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Jonathan Ball

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Launch: The Fifth Mrs Brink (16 August)

Karina M. Szczurek’s soul-baring memoirs of her life before, with and after her marriage to André P. Brink details a year of widowhood and a love to last a lifetime. This is the book which shows decisively that Karina is a writer in her own right, still coming in to her full creative powers, and simultaneously silences any gossips who might still have disbelieved Karina and André Brink’s love for one another.

A homage to a marriage cut tragically short by Brink’s death, in 2015 at 79 years old, and a diary of creative dissolution and knitting back together, The Fifth Mrs Brink combines enough literary skinner, salacious detail and moving romantic description of dealing with the death of a loved one to satisfy fans of her and her husband, both old and new.

Event Details

Launch: Fate of the Nation by Jakkie Cilliers (15 August)

What does our future hold? Will the ANC split within the next five years? Could the DA rule the country in 2024? Will the EFF form an alliance with the ANC? What should we do to make our economy grow at levels that will impact on poverty and inequality? Will we become a more tolerant or a more violent society?

In Fate of the Nation scenario expert Jakkie Cilliers answers all these and many other questions. He has developed three detailed scenarios for our immediate future and beyond – Bafana Bafana, Nation Divided and Mandela Magic.

According to Cilliers the ANC is in many ways paralysed by the power struggle between what he calls the Traditionalists (supporters of Jacob Zuma) and the Reformers (led by Cyril Ramaphosa and others). This power struggle leads to policy confusion, poor leadership and general ineptitude in the civil service.

Key to which scenario will become our reality is who will be elected to the ANC’s top leadership at their national conference in December 2017. Whichever group wins will determine what our future holds. We could also see a compromise grouping being selected, Cilliers says, in which case the Bafana Bafana scenario – where we simply muddle along as a country – is the strongest possibility.

A book for all concerned South Africans.

Jakkie Cilliers is a well-known political and Africa analyst and commentator. He was the executive director of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) for many years and currently serves as chairman of the board of trustees. Cilliers has written and published several dozen books, monographs and papers. He is an Extraordinary Professor at the Centre of Human Rights and the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria. His current interests relate to issues around South Africa and Africa’s long-term future.

Event Details

  • Date: Tuesday, 15 August 2017
  • Time: 6:00 PM for 6:30 PM
  • Venue: Love Books, The Bamboo Lifestyle Centre, 53 Rustenburg Road, Melville, Johannesburg | Map
  • Guest Speaker: Ralph Mathekga
  • RSVP: kate@lovebooks.co.za, 011 726 7408

     

    Book Details

What does South Africa’s future hold? Will the ANC split? Could the DA rule the country in 2024? Will we become a more tolerant or a more violent society? Fate of the Nation tackles these questions…

Fate of the Nation
What does our future hold? Will the ANC split within the next five years? Could the DA rule the country in 2024? Will the EFF form an alliance with the ANC? What should we do to make our economy grow at levels that will impact on poverty and inequality? Will we become a more tolerant or a more violent society?

In Fate of the Nation scenario expert Jakkie Cilliers answers all these and many other questions. He has developed three detailed scenarios for our immediate future and beyond – Bafana Bafana, Nation Divided and Mandela Magic.

According to Cilliers the ANC is in many ways paralysed by the power struggle between what he calls the Traditionalists (supporters of Jacob Zuma) and the Reformers (led by Cyril Ramaphosa and others). This power struggle leads to policy confusion, poor leadership and general ineptitude in the civil service.

Key to which scenario will become our reality is who will be elected to the ANC’s top leadership at their national conference in December 2017. Whichever group wins will determine what our future holds. We could also see a compromise grouping being selected, Cilliers says, in which case the Bafana Bafana scenario – where we simply muddle along as a country – is the strongest possibility.

A book for all concerned South Africans.

