Linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday – a freebie! I thought I had a whole host of lists about South African books, but it turns out I only ever did one. I have a soft spot for supporting local (to me) authors, and I do think we have some awesome authors so I like spreading the word.
A note on the links used in this post: I don’t have an affiliate link program. I include links to purchase the books only because I really want to encourage reading these books, and sometimes South African titles can be hard to source. In the titles, I have linked to my reviews where they are available, otherwise to their Goodreads pages.
1. Kwezi by Loyiso Mkize
A brand new South African superhero comic, starring authentically South African characters. Such an important step in having representative books, but also a really fun comic that I would recommend widely. I intend on buying every issue, and buying some to donate to the children’s wards at my hospital too.
You can read the first issue online here.
Amazon | South Africans: Bargain Books is currently selling the collector’s edition at ZAR96.
2. Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen
This Middle Grade novel is pure fantasy and as such is not necessarily set in South Africa, but the author is South African and that is reason enough for me to be proud. It’s quite a lovely and unconventional fairytale.
3. Finders Weepers by Penny Lorimer
A creepy boarding-school thriller set in deep rural Eastern Cape. I loved this because of its imagery, and also because it addresses the concepts of belonging and disillusionment so well.
4. A Man of Good Hope by Jonny Steinberg
I shouldn’t really even have to mention this book anymore because I talk about it on here so much, but it really is an incredible book by an incredible author, and so apt for this age where talk of refugees predominates the political arena.
5. Coconut by Kopano Matlwa
This is about being woke, before being woke was popular. It’s about seeking identity in a so-called “colourblind” world. It’s about black consciousness. It’s about learning to say no in a world that demands acquiescence. This book made waves when it was published in South Africa for the first time. It meant a lot to me, and I’m not even the target market. This is an absolute gem.
6. Sister-Sister by Rachel Zadok
Oh, this is such a creepy tale about twins! Creepy and dream-like, realistic with a fantastical undertone. I don’t know how else to describe it but read my review. Zadok is one of our great story-tellers, and she runs Short Story Day Africa.
7. Zoo City by Lauren Beukes
Dubbed “Africa Noir”, this is one of Beukes’ earlier works. She is now more well known for Broken Monsters and The Shining Girls, but Zoo City is one of my favourites. It’s about a South Africa where murderers are burdened by animals – Zinzi’s is a sloth, yay sloths! It’s also got a bit of 419-scams and a whole lot of thrill. Johannesburg is not my favourite city in South Africa, but Zoo City makes it gritty and fascinating.
8. The Spud Series by John van der Ruit
A boys’ boarding school saga, told through the diary of one awkward kid navigating life in post-Apartheid South Africa. I loved it. My dad listened to it on audio and also loved it. It’s fun (boarding school pranks, come at me!) but also quite emotional at times. The books have been made into movies as well, starring a younger Troye Sivan and John Cleese.
9. The Mall Rats Series by Lily Herne
A South Africa take on the zombie-apocalypse. I actually haven’t read the third book yet, but this is one of the few cases where I actually preferred the second book to the first. The book also has a very twisty political aspect to it, and old abandoned malls which I find fascinating. It’s a great series written by a mother-daughter pair, and I wish it got more publicity.
10. A Dry White Season by Andre Brink
Brink died recently but he left a rich legacy of South African literature. A Dry White Season was the first of his books that I read, and it gave me a lot of insight into Apartheid and how deeply it injured our country. It also gave me insight into my parents’ generation, because many of my generation struggle with the question, “How could they have let this happen?”