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Vier besonderse romans om hierdie langnaweek te lees

‘n Vakansiedag beteken een ding vir lesers: die kans om heeldag met ‘n boek uit te span.

Die vierdae-lange langnaweek wat voorlê gun boekliefhebbers dus die wonderlike geleentheid om nie net een nie, maar víér boeke te kan verslind.

Die volgende vier romans hoort jou heel naweek besig te hou. Geniet.

AgaatAgaat
Marlene van Niekerk

Agaat speel af in die periode 1946 tot 1996 en handel oor die lotgevalle van vier mense op ’n plaas in die distrik van Swellendam. Die verhaal ontvou aan die hand van die verteller, Milla de Wet (née Redelinghuys), waar sy op haar sterfbed probeer sin maak van haar lewe as “oorsprong” van die lotgevalle op ’n familieplaas.
 

Milla, as een-en-twintigjarige erfgenaam van die plaas Grootmoedersdrif, is idealisties. Jak de Wet, aantreklik en spitsvondig, is die man wat sy as lewensgenoot kies om saam met haar ’n model van gemengde boerdery op haar erfgrond aan die Kliprivier onder die Langeberge tot stand te bring. Maar daar is ook Asgat: ’n gebreklike en mishandelde bruin dogtertjie van vyf jaar wat sy anderkant die Tradouw op haar ma se plaas “steel”, en wat sy met ’n streng en liefdevolle hand rehabiliteer en opvoed het by die lig wat sy het. Jakkie, haar eie seun, word sewe jaar ná die aanneem van Asgat gebore – die langverwagte erfgenaam van die familieplaas Grootmoedersdrift.

Die roman openbaar ’n reeks lewensbepalende verskuiwings van mag en nood tussen hierdie vier intiem verbonde mense: Milla, in wese ’n afhanklike, obsessiewe en melankoliese vrou, word op gruwelike wyse ontnugter in haar huwelik. Asgat word herdoop tot Agaat en op dertienjarige leeftyd met die geboorte van Jakkie gedemoveer tot kinderbediende, en in die buitekamer hervestig vanwaar sy die huishouding en die boerdery van Grootmoedersdrift op toenemend tiranieke wyse beheer. Jak herken homself oor die jare met stygende verontwaardiging as die slagoffer van niksontsiende manipulasie deur die twee vroue van die huis. Jakkie, aanvanklik meer Agaat se kind as sy ma s’n, en later meer sy pa se kind Agaat s’n, word ’n vegvlieënier in die Suid-Afrikaanse Lugmag en verlaat uiteindelik die land as politieke vlugteling tydens die nadraai van die oorlog in Angola om in Kanada heenkome te soek en homself te herskool as etnomusikoloog.

Hierdie geskiedenis word onthul terwyl Milla – verlam en van spraak ontneem deur motorneuronsiekte – versorg word deur die diep bedroefde, maar ook wraaksugtige Agaat, nou in haar middeljare. Agaat is die een wat Milla se dagboeke opdiep en berekende seleksies aan die siek vrou voorlees. Sy word op die manier ’n belanghebbende middelaar van Milla se poging tot selfbegrip terwyl sy haar eie lewensloop as aangenome kind, later huisbediende en uiteindelik as sterwensbegeleider van haar “moeder” aan haarself repeteer.

Watter insigte verwerf hierdie twee vroue in mekaar se skuld en onskuld? Watter soort vergifnis en selfvergifnis kan hulle vir mekaar bied? Watter vreemde gedaantes kan die rou om verliese en die berou om oortredings van die verlede aanneem? Hoe moet daar afskeid geneem en gesterwe word? Deur watter soort genade? Wat is die ware aard van wat mens so maklik “liefde” en “sorg” noem? Hoeveel teerheid kan veroorloof en verdra word deur die steeds reeds geskonde self? Hoeseer is elke mens die skepping van die intieme naaste se verlangens? Dít is die vrae wat aan bod kom in hierdie ontstemmende plaasroman.

