in peacetime; to enjoy the beauty of the
bush and to meet the people who live there. One of the people he met
was Roberto, a Cuban, who had been fighting in Angola against the
apartheid army - the meeting with Roberto was the most profound moment
of Paul’s life. In Back to Angola, Paul's memoir published in 2014, he
writes about a journey that took him back into the past as well as
into the present.

Amabookabooka: The quarantine chronicles - Chris Hani

Today marks the 27th anniversary of the assassination of Chris Hani.
For many the revered revolutionary was the president we never had. But
12-year-old Lindiwe Hani hadn’t lost the head of the SA Communist
Party - it was her daddy who had been cruelly taken away from her.
Tragedy after tragedy followed, sending Lindiwe into a fog of cocaine
and booze until she smashed into rock bottom. In 2014, she became
sober. In 2017 she penned her remarkable memoir Being Chris Hani’s
Daughter, revealing details of her descent into addiction and the hard
road to recovery and redemption. People often wonder what South
Africa would be like if Chris Hani hadn’t been killed. It’s an
impossible question and while we can speculate, we don’t know. What we
do know, though, is Chris Hani would have been extremely proud of his
courageous daughter.

Amabookabooka: The quarantine chronicles - Caryn Dolley

Don’t let Caryn Dolley fool you - the woman with the goofiest grin and
the wackiest sense of humour in South African journalism has struck
fear into the heart of some the toughest gangsters who roam the
underworld. Caryn is the author of the hard-hitting book The
Enforcers: Inside Cape Town's Deadly Nightclub Battles. The Enforcers
exposes the war playing out in the grubby underbelly of the Mother
City to dominate the security trade. The book is so good because Caryn
did something that is becoming increasingly rare - she did proper
boots-on-the-ground journalism …

45 episodes

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