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01
NOV
2021

Our Ghosts Were Once People: Stories on death and dying by Bongani Kona

“I would get out of the car at every shopping centre and want to ask the stranger walking by with their trolley: ‘Why are you still shopping? Someone I love has died.’”

Death is a fact of life but the experience of grief is as unique to each of us as our fingerprints. This poignant and thought-provoking anthology gives us portraits of grief as seen through the eyes of writers and poets such as Sisonke Msimang, Dawn Garisch, Lidudumalingani, Mary Watson, Ishtiyaq Shukri, Hedley Twidle, Karin Schimke, Khadija Patel, Shubnum Khan and many others.

The contributions range from the deeply personal: a poet chronicles her relationship with her troubled, abusive father, a World War II survivor ‒ to the political: an investigator from the Missing Persons Task Team draws us into the ongoing search for the remains of activists who were murdered by the apartheid state between 1960 and 1994 ‒ to the philosophical: a writer ponders the ethics of killing small animals.

Perhaps grief never truly ends but these stories transform the pain of death into something beautiful so that we can find ways to live with loss.
Jonathan Ball Publishers
01
NOV
2021

Songbirds by Christy Lefteri

'Will break your heart and open your eyes' Heather Morris, author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz

'I've never read anything quite like Songbirds - a beautifully crafted novel that sits at the intersection of race and class.' Jodi Picoult, bestselling author of Small Great Things

She walks unseen through our world.
Cares for our children, cleans our homes.
She has a story to tell.
Will you listen?

Nisha has crossed oceans to give her child a future. By day she cares for Petra's daughter; at night she mothers her own little girl by the light of a phone.

Nisha's lover, Yiannis, is a poacher, hunting the tiny songbirds on their way to Africa each winter. His dreams of a new life, and of marrying Nisha, are shattered when she vanishes.

No one cares about the disappearance of a domestic worker, except Petra and Yiannis. As they set out to search for her, they realise how little they know about Nisha. What they uncover will change them all.
29
OCT
2021

A Poor Season for Whales Book by Michiel Heyns

Margaret Crowley, handsome, clever and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly fifty-six years in the world with very little to distress or vex her. It was therefore hardly to be foreseen that in her fifty-sixth year she would kill a man with a kitchen knife.

When, after twenty-six years of marriage, Margaret Crowley’s husband leaves her for a younger man, she has to rethink her priorities and consider her options: as a free agent, with no ‘appurtenances’, how best to turn that freedom into a meaningful future rather than a mulling over the past? Opting to leave behind her support system of family and friends, she moves to a seaside town with her dog, Benjy, intent upon a simple, uncluttered existence. But simplicity, it seems, can be a complicated affair. When the charismatic young Jimmy Prinsloo-Mazibuko enters her life and her home, apparently intent upon establishing himself as a general-purpose handyman and cook, she finds herself torn between distrust and attraction. Is he merely the helpful, cheerful young man he seems, or is there a darker purpose to his assistance?

As in his award-winning Lost Ground, Heyns situates his novel in contemporary South Africa, with a lively cast of characters: Margaret’s forthright best friend, Frieda, her loose-limbed son, Carl, her exasperated daughter, Celia, and, most insistently of all, her opinionated ‘domestic’, Rebecca. Friends and family, it seems, are not to be left behind at will. And new acquaintances may not be what they seem.
29
OCT
2021

Girl A by Abigail Dean

THE BOOK THAT WILL DEFINE A DECADE

RIGHTS SOLD IN 27 TERRITORIES

SOON TO BE A TV SHOW DIRECTED BY JOHAN RENCK (Chernobyl)

‘An astonishing achievement.’ JESSIE BURTON
‘Gripping, beautifully written perfection.’ SOPHIE HANNAH
‘A masterpiece.’ LOUISE O’NEILL
‘Fantastic.’ PAULA HAWKINS

‘Girl A,’ she said. ‘The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.’

Lex Gracie doesn’t want to think about her family. She doesn’t want to think about growing up in her parents’ House of Horrors. And she doesn’t want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped. When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can’t run from her past any longer. Together with her sister, Evie, Lex intends to turn the House of Horrors into a force for good. But first she must come to terms with her six siblings – and with the childhood they shared.

Beautifully written and incredibly powerful, Girl A is a story of redemption, of horror, and of love.
29
OCT
2021

Why We Kneel How We Rise by Michael Holding

Through the prism of sport and conversations with its legends, including Usain Bolt, Adam Goodes, Thierry Henry, Michael Johnson, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Makhaya Ntini, Naomi Osaka and Hope Powell, Michael Holding explains how racism dehumanises people; how it works to achieve that end; how it has been ignored by history and historians; and what it is like to be treated differently just because of the colour of your skin.

