31 books every south african should read

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  • 31 books every South African should read

    Looking for deeper insight into South Africa? Here are snap reviews of classic South African reads,covering a wide range of books from non-fiction, to fiction and poetry, featuring a range of thecountry's greatest novelists, poets, journalists and historians.Non-fictionFictionPoetryNon-fictionTheWorld That Made MandelaBy Luli Callinicos

    Bringing history and geography together,this is a large coffee-table-sized book filled with archival and contemporary images, telling the storyof Nelson Mandela and his struggle for South Africa's freedom through the many places associatedwith his life. From his birthplace in Qunu to the Old Fort in Johannesburg, where he was heldprisoner (and which is now the site of the Constitutional Court), from Soweto to Mpumalanga, theimages provide a wonderful historical context for South Africa today, combining to form a unique"heritage trail".Long Walk to FreedomBy Nelson Mandela

  • The towering figure of South Africa'sliberation struggle began his autobiography in prison, his pages in tiny writing smuggled out bycomrades. When he came out of jail in 1990, and went on to become South Africa's first blackpresident in 1994, he continued the work, and it is essential reading for anyone who wants tounderstand Mandela, the times he lived through and the war he waged for freedom. He alsoauthorised a biography by Anthony Sampson (see box right), which provides much useful extrainformation and differing perspectives.Watch the movie trailer here:[embedded content]Tomorrow Is

  • Another CountryBy Allister Sparks Sparks,a veteran South African journalist and author, also wrote The Mind of South Africa. His account ofthe transition from apartheid to democracy is one of several, but undoubtedly the best. It describes,from behind the scenes, the process that began with tentative contact between the sworn enemies,moving through the unbanning of the liberation movements and the complex negotiations that led toSouth Africa's first fully democratic election in 1994.A History of South AfricaBy Frank Welsh

  • This comprehensive one-volume history ofSouth Africa goes beyond the achievement of democracy to look at the problems facing the newsociety in the period since Nelson Mandela ended his term as South Africa's first black president.The book also goes back into South Africa history, and explains the country's ethnic mix though ithas also been criticised for pro-Afrikaner attitudes. Judge for yourself.The Anglo-Boer War 1899-

  • 1902By Fransjohan Pretorius By the end ofthe 19th century, South Africa was partly a British colony and partly a pair of independent Afrikanerrepublics. British imperialism and capitalist expansionism meant that the independence of therepublic (particularly the gold-rich Transvaal) would come under threat. In 1899, the second Anglo-Boer War, which made the earlier conflict seem negligible, broke out. In some ways, it was the firstmodern war, one that saw the invention of trench warfare, concentration camps and guerrillafighting, as the highly organised British army squared up against the motley band of farmer-hunte--soldiers that made up the loose-knit Boer army. It was also a conflict that defined the politicalfuture of a united South Africa. Pretorius gives the best outline of the war, focusing on aspects (suchas the participation of large numbers of black people) that were hitherto ignored.Country of My

  • SkullBy Antjie Krog This is a personal andcompelling account of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which investigated the horrors ofapartheid repression, written by the acclaimed Afrikaans poet. Here she writes in English, from theperspective of a radical Afrikaner, of the searing process of confessing apartheid's sins. A bestsellerin South Africa and successful abroad, the book has been reissued with additional material. My

  • Traitor's HeartBy Rian Malan Subtitled"Blood and Bad Dreams: A South African Explores the Madness in His Country, His Tribe andHimself", this book was a bestseller in South Africa and elsewhere when it came out in 1990. By amember of one of Afrikanerdom's leading apartheid families, it goes into the heart of darkness of acountry in turmoil. It's not a pretty picture, but it makes for compelling, sobering reading.Portraits

  • of PowerBy Mark Gevisser A collection ofGevisser's acclaimed columns for the Mail & Guardian, in which he wrote detailed, elegant andpsychologically acute profiles of all the key players in the new South Africa, from controversialacademic Malegapuru Makgoba to musician-director Mbongeni Ngema, from Chief Rabbi CyrilHarris to filmmaker Anant Singh, from politicians such as Sam (Mbhazima) Shilowa and GeraldineFraser-Moleketi to soccer star Mark Fish.New Babylon / New NinevehBy Charles van Onselen

