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Expand your reading list with stellar novels, some from Cape Town writers. All from South Africa.
Last Update 19 April 2017
Oh how we love to read a good book, especially if it’s by one of our beloved and talented South African authors! Here, we invite you to get to know a few of our national writing heros.
You can use this as your to-read list, we have compiled our own list of MUST reads too. Get to know our local talent and their internationally acclaimed works. Learn a little more about the brilliant minds that brought you some enthralling reads!
Lauren Beukes was born on June 5th, 1976 and grew up in Johannesburg South Africa. She obtained her Masters degree in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town. Beukes is the author of The Shining Girls (2013), which is a novel about a time-travelling serial-killer and a survivor who changes the hunt. It went on to win The Strand Magazine Critic’s Best Novel Award, the RT Thriller of the Year, the Exclusive Books Readers Choice Award and the prestigious accolade, The University of Johannesburg Prize.
She is also the author of the hardboiled crime thriller, Zoo City (2011), which showcased issues regarding magic, crime, the music industry, redemption and refugees in a re-imagined Johannesburg. Beukes also won the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Kitschies Red Tentacle for best novel. The cover artwork on the novel received the 2010 BSFA award for best art.
Reading List: The Shining Girls, Zoo City and Moxy Land.
Sindiwe Magona grew up in a township near Cape Town and graduated from the University of South Africa with a Master of Science Degree in Organisational Social Work from Columbia University and in 1993 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Hartwick College, Oneonta. In 1997 she became a fellow at the New York Foundation for the Arts in the nonfiction category.
She has worked within the United Nations for over 20 years in different roles, retiring in 2003. In 2007 she was awarded the Grinzane Award for writing that addressed social concerns, the Molento Gold Medal for promoting Xhosa culture and language and a Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to South African Literature. Further she was awarded the Order of iKhamanga in 2011 which is a Presidential Award and the highest accolade in South Africa.
Reading List: To My Children’s Children (an autobiography), Mother to Mother (a fictionalized account of the Amy Biehl killing) and Beauty’s Gift.
Deon Meyer is a South African-born thriller novelist, whose books have been translated into over 20 languages. He studied at Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education where he studied for a BA degree with English and History as majors. He later obtained an honours degree at the University of the Free State.
Being a long-time resident of Melkbosstrand, it is no surprise that he wrote many novels from this location. Most of his novels are based in Cape Town with thrilling chases and suspense ridden scenes taking place through real and imaginary places in the Mother City. He is currently a full-time writer and interestingly enough his hobbies include touring Southern Africa on a motorcycle.
Reading List: Thirteen Hours, 7 Days, Icarus
Andrew Brown is a South African writer who is best known for his novel Inyenzi, which is centered around the Rwandan genocide, he had also written crime novels such as Coldsleep Lullaby, Refuge and Solace. Brown has also written a non-fiction novel called Street Blues which is written about his experience as a police reservist.
He is influenced by both William Boyd and Ian McEwan, a police reservist in the South African Police Service and an advocate respectively. He was the recipient of the 2006 Sunday Times Fiction Prize for Coldsleep Lullaby. He has also been shortlisted for both the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Alan Paton Award.
Reading List: Coldsleep Lulaby, Refuge, Solace, Inyenzi
Being the 2003 Nobel Prize winner, John M. Coetzee is one of the most internationally acclaimed writers who has produced fascinating content over the years. Coetzee addressed politically charged issues such as race and class in his experimental approach to prose.
His work is somewhat unconventional as he amplifies traumas of South Africa in a magnified and symbolic manner through his characters and storylines. He combines incidents in his own life with the country’s ruptures which creates a depth to his writing which he is praised for.
Reading List: Waiting for the Barbarians
Winning the Noma Award - Africa’s most prestigious literary accolade, in 1984, Njabulo Ndebele has explored ways forward for the post-apartheid South Africa in a search for expression through both an individual and political level. His stories are centred around ordinary people living in extreme poverty in Cape Town’s poorest townships.
His critical writing has made him one of the most noteworthy writers over the decades, producing pieces which deal with his positive reading of a post-apartheid pretense of reconciliation - offering thoughts around hypocrisy and coping mechanisms.
Reading List: Fools and Other Stories The Cry of Winnie Mandela, Umpropheti/The Prophetess, Death of a Son, Bonolo and the Peach Tree, Sarah, Rings, and I.
Ingrid de Kok
De Kok is one of South Africa’s most noteworthy poets and academics. She is a Fellow at the University of Cape Town, and Associate Professor in Extra-Mural Studies. She has been a consultant for various adult educational courses and events, including writers, seminars, and cultural forums.
She has co-ordinated school and public programmes to the development of a reading culture in South Africa.She is part of the committee of the National Arts festival in Grahamstown and is placed with the responsibility for the convening of the Winter School from 2000 to 2005. She currently sits on the National Arts Council Literary Advisory Committee as well as being on the Chair of the South African Association of Canadian Studies.
Reading List: de Kok’s poems published in South African journals; Upstream, Sesame, Staffrider, Contrast, New Contrast, New Coin, and Carapace.
Krog at the young age of 17, produced her first book of verse and within the following two years she has published a second collection titled: Januarie-suite (January Suite). She has published many volumes since then including one in English. Her poetry attempts to engage with an audience with topics of love, apartheid, the role of women and the oiics of gender.
Her work has been translated into English, Dutch and many other languages. Krog’s best known for her book, Country of My Skull, which chronicled the TRC. When the TRC hearings were completed in 1997, Krog took up the post of Parliamentary Editor at SABC. A Change of Tongue, her second work of prose in English, recounts ten years of evolution after South Africa's first democratic elections. It deals with how South Africans have made changes since the end of apartheid in a fictional, poetic and at times humourous manner.
Reading List: Dogter van Jefta (Daughter of Jephtha),Januarie-suite (January Suite). Country of My Skull, A Change of Tongue, There was this goat.
Born in Vanrhynsdorp, Western Cape, she went to high school in Cape Town and attended the University of Western Cape. After she graduated she went to England in 1970 and continued her studies at Reading University. She lived in Nottingham and Glasgow before returning to South Africa in 1990 to teach English at the University of the Western Cape.
She was a professor of Creative Writing at the University of Strathclyde until 2009, and the a Professor Extraordinaire at Stellenbosch University from 2005 to 2011; currently she is a Emeritus Professor a the University of Strathclyde. He is best known for her short-story collections and her method of interweaving the real and fictional together - using apartheid and post-apartheid incidents in a fictitious way.
Reading List: You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town David's Story, Playing in the Light, The One That Got Away,October, Her short stories have been published in many collections, including Colours of a New Day: Writing for South Africa and Daughters of Africa
By Tarina Meiring
Have a look at the interesting things to do around Cape Town with the Deon Meyer Mystery Day Tour. Check out the Silo Hotel and the quaint venues it houses such as the Willaston Bar or the epic Check out the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa at the V&A Waterfront.
Find out who is the interim replacement for Mayor Patricia de Lille as Western Cape leader of the DA. See when the Mother City became the e-commerce hub of South Africa.
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