Rarely can a rain delay in a cricket match have led to anything like the moment when Holding spoke out in the wake of the #BlackLivesMatter protests about the racism he has suffered and has seen all around him throughout his life. But as he spoke, he sought not only to educate but to propose a way forward that inspired so many. Within minutes, he was receiving calls from famous sports stars from around the world offering to help him to spread the message further.

Now, in Why We Kneel, How We Rise, Holding shares his story together with those of some of the most iconic athletes in the world. He delivers a powerful and inspiring message of hope for the future and a vision for change, while providing the background and history to an issue that has dogged the world for many centuries. He adds: 'To say I was surprised at the volume of positive feedback I received from around the world after my comments on Sky Sports is an understatement. I came to realise I couldn’t just stop there; I had to take it forward – hence the book, as I believe education is the way forward.'
29
OCT
2021

Give Us More Guns: How South Africa’s Gangs were Armed by Mark Shaw

Investigative journalist Mandy Weiner is in conversation with the author of Give Us More Guns, Mark Shaw.

It was one of the most brutal criminal acts of the post-apartheid era, and its consequences devastating. Thousands of people, including women and children, died between 2011 and 2019 as a result of one senior police officer’s crime: his decision to sell millions of rands’ worth of guns to fund his children’s university fees. Colonel Christiaan Prinsloo, the former head of the Gauteng firearm license division, and a network of his cronies sold thousands of guns that had been decommissioned by the SAPS to South Africa’s gang lords. The sale of those lethal weapons, which the police service tried to cover up, led to a killing spree of unprecedented proportions.

Cape Town – which became the destination for most of these guns – is now one of the most violent places on earth. The firearms were used by organised-crime groups to unleash an orgy of violence so intense that in mid-2019 the South African military were called in to patrol the city’s gang-infested areas.

Based on hundreds of interviews with police and the criminal underworld, Give Us More Guns tells the story of this callous crime for the first time. In this book, author Mark Shaw explores how the illegally sold guns got into the hands of South Africa’s crime bosses. The book describes the bloodbath that ensued and uncovers accounts of rampant corruption within the police and in the gun-licensing system, probing the government failure that has been instrumental in arming the country’s gangsters.
29
OCT
2021

When Secrets Become Stories edited by Sue Nyathi

She was asking for it.

She should have known better.

Bekezela (persevere), she was told.

It’s because I love you, he said.

It’s not that bad, she told herself.

In sharing their experiences from girlhood to the boardroom, from Cape Town’s suburbs to the hills of KwaZulu-Natal, women from different walks of life show how chillingly common male violence against women is. Together, their voices form a deafening chorus.

Gender-based violence feeds on shame and silence but in this extraordinary collection, brave women reclaim their power and summon the courage in others to do the same. In speaking out, sharing what was once secret, shame’s hold is broken.

With contributions by Lorraine Sithole, Desiree-Anne Martin, UCT vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng, Shafinaaz Hassim, Cathy Park Kelly and Olivia Jasriel, who as a child was sexually abused by tennis star Bob Hewitt.

Heart-rending at times, it is the honesty and courage of the writing that truly inspires.
29
OCT
2021

Tough Love: How A Limpopo Homeboy Became A World Champ Turned Lawyer by Lovemore Ndou

Well-known Sowetan boxing writer Bongani Magasela is in conversation with Lovemore Ndou regarding his book Tough Love.

Growing up in extreme poverty in Messina (today Musina) in the early 1980s, Lovemore Ndou was forced to start fighting to protect himself, his parent and his siblings. At an early age he experienced the injustices of the apartheid system when his arm was broken during a beating in a police cell and he saw his best friend gunned down in a protest march.

After receiving his first boxing training at the gym of a local copper mine, he set off for Johannesburg to further his career. There he was exposed to some of the hard truths of the boxing world, like unscrupulous promoters who made empty promises.

Through sheer determination, he managed to stay afloat and soon the Black Panther (his name in the ring) started winning fights. When he was offered an opportunity to go boxing in Australia, he left the country in the mid-1990s and began to make a name for himself internationally. Once again, he faced many setbacks and challenges but eventually became a triple-world champion.

A number of big names in local and international boxing circles feature in the book. Lovemore describes his awe at meeting Dingaan Thobela and Brian Mitchell, how he trained at Gerrie Coetzee’s boxing centre on the East Rand and how, in later years, he was the main sparring partner for Floyd Mayweather during a stint in the USA.

Never knocked out in 64 professional bouts, Ndou transitioned from combat in the ring to confrontation in the courtroom in a successful post-boxing career as a lawyer. Today he has his own practice in Sydney, Australia.
29
OCT
2021

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett.

The Cheeky Natives are in conversation with author Brit Bennett, author of The Vanishing Half.

‘The Vanishing Half is an utterly mesmerising novel. It seduces with its literary flair, surprises with its breath-taking plot twists, delights with its psychological insights, and challenges us to consider the corrupting consequences of racism on different communities and individual lives. I absolutely loved this book’ Bernardine Evaristo, winner of the Booker Prize 2019

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

9 episodes