  • Subtitled "Everyday Life on theWitwatersrand 1886-1914", this essential pair of historical studies are now republished in onevolume. They examine the era of Johannesburg's establishment and early growth through social,political and economic lenses to provide a picture of how this great city developed, and what thatstory has to tell us about South Africa today.Cape Town: The Making of a CityBy Nigel Worden,Elizabeth van Heyningen and Vivian Bickford-Smith

  • Cape Town was South Africa's first city -some still regard it so. It's had extraordinary ethnic diversity from the start. Now one of the world'sfavourite tourist destinations, the city has a complex history, which is told in this beautiful andengrossing book. It looks at Cape Town in colonial times, under Dutch and then British rule, fromthe earliest small settlement founded to grow vegetables for passing ships to the brink of the 20thcentury. A plethora of paintings, maps, drawings and photographs illustrate the book and make itvery accessible. (A companion volume, by the same authors, looking at the city today in the sameformat, is Cape Town in the Twentieth Century: An Illustrated Social History.) MidlandsBy Jonny

  • Steinberg In the spring of 1999, in theKwaZulu-Natal midlands, a young white farmer is shot dead on the dirt road running from hisfathers farmhouse to his irrigation fields. The murder is the work of assassins rather than robbers; asingle shot behind the ear, nothing but his gun stolen, no forensic evidence is left at the scene.Journalist Jonny Steinberg travels to the midlands to investigate. Steinberg finds that much of thestory lies in the immediate future. He has stumbled upon a festering frontier battle. Right from thebeginning, it is clear that the young white man is not the only one who will die on that frontier, andthat the story of his and other deaths will illuminate a great deal about the early days of post-apartheid South Africa.Three-Letter PlagueBy Jonny Steinberg

  • Jonny Steinbergs groundbreaking work ofreportage about pride and shame, sex and death, and the Aids pandemic in Africa is a masterpiece ofsocial observation. In the poor village of Ithanga, in the old Transkei, Steinberg explores the lives ofa community caught up in a battle to survive the ravages of HIV/Aids. He befriends Sizwe Magadla,a young local man who refuses to be tested for HIV despite the existence of a well-run testing andanti-retroviral programme. It is this apparent illogic that becomes the key to understanding thedynamics that thread their way through a complex and traditional rural community.The TrueConfessions of an Albino TerroristBy Breyten Breytenbach

  • Breyten Breytenbach was that mostreviled of men, an Afrikaner who betrayed his people to fight apartheid. For this, he was arrested in1975, tried and sentenced to prison for high treason. This, his memoir of his seven years in jail twoof them in solitary confinement captures the full horror of life in one of the worst penal systems inthe world. It was originally published in 1983. In an afterword to the text, he states that the work"took shape from the obsessive urge I experienced during the first weeks and months of my releaseto talk, talk, talk, to tell my story and all the other stories".FictionDisgraceBy JM Coetzee

  • The crowning achievement of adistinguished literary career, Disgrace won Coetzee the Booker Prize for the second time, makinghim the first writer to achieve that distinction and occasioned much debate within South Africa. It isa bleak but always compelling story of the new South Africa struggling to come to terms with itself,addressing issues of guilt, responsibility, meaning and survival, written in prose of crystallinesharpness. A surprise bestseller in South Africa as well as abroad. Cry, The Beloved CountryBy Alan

  • Paton Perhaps the most famous novel tocome out of South Africa, Paton's 1948 work brought to the notice of the world the dilemmas ofordinary South Africans living under an oppressive system, one which threatened to destroy theirvery humanity. Informed by Paton's Christian and liberal beliefs, the novel tells of a rural Zuluparson's heart-breaking search for his son, who has been drawn into the criminal underworld of thecity. Cry, The Beloved Country has sold millions of copies around the world.See the movie trailerhere:[embedded content]Selected StoriesBy Nadine Gordimer

  • Winner of the 1991 Nobel Prize forLiterature, Gordimer was for decades South Africa's literary conscience. Her stories are perhaps thebest introduction to her work: they span the 1950s to the 1990s in this volume (British edition),moving from the city to the countryside and from the highest ranks of society to the lowest. Withdelicacy and power, they cast a bright light on the extraordinary lives led by South Africans of allraces, and the nature of their interactions across colour lines and within them.The Heart of

  • RednessBy Zakes Mda Mda came toprominenc