Dit is ’n boek wat die “treurwerk” en die poging tot verledetydsbemagtiging van ’n hele generasie van landelike Suid-Afrikaners onder woorde wil bring en in die proses ook indringende perspektiewe open sowel oor die verantwoordelikheid en die noodwendige feile van die geheue, as oor die prekêre en twyfelagtige aard van die skryfdaad ten opsigte van ’n beroerde verlede en ’n onsekere toekoms in hierdie land. Die leser word deur hierdie teks verlei tot ’n leesavontuur in die uiterste grensgebiede van intimiteit, liefde, geweld en dood.

Die Silberstein-trilogie

Die Silberstein-trilogie
Etienne Leroux

’n Welkome heruitgawe van Leroux se trilogie wat die romans Sewe dae by die Silbersteins (1962), Een vir Azazel (1964) en Die derde oog (1966) insluit. Dit is romans wat in Suid-Afrika en die buiteland hoog aangeslaan is. Nie net het die afsonderlike romans destyds in Brittanje en Amerika (en elders) aandag getrek nie, maar Penguin het ook in 1972 in hul Modern Classics-reeks die trilogie uitgegee onder die titel To a Dubious Salvation(’n heruitgawe het in 1985 gevolg).

Die eerste roman is ’n verslag van Henry van Eeden se weeklange besoek aan die Silbersteins se groot landgoed om Salome, sy toekomstige bruid, te ontmoet. Elke dag lewer bisarre ervarings op en dit word vir Henry ’n inisiasieproses: hy moet sy onskuld verloor en kennismaak met die verweefdheid van die goeie en die bose.

Op die oog af is Een vir Azazel ’n speurroman waar ’n moord opgelos moet word, maar dit gaan ook oor die mens se behoefte aan ’n sondebok: Die agterdog wat opbou en fokus op die Reus Adam Kadmon, ’n verstandelik vertraagde jongman, lei tot ’n tragedie – een van die aangrypendste tonele in die Afrikaanse letterkunde. In die laaste roman moet kaptein Demosthenes H de Goede die magnaat Boris Gudenov opspoor.

Die boek van toeval en toeverlaatDie Boek van Toeval en Toeverlaat
Ingrid Winterbach

Helena Verbloem, leksikograaf van beroep, gaan na Durban as projek-assistent van ’n man wat alle woorde byeen probeer bring wat in onbruik geraak het in Afrikaans. Dan word daar by haar tuinwoonstel ingebreek en haar geliefde skulpe word gesteel.

Die verhaal ontvou rondom die soektog na die gesteelde skulpe. Hierdie soeke raak verweef en verstrengel met die taalbewaringsprojek, die mense wat sy daar leer ken en met haar algemene besinning oor haar lewe – herinneringe aan haar familie, verlore minnaars en liefdes, verliese wat sy gely het. Ek weet wat ’n terapeut sal sê. Agter elke verlies lê ’n vroeër verlies.

Die verlies van my skulpe is ’n voorwendsel (’n jakkalsdraai, ’n verbloeming en bewimpeling) ’n poging van die geslepe psige om die vroeër, pynlike verlies te verdoesel. Dié woorde van die self-ironiserende verteller in hierdie fassinerende roman raak twee van die belangrikste temas aan: verlies en verbloeming.

DonkermaanDonkermaan
André P. Brink

Ruben Olivier se lewe is besig om uitmekaar te val. Sy vrou is dood. Die biblioteek wat die passie van sy lewe was, het hom ‘n pakket aangebied om plek te maak vir ‘n jong swart opvolger. Een van sy seuns het klaar die land verlaat en die tweede staan op vertrek. Sy beste vriend is sinneloos vermoor.

Sy hede word deur drie figure oorheers.

Daar is sy huishoudster, Magrieta, wat hom nie toelaat om te vergeet van die werklike wereld rondom sy soliede ou huis in Nuweland nie. Daar is Antje van Bengale, ‘n jong slawemeisie wat drie eeue gelede tereggestel is en nou nog in die huis bly spook. En dan is daar Tessa, wat een nag uit die reen opdaag op soek na blyplek en soos ‘n donker maan die landskap van sy lewe belig met die teenstrydige onthullinge uit haar verlede en die uitdaging van haar troebel seksualiteit.