Jakkie Cilliers is a well-known political and Africa analyst and commentator. He was the executive director of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) for many years and currently serves as chairman of the board of trustees. Cilliers has written and published several dozen books, monographs and papers. He is an Extraordinary Professor at the Centre of Human Rights and the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria. His current interests relate to issues around South Africa and Africa’s long-term future.

Book details

Charles van Onselen challenges the historiography of the Jameson Raid in The Cowboy Capitalist

“Charles van Onselen’s richly informative and gripping Cowboy Capitalist offers intrigue, betrayal and suspense worthy of a spy thriller in a deeply documented account of international entrepreneurial capitalism, labor exploitation, and political conspiracy in the age of imperialism.”
- Robert E. May, Professor Emeritus of History, Purdue

The Cowboy Capitalist

The Jameson Raid was a pivotal moment in the history of South Africa, linking events from the Anglo-Boer War to the declaration of the Union of South Africa in 1910. For over a century the failed revolution has been interpreted through the lens of British imperialism, with responsibility laid at the feet of Cecil John Rhodes. Yet the wild adventurism that characterised the raid resembles a cowboy expedition more than a serious attempt to overthrow a Boer government.

In The Cowboy Capitalist, Charles van Onselen challenges a historiography of over 120 years, locating the raid in American rather than British history and forcing us to rethink the histories of at least three nations. Through a close look at the little-remembered figure of John Hays Hammond, a confidant of both Rhodes and Jameson, he discovers the American Old West on the South African Highveld.

This radical reinterpretation challenges the commonly held belief that the Jameson Raid was quintessentially British and, in doing so, drives splinters into our understanding of events as far forward as South Africa’s critical 1948 general election, with which the foundations of Grand Apartheid were laid.

Charles van Onselen is the acclaimed author of several books including The Fox and the Flies, Masked Raiders, and The Seed is Mine, which won the Alan Paton in 1997 and was voted as one of the best books to emerge from Africa in the 20th century. His latest book, Showdown at the Red Lion, has been opted for a TV series. Van Onselen has been honoured with visiting fellowships at Yale, Cambridge, and Oxford, and was the inaugural Oppenheimer Fellow at Harvard’s WEB Du Bois Institute. He is currently Research Professor in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria.

Book details

 
Also available as an eBook.

Michel Bussi’s latest thriller clever and nuanced, writes Margaret von Klemperer

Published in the Witness

MICHEL Bussi is a celebrated French thriller writer, and, incidentally, a professor of Geography. Maybe that is why he has set his latest novel on the geographically and geologically interesting island of Reunion. The setting plays an important part in the story, and adds an extra layer to the tale.

Reunion is interesting in other ways too: the inhabitants are an extraordinary and complex racial mix, and beneath the popular conception of the place as a tourist paradise, ethnic and social tensions are rife and also bring their own dimension to the plot.

On the surface, Martial and Liane Bellion and their six year old daughter Sopha are the norm of wealthy tourists, lazing on the beach or round the pool and making friends with other holiday couples. But then Liane vanishes, and when Martial reports her missing, blood is found in their room.

Witnesses appear to say that Martial was seen going up to their room when he said he was with Sopha on the beach, and that he “borrowed” a laundry trolley at the same time. And then he suddenly goes on the run, with the child. Why would he do that, having initially co-operated? And is he what he seems on the surface…simply a tourist, out for a good time in a new, exotic location?

We see the story from various perspectives: the police, convinced they are after a wife killer; the child, frightened of and loving her father by turns; locals who see themselves as amateur detectives; Martial himself…and others.

