Africa Reading List

These are a few interesting books (including short reviews / summaries) added to my “besotted with Africa” reading list. Thought I would share them for those interested. I will miss this place…

Banquet at Brabazan – Patricia Schonstein
“Banquet at Brabazan takes us to the heart of Cape Town’s violent inner city, creating a cornucopia of events featuring superb food, romance, a cappella, an angel, Shakespearean drama, reflections on South Africa’s war in Angola, drug-money, a muti murder, visions of the Afterlife and various works of fine art with flashbacks to the wondrous A Time of Angels, one of the author’s previous novels.”

The Marginal Safari – Justin Fox
“I’ve been craving the road for some time, writes Justin Fox – odd words for this most seasoned of travel writers. But there is more to it: Restless, anxious about an uneventful slide into my late 30s… And thus begins ten thousand kilometers around the edge of the Republic. Hugging the comforts which distance offers agitated souls, he bears east from Cape Town. This is fatherland, and for Justin his father’s land, which the famous architect Revel Fox has marked as much as he had shaped his son’s own identity. Justin tarries at outposts and towns; he skips entire cities to favor the off-beat treasures of characters fashioned less by convention than by their own battles against nature or circumstance. Back home his dad is fighting cancer. Having traveled with acute observation he reports like a novelist, stringing together scenes, pictures, communities, and characters to form a totality of what South Africa is today as seen from its margins: a sad, exciting clash of histories and stories.”

The Fear: The Last Days of Robert Mugabe – Peter Godwin
“Peter Godwin’s passionate and courageous memoir catalogues Zimbabwe’s descent into horror with such vivid detail that the squeamish reader would do well to look away now. It comprehensively catalogues the evidence of the depths of depravity to which Mugabe’s goons have descended in their drug and alcohol-fuelled rampage against a citizenry whose only crime has been to show a desire for change. And so it should. This is not a sanitised account, and although my gorge rose as I read some of the descriptions of torture and rape, I am glad Godwin has not spared his readers these details.”

Thirteen Hours – Deon Meyer
“The story revolves around two murders: a young woman, an American tourist, is found brutally killed in the street, and then a music executive is found shot in his home. There’s a lot more urgency to the case involving the girl, not only because of all the media attention and pressure that arises out of the fact that she’s an American but also because there was another girl with her who, it soon becomes clear, is on the run from the murderers, who are trying to chase her down. The case of the music executive seems a bit more straightforward — at first it seems obvious that his wife, found beside the body, dead drunk, with the gun at hand, killed him — but keeps getting more and more complicated (beginning with the fact that he clearly wasn’t killed where he was found).”

“What makes this novel so outstanding is its setting — the new South Africa, where jaded white detectives are still getting used to working with black and “coloured” (in the country’s curious parlance) colleagues — and Meyer’s superlative talent for suspense. (…) Meyer’s novels give rare insights into the texture of everyday life. Above all, though, this is a vigorous, exciting novel that combines memorable characters and plot with edge-of-the-seat suspense.”

Margie Orford – Like Clockwork
“Gritty, fast paced, and violently realistic, Orford has created a Cape Town underworld whose depths reach into the far recesses of human depravity. …. definitely a recommended read. I look forward to reading more from this promising author.”

“Inspired by an article Orford wrote about the trafficking of women and children into Cape Town’s sex industry, the book is about a serial killer targeting young girls and symbolically arranging their bodies in public.

Authorities call Dr. Clare Hart, a police profiler, at the discovery of a body. The case throws up memories of her sister’s rape, possibly by the very people she’s investigating.

Orford’s book satisfies on all levels. She knows what she’s writing about and writes well. The twist in her tale is shocking. Welcome to South Africa, Dr. Hart, we hope to see you again, soon.”

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