July’s People

July's PeopleJuly’s People by Nadine Gordimer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In July’s People, Nadine Gordimer imagines a violent, chaotic end to South Africa’s apartheid system: all-out war between black and white, with other nations getting involved (like Russia, Cuba, the US), mainly to support their own self-interest. Continue reading

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In exile, but ‘Still a Pygmy’

still-a-pygmyI admit I felt a bit uneasy at the idea of reading a book called ‘Still a Pygmy’. Isn’t that a bit, well, politically incorrect?

Apparently not. The pygmy in question, Isaac Bacirongo, beams from the cover of his memoir. Hard to argue with that endorsement.

His collaborating author, white Australian Michael Nest, knows that potential readers may feel the same political squeamishness as I did, so he explains in the introduction that using this word is completely fine. Even if he hadn’t done this, it becomes clear as you read the book that Bacirongo is claiming the name with pride, using it to strip away the cloud of invisibility that surrounds his people, the Indigenous people of the rainforests of Central Africa. Continue reading

Zoo City music

Although last week I issued an Indigenous Reading Challenge, I confess to not having started it yet, because newly purchased titles for Kinna’s African Reading Challenge are beckoning me from my bookshelf. I started South African Lauren Beukes’ urban fantasy Zoo City on the weekend and am hurtling through it. Continue reading

Illicit desires

A beautiful place to die - Malla Nunn

Crime fiction is not my favourite genre. Just ask my friend Gas Wylde, whose novel based on the Wanda Beach murders I have been struggling to finish – just because I’m afraid it will get too grisly. I confess, I never really graduated from Agatha Christie.

I’m not averse to broadening my literary horizons though, which is why last year I joined a book club that some friends had started. I thought it was time I got out of my literary comfort zone (fantasy & non-fiction, and yes, I know those words sound odd together). We have read & discussed some great books, and the latest was – wait for it – crime fiction: African-Aussie Malla Nunn’s A Beautiful Place to Die , set in South Africa in the fifties, not long after apartheid was made law.

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