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Book launch: Being Kari by Qarnita Loxton

Kwela Books and the Book Lounge invite you to the launch of Being Kari, the exhilarating debut novel by Qarnita Loxton.

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Albie Sachs in conversation with Shamim Meer at Cape Town launch of Fatima Meer: Memories of Love and Struggle

Fatima Meer: Memories of Love and Struggle will be launched in Cape Town on 12 April 2017. Shamim Meer will be in conversation with Albie Sachs.

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Cape Town launch: Cult Sister by Lesley Smailes

Tafelberg Publishers and The Book Lounge invite you to the launch of Cult Sister by Lesley Smailes. Lesley will be in conversation with Shado Twala.

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“If we do not remove Zuma and his sinister associates, the consequences will be dire,” writes Mathews Phosa

Lawyer, activist, politician and author of Deur die oog van ‘n naald, Mathews Phosa, recently wrote a column on South Africa’s current political climate under the rule of Jacob Zuma. Read an extract here:

On waking up last Friday morning, we learnt that our trusted finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, had been removed under the cover of darkness at the stroke of midnight.

Following the disastrous appointment of Des van Rooyen on December 9 2015, Gordhan was handed a poisoned chalice and worked tirelessly to prevent our beloved South Africa from being downgraded to junk status.

Since 2000, South Africa had enjoyed the benefits of a good credit standing. It took hard work and dedication to gain an investment-grade rating following the ruinous legacy of apartheid.

The finance team which effected this result was initially led by Chris Liebenberg.

He was succeeded in 1996 by Trevor Manuel. During his 13-year term, Manuel was a household name here and became the flagbearer for our stable economy on the global stage.

When Gordhan took over from him, the protracted honeymoon that we had enjoyed since the dawn of our democracy, April 28 1994, was over.

Continue reading For the sake of the poor, just go at news24.com.
 

Deur die oog van 'n naald

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“It brought me closer to her,” says Shamim Meer on writing mother Fatima’s memoir

Hyde Park’s Exclusive Books recently played host to the launch of writer, academic and anti-apartheid activist Fatima Meer’s memoir, Memories of Love and Struggle.

Sisonke Msimang was in conversation with Meer’s daughter, Shamim Meer, who wrote her mother’s memoir.

Msimang lead the conversation by asking Shamim Meer about her mother’s feminist principles, adding how crucial it is for African woman writers to be heard nowadays.

Shamim Meer replied that “she [Fatima] would never have called herself a feminist, but her whole life has been a feminist life; she was a woman who couldn’t be controlled.

“She was a woman to be reckoned with.”

Msimang mentioned Meer’s founding of the Federation of South African Women (FEDSAW) in 1954, the first inclusive women’s federation in South Africa, to which Shamim Meer asserted that her mother was “very conscious about racial unity,” even as a young child.

The subject of Meer’s youth was a recurring topic, as Shamim Meer regularly stated how much she learned about her mother’s childhood. The process of writing her mother’s memoir and discovering so much about her turbulent childhood was emotionally taxing, yet “it brought me closer to her.

“I saw the vulnerability of the child.”

Msimang remarked that, according to Memories of Love and Struggle, Meer couldn’t cook at all. This comment was met with laughter by the audience, yet prompted Meer’s youngest daughter, Shenahz Meer, who attended the launch, to stand up and proclaim:

“To us, as children, it appeared that there was nothing our mother couldn’t do. She could march, she could write, and she could cook!”


 
Meer’s statement was received with applause.

Msimang was curious to know what Meer’s stance would be on the current political climate of South Africa, especially in the light of nationwide anti-government protest marches which were to take place the following day (April 7).

“She would be in the frontline!” a relative laughed from the audience.

Shamim Meer replied that her mother would have said “let’s get up and continue, shouting, no matter how old or young you are.”

The audience made their agreement known by applauding, and interjecting with a few ‘whoops’.