There is plenty for the reader to consider and red herrings abound as we slowly come to unravel the complexities of what the police initially view as a straightforward tale of domestic violence. Unlike so many thrillers which rely on shock, gore and schlock, Don’t Let Go is clever and nuanced. Of course, there is action and violence, some shocking, but there is more than that. The whole mixture adds up to create an excellent thriller. Margaret von Klemperer

Book details

“Why did prominent members of the royal house conspire to kill Shaka?” – One of the many questions Laband tackles in his riveting new book

In this riveting new book, John Laband, pre-eminent historian of the Zulu Kingdom, tackles some of the questions that swirl around the assassination in 1828 of King Shaka, the celebrated founder of the Zulu Kingdom and war leader of legendary brilliance: Why did prominent members of the royal house conspire to kill him?

Just how significant a part did the white hunter-traders settled at Port Natal play in their royal patron’s downfall?

Why were Shaka’s relations with the British Cape Colony key to his survival? And why did the powerful army he had created acquiesce so tamely in the usurpation of the throne by Dingane, his half-brother and assassin?

In his search for answers Laband turns to the Zulu voice heard through recorded oral testimony and praise-poems, and to the written accounts and reminiscences of the Port Natal trader-hunters and the despatches of Cape officials. In the course of probing and assessing this evidence the author vividly brings the early Zulu kingdom and its inhabitants to life.

He throws light on this elusive character of and his own unpredictable intentions, while illuminating the fears and ambitions of those attempting to prosper and survive in his hazardous kingdom: a kingdom that nevertheless endured in all its essential characteristics, particularly militarily, until its destruction fifty one years later in 1879 by the British; and whose fate, legend has it, Shaka predicted with his dying breath.

John Laband is the author of several highly regarded books on the Zulu Kingdom, including the seminal Rope of Sand: The Rise and Fall of the Zulu Kingdom in the Nineteenth Century. Laband is Professor Emeritus at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada; a Life Member of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge; a Fellow of the University of KwaZulu-Natal and a Research Associate in the Department of History at Stellenbosch University. He lives in Cape Town.

Book details

Also available as an eBook.

“I still can’t have rusks in the morning” – read an excerpt from The Fifth Mrs Brink

Karina M. Szczurek’s soul-baring memoirs of her life before, with and after her marriage to André P. Brink details a year of widowhood and a love to last a lifetime. This is the book which shows decisively that Karina is a writer in her own right, still coming in to her full creative powers, and simultaneously silences any gossips who might still have disbelieved Karina and André Brink’s love for one another.

A homage to a marriage cut tragically short by Brink’s death, in 2015 at 79 years old, and a diary of creative dissolution and knitting back together, The Fifth Mrs Brink combines enough literary skinner, salacious detail and moving romantic description of dealing with the death of a loved one to satisfy fans of her and her husband, both old and new.

Read an excerpt here:

Zuul, please come back!

I don’t know how long I have been standing between two aisles in Woolies without moving, but people are beginning to stare. I snap out of it, turn to one of the shelves and pretend to be looking at individual food items, but I have no clue what I am doing.

It is the first time I am shopping on my own again, and answering the question What do I eat? is suddenly trickier than I would have ever anticipated. The thing is that I haven’t been eating much at all since André’s death. For ten years, we have been shopping together. And even if I went on my own, I knew what we liked and ate, and bought groceries accordingly.

We had our routines and favourites – rusks with tea and coffee in the morning; cinnamon, sugar and freshly pressed lemon juice pancakes with Olga on Tuesdays; champagne breakfasts in the bath for special occasions; fried tomato, bacon and egg brunches; tuna, onion and tomato sandwiches at The Alma Cafe; tea and chocolate in the afternoons; feasts with friends at Casa Brink on weekends – and now I had to decide whether I would continue with them on my own, or discover something new for myself.

For the first few weeks, the house was full of people arriving with food. On the rare occasions I did open the fridge during this time, I never recognised its contents. It overflowed with the generosity of friends. Others organised meals, accompanied me to the shops, took care of the cleaning up. There were a few days after most other family members departed when Krystian and I were alone in the house with Mom before she herself had to catch a flight home.

There was something extremely soothing in being called to dinner by our mother and sitting at the kitchen table with my brother, waiting for her to dish up our childhood favourites for us. It made me feel safe in a reality that had sharp edges wherever I turned.

