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Our round-up of 2017's 10 must-read South African books
Our round-up of 2017's 10 must-read South African books
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This is South Africa's Must Read Booklist For 2017

Picture of Carina Claassens
Updated: 1 May 2017
This is South Africa’s must read book list for 2017. From fictional tales told with humor to true crime stories and a must have cookbook, here’s a selection of the earliest releases, including new editions.

A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg by Harry Kalmer

A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg is an ode to Johannesburg and its people. The book tells the story of Sara and her four children at the Turffontein concentration camp in 1901, and of Abraham, who paints the street names on Johannesburg’s sidewalks. Their grandson Zweig, a young architect, has to leave the city after falling in love with the wrong person. Marceline, a Congolese mother, flees to the city only to be caught up in a wave of xenophobic violence. Spanning more than a hundred years, the novel documents the lives of the inhabitants of this African city.

A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg
A Thousand Tales of Johannesburg by Harry Kalmer | Courtesy of Penguin South Africa

Asylum by Marcus Louw

Barry James is detained in a quarantine facility in the Great Karoo where he exists in two worlds: the 
reality of his incarceration and
 the landscapes of his dreams. He has cut all ties with his previous life and his health 
is failing. He clings to the wanderings of his restless mind and the journals he keeps, and when the opportunity to escape arises, he wonders if it there’s still a life for him to return to.

Asylum by Marcus Louw
Asylum by Marcus Louw | Courtesy of Pan Macmillan South Africa

Cold Case Confession: Unravelling the Betty Ketani Murder by Alex Eliseev

Betty Ketani, a mother of three, came to Johannesburg in search
 of better prospects for her family. The book tells the true story written by the reporter who broke the story of her disappearance. Cold Case Confession shares exclusive material gathered in four years of investigations, including the most elusive piece of the puzzle: who killed Betty Ketani and why?

This is an updated edition of this true-crime bestseller.

Cold Case Confession: Unravelling the Betty Ketani Murder by Alex Eliseev
Cold Case Confession: Unravelling the Betty Ketani Murder by Alex Eliseev | Courtesy of Pan Macmillan South Africa

Cult Sister by Lesley Elizabeth Smailes

In Cult Sister, Smailes shares the story of her ten years spent traveling around the United States as a member of a controversial religious group. From living out of a backpack to having home births and entering into an arranged marriage, this tale is told largely through a series of letters between Lesley and her mother.

Cult Sister by Lesley Elizabeth Smailes
Cult Sister by Lesley Elizabeth Smailes | Courtesy of Tafelberg

Free Association by Steven Boykey Sidley

Max Lurie’s podcast about his life has turned into an unexpected success. But its embellishments and inventions are starting to leak into his everyday life. As Max tries to navigate between fact and fiction, things begin to spin out of control.

Free Association by Steven Boykey Sidley
Free Association by Steven Boykey Sidley | Courtesy of Pan Macmillan South Africa

I Write What I Like by Steve Biko, Picador 40th Special Edition

I Write What I Like features the writing of famous activist and black consciousness leader, Steve Biko. This is a collection of his columns published in the journal of the South African Students’ Organisation under the pseudonym of “Frank Talk.” It also contains other journal articles, interviews, and letters written by Biko at the time and a preface by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

With a new foreword by Njabulo S. Ndebele and other additional material.

Book cover: I Write What I Like by Steve Biko, Picador 40th Special Edition
I Write What I Like by Steve Biko, Picador 40th Special Edition | Courtesy of Pan Macmillan South Africa

The South African Milk Tart Collection by Callie Maritz and Mari-Louis Guy

In this must-have cookbook, the authors journey through the famous South African dessert’s history and into its future. There really is a milk tart to suit everybody’s tastes and every occasion. From homemade puff pastry collars to no crust at all, some are flavored with cinnamon, naartjie peel, or peach leaves and other recipes include rum or brandy.

Book cover: The South African Milk Tart Collection by Callie Maritz & Mari-Louis Guy
The South African Milk Tart Collection by Callie Maritz and Mari-Louis Guy | Courtesy of Human & Rousseau

Queen of the Free State by Jennifer Friedman

Growing up Jewish in a small town in the Free State in the 50s and 60s, Jennifer Friedman moves between child and adult and black and white as apartheid divides South Africa. There are midnight escapes, stolen loot, and banned comics. Told with humor and poignancy, this memoir is about love, rebellion, and betrayal.

Book cover: Queen of the Free State by Jennifer Friedman
Queen of the Free State by Jennifer Friedman | Courtesy of Tafelberg

The Yearning by Mohale Mashigo

Marubini, a young woman
 living in Cape Town, has an enviable life, until her past starts to seep into her present. The Yearning is an indelible exploration of the effects of the past, of personal strength and courage, and of the shadowy intersections of traditional and modern worlds.

This is a new paperback edition of this bestselling novel.

Book cover: The Yearning by Mohale Mashigo
The Yearning by Mohale Mashigo | Courtesy of Pan Macmillan

Turning Point by Theuns Eloff

Theuns Eloff takes a look at current issues in South Africa: unemployment and poverty, affirmative action, the education system, crime, and unrest at universities. The book is based on the latest research in the field and Eloff gives a new perspective on where South Africa finds itself. His fresh, positive voice brings hope and gives the reader new ways to understand a changing country.

Book cover: Turning Point by Theuns Eloff
Turning Point by Theuns Eloff | Courtesy of Tafelberg Publishers