Head of NB Publisher’s non-fiction department, Erika Oosthuysen, concluded the evening by thanking both Msimang and Meer, and declaring Memories of Love and Struggle an “amazing” book.

“Next time, we want to read your story,” Oosthuysen said to Shamim Meer.

To which we can only reply with a resounding ‘yes, please’.
 

Fatima Meer

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Watch a video of Niki & Jude Daly illustrating their new picture books

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Surprise! Surprise!Surprise! Surprise!

One day Mr Tati brings home a surprise – a sweet little piglet with a rosy face and curly tail! How Mr and Mrs Tati love their piggy baby – but what will happen when the piglet goes to school?
And could this tale have one more surprise at the end of it? A funny and original story showing that families are what you make them, and love is what matters most.

About the author: Lovers of children’s books, art and music have come to know Niki Daly as one of South Africa’s most successful writers and artists. He has been shortlisted for the coveted Hans Christian Andersen Award, and most recently nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Award. He lives with his wife, Jude, also an illustrator, in Kleinmond.
 
 
 
 
 
Six Blind Mice and an Elephant

One hot, hot day, a sleepy elephant wandered out of the forest and into a farmer’s barn. He sniffed around, made himself a cosy bed and fell asleep. Six blind mice scampered out of their mouse-hole to find out what this most unusual creature was like – and came up with six very different ideas! Is an elephant like a wall? A tree? A spear? A fan? A snake or a rope? Children will love to help the six blind mice discover the true wonder of an elephant in this beautifully illustrated animal fable from India.

About the author: Jude Daly is the illustrator of books such as The Dove and Gift of the Sun (winner of the Katrine Harries Award in 1997 and IBBY Honour List in 1996). Other recent titles include To Every Thing There is a Season and The Faraway Island (written by Dianne Hofmeyr). Jude lives in Kleinmond with husband Niki Daly, also an award-winning illustrator.
 

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Read an extract from Lesley Smailes’ account of joining one of the most dangerous existing cults in America

After matric Lesley Smailes took a gap year to the United States. Before she left, her mother, in jest or premonition, said: “Don’t get married and don’t join a cult” – but Lesley ended up in what is considered one of the most dangerous existing cults in America. In Cult Sister Lesley shares the story of her life-changing years with this group – living out of a backpack, an arranged marriage to a Brother, having home births, threats of losing her children and surviving in strange, glorious ways.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Read an extract from her story here:

I am a people person. I love the sense of belonging that comes from being part of a group, a greater whole. Community. ‘You should have been an impala, you are so gregarious,’ my Granny Precious once told me. She was right. So was my Nanny Goodness. With me tied to her back sitting straddled across her ponderous buttocks, she told my mom: ‘This one – her name is Thandabantu!’ That means ‘the one who loves people’ in isiXhosa.

My friends have always been important to me, especially when I was a teenager. We were rebels, wild and free, smoking joints, gate-crashing parties and getting sozzled at popular drinking spots. Like strands of thread on a poncho fringe, we joined our lives. What we had in common was the ‘jol’. The high. The experience. The strangeness of growing up in our apartheid-censored country of the late Seventies and early Eighties.

Patti Smith, Talking Heads, The Cure, Rodriguez – music helped us define ourselves and make sense of our world. Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Are You Experienced? Confused and full of wow-wonder, the lyrics of this Jimi Hendrix song became my personal anthem.

The way I saw it, rules were there to be broken. Even now at age 52, though wiser and more circumspect, I am still an unconventional, boundary-pushing person. This has sometimes landed me in a whole lot of trouble, but it has also opened the door for some incredible adventures, leaving me with my abundance of stories.

This one has been painful to remember. How do I explain that for ten long years I was a member of one of America’s most conservative and secretive cults? That for most of the Eighties I dropped out of the world, changed the way I dressed and spoke, bought into a system of beliefs in which women are completely subservient, married a man I barely knew and had three children with him – all of this while crisscrossing the United States, camping in the woods or squatting in unoccupied buildings that often had no electricity and running water, and eating food from garbage bins.