André was a fantastic cook. Most of what I know about cooking I have learned from him. His bredies, saddle of lamb, scones, crème brûlée, fishcakes, pancakes and bobotie were legendary. Despite his peculiar ability to burn everything, especially pumpkin (notoriously so), whenever André entered the kitchen, one could expect a feast to come out. The kitchen was never recognisable after his cooking sessions, but I was happy to clean up when he prepared our meals.

The first morning I visited André in Cape Town, when I arrived at his home after a gruelling flight, André made me burned toast – and I mean charred black – and served it with butter. He had asked me beforehand what I would want, and, remembering the taste of mango in the mornings from my previous visit to South Africa, I asked for the fruit, unaware that it was not in season. André told me that he drove around the whole of Cape Town in search of a mango for me the day before my arrival, but couldn’t find a ripe one. I didn’t mind missing out, but was moved by the fact that he tried.

Food was one of the simple things in life that we enjoyed together. Lamb was a great discovery. Not popular in Austria or Poland, it was never part of my culinary vocabulary. Now all the other meats have nearly disappeared from it. André introduced me to the two best braai chefs in the country, his friends Gerrit and Kobus. Oh, André loved his braais. Nothing fancy: just chops and wors with a nice salad and a glass of red wine (cleaning up after a meal, I could recognise which glass had been André’s, as it was always the one which was most clouded by greasy fingerprints). In my experience, apart from one exception when we went to Wedgewood on our own and he braaied our chops to perfection that evening, André wasn’t a particularly good braaier. There are friends who swear he could braai fresh snoek like no other, but I never had the opportunity to taste it. I somehow got the burned end of the stick when André was involved in a braai. But I loved watching him in the kitchen, teaching myself to cook many South African dishes that way. Some I refused to learn, like bobotie. And I haven’t had it since André’s death. The taste of bobotie is hiding in the same secret place as paternal Grandma Ala’s tomato soup. When she passed away, she took the recipe for my all-time favourite soup with her to her grave. She made it whenever I came to visit, or left some for me if she knew I was coming. There was no secret. She told me how she prepared it. Use a lot of carrots for the broth, she would say, and a little bit of sugar or honey at the end to make it sweet. I tried many times to replicate it, but it wasn’t the ingredients or their proportions that made it special. It only tasted that way when she made it. With some recipes it is a matter of the hand that executes them.

Fortunately, the last two times André was making crème brûlée he asked me to assist, so that I could make it myself, and somehow passed on the magic. It gives me great pleasure to be able to serve it to family and friends who have come to love it over the years. André’s crème brûlée was so good that after tasting it once, I refused to have it anywhere else, because I knew any other attempt would only disappoint me. Whenever he made a batch, and it was only for special occasions, he kept one ramekin aside for me, so that I could have it the next day with my coffee first thing in the morning. One tradition I insist on to this day, even if I make the dessert and keep one portion for myself.

André introduced me to foie gras poêlé when we met in Paris. And waterblommetjiebredie here in South Africa. Artichokes and snoek pâté. Granadillas and pumpkin fritters. Gazpacho – he prepared the best and taught me how. He loved it when I made barszcz, and my mom’s fried potatoes, and my fried banana dessert with whipped cream. We treated ourselves to special dishes all the time, and loved exploring and experimenting. Restaurant outings – whether it was The Alma Cafe or Fraîche Ayres in our neighbourhood, or the Planet Restaurant at the Mount Nelson, or Buitenverwachting in Constantia, or The Stagg Inn in the UK – were something to be celebrated. There was a time when we even considered compiling a cookbook, but it will remain one of those dream projects which live on only in the ‘loss library’ of my head.

My eating habits have changed greatly now that I am alone. Krystian was the last of my guests to depart mid-March, six weeks after André’s death. The house felt awfully empty, but my fridge was still cluttered with more or less unidentifiable food objects. When I opened it, I was reminded of that classic Ghostbusters scene when Dana, portrayed by the magnificent Sigourney Weaver, opens her fridge to find the monster Zuul lurking in its depths. I took everything out, and even though I hate throwing away food, I did feed most of what I found to the dustbin. I washed out Zuul’s lair with vinegar water and put back the fresh milk and pink wine. And then I wept. Apart from special occasions, my fridge has been empty for two years now.

Shopping and eating on my own, I discovered that there were few dishes which gave me real pleasure. Whenever my stomach refuses to cooperate, three things will always go in: meat, chocolate and veggie juices. For quite a while I had rare steaks for breakfast and dinner, chocolate and beetroot or tomato juice in between. They helped me survive and keep strong. Gradually, my appetite returned and, not surprisingly, it became easier to eat in company than alone. My tastes have changed. I haven’t bought sugar or flour for a long time. Cooking for friends makes
me happy. Occasionally, I try to prepare elaborate dishes for myself, but there is little fun in it. I still can’t bake to save my life. For Easter and Christmas, I baked the only thing that I can: Grandma Ala’s rogaliki, crescent rolls filled with rose petal jam. The smell from the oven and their crumbling texture on my tongue made me feel as if I were in her kitchen again. I wish I could make her tomato soup – its mysterious sweet taste remains one of my most delicious childhood memories.

I still can’t have rusks in the morning.

The Fifth Mrs Brink

Book details

Also available as an eBook.

Launch: The Fifth Mrs Brink (2 August)

Karina M. Szczurek’s soul-baring memoirs of her life before, with and after her marriage to André P. Brink details a year of widowhood and a love to last a lifetime. This is the book which shows decisively that Karina is a writer in her own right, still coming in to her full creative powers, and simultaneously silences any gossips who might still have disbelieved Karina and André Brink’s love for one another.

A homage to a marriage cut tragically short by Brink’s death, in 2015 at 79 years old, and a diary of creative dissolution and knitting back together, The Fifth Mrs Brink combines enough literary skinner, salacious detail and moving romantic description of dealing with the death of a loved one to satisfy fans of her and her husband, both old and new.

Event Details

Seven non-fiction eBook releases to look forward to this winter

A Short History of South Africa A Short History of South Africa
Gail Nattrass

In A Short History of South Africa, Gail Nattrass, historian and educator, presents the reader with a brief, general account of South Africa’s history, from the very beginning to the present day, from the first evidence of hominid existence, early settlement pre- and post-European arrival and the warfare through the 18th and 19th centuries that lead to the eventual establishment of modern South Africa.

This readable and thorough account, illustrated with maps and photographs, is a culmination of a lifetime of researching and teaching the broad spectrum of South African history, collecting
stories, taking students on tours around the country, and working with distinguished historians.

Nattrass’s passion for her subject shines through, whether she is elucidating the reader on early humans in the cradle of humankind, or the tumultuous twentieth-century processes that shaped the democracy that is South Africa today.

A must for all those interested in South Africa, within the country and abroad.

Gail Nattrass lectured in the history department at the School of Education, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, for 20 years. She is the author of The Rooiberg Story (1983), the co-editor with S. B. Spies of Jan Smuts: Memoirs of the Boer War (1994) and a contributor to They Shaped Our Century (1999) and Leaders of the Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902 (2001).

Cuito Canavale Cuito Cuanavale: 12 Months of War that Transformed a Continent
Fred Bridgland

“As we advanced the tanks began firing ahead speculatively. It was an amazing sight. After an Olifant [tank] unleashed a 105 mm shell you saw a path opening up through the forest just like the Red Sea divided for Moses.”

It is September 1987. The Angolan Army – with the support of Cuban troops and Soviet advisors – has built up a massive force on the Lomba River near Cuito Cuanavale in southern Angola. Their goal? To capture Jamba, the headquarters of the rebel group Unita, supported by the South African Defence Force (SADF) in the so-called Border War.

In the battles that followed, and shortly thereafter centred around the small town of Cuito Cuanavale, 3 000 SADF soldiers and 8 000 Unita fighters were up against a much bigger Angolan and Cuban force of over 50 000 men.

Thousands of soldiers died in the vicious fighting that is described in vivid detail in this book. Bridgland pieced together this account through scores of interviews with SADF men who were on the front line. This dramatic retelling takes the reader to the heart of the action.

The final battles of the war in 1987 and 1988 had an impact far beyond the borders of Namibia and Angola. They not only spelled the end of the last great neo-colonial attempts at African conquest by Cuba and the former Soviet Union, but also made possible the dismantling of apartheid in South Africa.

Fred Bridgland is a veteran British foreign correspondent and author who covered the Angolan civil war and the Border War for Reuters as an Africa correspondent in the 1970s and then for the Sunday Telegraph and The Scotsman in the 1980s. In 1975 his discovery of South Africa’s secret US-engineered invasion of Angola uncovered the CIA’s involvement in the Angolan civil war, and was a world scoop. Bridgland has written a number of books and has just completed a biography of Winnie Mandela.

Fate of the Nation
Jakkie Cilliers

What does our future hold? Will the ANC split within the next five years? Could the DA rule the country in 2024? Will the EFF form an alliance with the ANC? What should we do to make our economy grow at levels that will impact on poverty and inequality? Will we become a more tolerant or a more violent society?

In Fate of the Nation scenario expert Jakkie Cilliers answers all these and many other questions. He has developed three detailed scenarios for our immediate future and beyond -Bafana Bafana, Nation Divided and Mandela Magic.

According to Cilliers the ANC is in many ways paralysed by the power struggle between what he calls the Traditionalists (supporters of Jacob Zuma) and the Reformers (led by Cyril Ramaphosa and others). This power struggle leads to policy confusion, poor leadership and general ineptitude in the civil service.

Key to which scenario will become our reality is who will be elected to the ANC’s top leadership at their national conference in December 2017. Whichever group wins will determine what our future holds. We could also see a compromise grouping being selected, Cilliers says, in which case the Bafana Bafana scenario – where we simply muddle along as a country – is the strongest possibility.

A book for all concerned South Africans.

Jakkie Cilliers is a well-known political and Africa analyst and commentator. He was the executive director of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) for many years and currently serves as chairman of the board of trustees. Cilliers has written and published several dozen books, monographs and papers. He is an Extraordinary Professor at the Centre of Human Rights and the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria. His current interests relate to issues around South Africa and Africa’s long-term future.

Hitmen for Hire: Exposing South Africa’s Underworld
Mark Shaw

When you next sit down at your local coffee shop, look around you: there may just be a professional hitman sitting at the next table. As author Mark Shaw reveals in this highly original and informative book, the ‘upper world’ sails perilously close to the underworld.

Hitmen for Hire takes the reader on a journey like no other, navigating a world of hammermen (hitmen), informers, rogue policemen, taxi bosses, gang leaders and crooked businessmen. The book examines a system in which contract killings have become the norm, looking at who arranges hits, where to find a hitman, and even what it is like to be a hitman – or woman.

Since 1994, South Africa has witnessed some spectacular underworld killings associated with various industries and sectors. Drawing on over a thousand cases, from 2000 to 2016, Shaw reveals how these murders have an outsized impact on the evolution of both legal and illegal economic activity.

Mark Shaw is director of the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime and senior visiting fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science’s International Drug Policy Project. He was until recently National Research Foundation Professor of Justice and Security at the Centre of Criminology, University of Cape Town, where he is now an adjunct professor.

“Gripping, a must-read. This work is of immense value.” – Vusi Pikoli, former head of the National Prosecuting Authority

“This is an extraordinary, enthralling read. With his unique insight, Mark Shaw has thrown a spotlight onto the underworld, exposing the commercialisation of murder in South Africa. I have interviewed a fair number of hitmen as a journalist, but this book still shocked me from cover to cover.” – Mandy Weiner, author of Killing Kebble

“Mark Shaw takes a subject usually confined to the pages of pulp fiction and turns it into the stuff of serious analysis on the place that assassinations occupy in South Africa’s political, economic and social life.” – Jonny Steinberg, author of A Man of Good Hope

Oor Berge en Dale
Jackie Grobler

Daar is nie ’n grondpad te rof, plaasdraad te hoog of aanwysings te gebrekkig om Jackie Grobler te keer nie. As hy eers ’n monument in sy visier het, sal hy dit vind. In hierdie boek reis hy oor berge en dale van Lichtenburg in Noordwes tot die heuwels van Tabankulu in die Oos-Kaap.

Grobler reis onder meer op die spoor van Voortrekker Carel Trichardt deur Mpumalanga en in KwaZulu-Natal gaan hy na die slagvelde van die Anglo-Zoeloeoorlog.

In Gauteng vind hy monumente ter ere van twee van Suid-Afrika se grootste leiers: Nelson Mandela en Jan Smuts. In die Vrystaat soek hy na oorblyfsels van twee konsentrasiekampe en in Limpopo kom hy af op monumente van ’n Anglo-Boereoorlogkanon (die Long Tom). Sy reise na die Oos-Kaap neem hom na gedenkplekke vir Steve Biko en in die Wes-Kaap gaan hy op die spoor van die Portugese ontdekkingsreisigers. Elke provinsie sal ’n kaart hê wat die monumente aandui.

Ratels on the Lomba
Leopold Scholtz

Charlie Squadron – the iron fist of 61 Mechanised Battalion Group (61 Mech) – led the way on 3 October 1987 during the climactic battle between the South African Defence Force and the Angolan forces on the Lomba River in southern Angola. Ratels on the Lomba places the reader in the midst of the squadron of young conscripts who were taken off to the Border War to fight in this battle.

Not only were they up against a vastly superior Angolan force in terms of numbers and weaponry, but they also had to deal with a terrain so dense that their sight was severely impaired and their movement restricted. Also, even though SADF tactical doctrine clearly stated that tanks had to be countered by tanks, these conscripts had to take on the Angolan tanks in armoured cars with inferior low-velocity guns and thin armour, designed to keep out nothing more than small-arms fire.

Yet, during the battle on the Lomba the 47 Brigade of the Angolan forces was nearly wiped out. This blow-by-blow account of a David vs. Goliath battle takes the reader to the heart of the action.

It is honestly told and vividly described, thanks to interviews with veterans and diary entries that help to recreate the drama of the battle. It is also an intensely human story of how individuals react in the face of death and how the war never left them, even when they returned home.

Dr. Leopold Scholtz is a former journalist and the author of seven books, including the popular The SADF in the Border War (also translated into Afrikaans). He was deputy editor of Die Burger until 2007 where after he headed Media24’s European office in the Netherlands. He retired in 2013, but still regularly contributes analyses on international politics and current affairs to a variety of publications. In 1997 Scholtz was recruited in the Reserve Force of the South African National Defence Force where he served as staff officer (captain) at several head quarters. He was also extraordinary professor at Stellenbosch University between 1997 and 2009.

Ook beskikbaar in Afrikaans as Ratels aan die Lomba.

The Fifth Mrs Brink
Karina M. Szczurek

Karina M. Szczurek’s soul-baring memoirs of her life before, with and after her marriage to André P. Brink details a year of widowhood and a love to last a lifetime. This is the book which shows decisively that Karina is a writer in her own right, still coming in to her full creative powers, and simultaneously silences any gossips who might still have disbelieved Karina and André Brink’s love for one another.

A homage to a marriage cut tragically short by Brink’s death, in 2015 at 79 years old, and a diary of creative dissolution and knitting back together, The Fifth Mrs Brink combines enough literary skinner, salacious detail and moving romantic description of dealing with the death of a loved one to satisfy fans of her and her husband, both old and new.

An extract from Karina’s poignant blog entry about her process of writing and publishing The Fifth Mrs Brink:

I finished the first draft of The Fifth Mrs Brink in July. In September, I asked for the rights to my book back. I had to leave; I had no way of staying. If I wanted to truly take care of my and André’s stories, I had to find a home for them elsewhere. I submitted my memoir to another publishing house. They made me an offer. My new publisher gave me a book she thought might interest me: Second-Hand Time by Svetlana Alexievich, an account of how people survive, and make sense of, tyranny and massacres – by weaving tapestries of stories to keep us safe at night. The words of Second-Hand Time live in my bones.

In the evening of the 1st of November, someone asked me online which great writer I would like to have tea with. There is only one: The One. He liked his tea white with two sugars. And when he wanted to spoil me, he baked scones for us for breakfast.

I don’t know what I dreamt in the night of the 1st of November, but I know I slept through it. That in itself is a gift, a good omen. Uninterrupted sleep had become rare in the past few months, although I am mastering it again. In the morning of the 2nd, I had a scone at my favourite coffee shop. I drove to Woodstock in the little car that a friend lent me after my accident. I parked underneath the big red building, found my way upstairs to the 4th floor where kind people were waiting.

It is perhaps fitting that the publication of The Fifth Mrs Brink will be delayed by a few months next year to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the first time I became a refugee when my family escaped the tyranny of Communist Poland and sought asylum in Austria.

Arriving on the doorstep of Jonathan Ball Publishers, I felt like a refugee who had sailed through treacherous waters in a derelict dinghy and found her way to the shores of a safe haven. With only my ancient fountain pen in the bag I carried, I was seeking asylum again. Massacres and tyranny can be intimate, private, go nearly unnoticed. I am not the only one who survives by telling stories. My stories are safe now.

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“Lots of muti to chew with an unrelenting, dangerous plot” -The Cape Argus reviews Dying to Live

Dying to LiveWhen the body of a Bushman is discovered near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the death is written off as an accident.

But all is not as it seems. An autopsy reveals that, although he’s clearly very old, his internal organs are puzzlingly young. What’s more, an old bullet is lodged in one of his muscles … but where is the entry wound?

When the body is stolen from the morgue and a local witch doctor is reported missing, Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu gets involved. But did the witch doctor take the body to use as part of a ritual? Or was it the American anthropologist who’d befriended the old Bushman?

As Kubu and his brilliant young colleague, Detective Samantha Khama, follow the twisting trail through a confusion of rhino-horn smugglers, foreign gangsters and drugs manufacturers, the wider and more dangerous the case seems to grow.

A fresh, new slice of ‘Sunshine Noir’, Dying to Live is a classic tale of greed, corruption and ruthless thuggery, set in one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, and featuring one of crime fiction’s most endearing and humane heroes.

Alan Peter Simmonds recently reviewed the sixth title in Michael Stanley’s Detective Kubu-series for the Cape Argus:

It has been suggested that Detective Kubu Bengu, hero of this series of detective thrillers set in Botswana, should be a contender for his own series like Alexander McCall Smith’s and I agree.

This sixth book in the series was my introduction to the African crime fighter; I look forward to reading all the books.

Real Africa, colloquial language, Botswana and the Kalahari unfold like the evening sky anywhere on the continent.

In this novel, already acclaimed by critics worldwide, the likeable, home-loving Bengu and his resilient young detective assistant Samantha Khama, plus a collection of savoury and non-savoury characters, tell a tale of death, deceit and intrigue in the sun, with conviction.

Continue reading Simmonds’ review here.

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