I know it sounds crazy, but I did it. For a whole decade I turned my back on almost everything I knew to be part of a religious group in which adherents spurned almost all modern comforts and behaved as though they lived in olden times.

We did not have an official title, although we referred to ourselves as ‘The Church’ or ‘The Brothers’. Others called us ‘The Bicycle Christians’, ‘The Jim Roberts Group’, ‘The Brethren’ and some ‘The Raincoat People’, probably because of the long garments the brothers wore. The less imaginative called us names like ‘The Dumpster Divers’ and ‘The Garbage Eaters’. Many people would be revolted at the thought of eating ‘rubbish,’ but to be fair the items we procured were generally more than edible and I can’t say I lacked for sustenance. Nor was I made ill by any of it in my years of scavenging for what was freely available. In fact, I reckon I probably ate better than the average American.

One could find anything in dumpsters, it seemed. If a bakery advertised fresh bread, then day-old loaves were thrown away. If cans had even the slightest dent, they were tossed, if fruit was a little bruised or banana skins brown, out they all went. When a bottle of juice in a crate broke, no one cleaned off the broken glass from the remaining sticky bottles – the whole crate just landed up in the dumpster. Anything that reached expiry date was discarded. All goods that were in any way damaged were dumped. There was a cereal factory that threw away hundreds of boxes of All Bran Flakes because they contained too many raisins. We once found almost twenty litres of organic honey turfed out by a health-food distributor because it had crystallised. Huge blocks of cheese were trashed because of a bit of mould. I could go on and on. If we needed anything we just went to the back of the shop that sold it and there was a good possibility that it could be found in the trash. The Brothers called this ‘checking stores’. I could go for months with only five dollars in my wallet and not have to spend it. I neither went hungry, nor paid rent, although I lived in many different houses spanning the whole of the States. We ‘checked stores’, found things, traded, bartered and lived by faith. There is a scripture that says ‘out of the waste places of fat ones shall strangers eat.’ This really applied to us. Because we got almost everything for free, we didn’t need jobs and that allowed us to focus on what was really important.

Our main aim was to talk others into forsaking everything and joining the Church. We used the scriptures to manipulate them into abandoning their families, their jobs, education and lifestyles, encouraging them to drop out of society and be ‘separate from the world.’

We were ‘fishers of men’. I was really gung-ho about this aspect of my discipleship. I can be a very persuasive saleswoman when I set my mind to it. During my years as an ambassador for the Church I had a profound effect on quite a few lives and was successful in talking a number of people into joining us.

Members of the church were constantly on the move, our locations a secret to keep ourselves from being found by our deprived families and friends. I don’t think we ever put ourselves in the shoes of the traumatised relatives who were being ‘forsaken’. We referred to them as ‘flesh relations’ and arrogantly dismissed their grief at being abandoned as ‘worldly sorrow’.

‘Cult’ sounds like such a harsh word. It instantly conjures up images of weird and dangerous sects such as the Children of God, the Moonies and the Branch Davidians. We weren’t as far-out as these groups. But in many ways, although I would never have admitted it at the time, we were a cult. A fairly benign cult but a cult, nevertheless.

A man named Jim Roberts was our leader and we based all our actions on his interpretation of the scriptures in the King James Bible. We referred to him as ‘Brother Evangelist’, or ‘the Elder’. He called the shots. There was to be no questioning, no criticism, no complaints.

What he said went.

How could a rebel like me buy into this? Ironically I think it was the rebellious side of me that found the group so fascinating. They were just so darn radical. It felt romantic, like I was joining a gypsy caravan. We crisscrossed America, drifting between towns and cities, setting up home in abandoned buildings. When we arrived in a new city, the brothers would scout out empty houses and apartments, then go to the deeds office to find the owners’ contact details. They would then phone and ask permission for us to occupy their properties. Often landlords were just grateful to have someone living in these buildings rather than having them stand vacant at the risk of being vandalised. So in return for us doing a bit of light maintenance, we were often allowed to live rent free.

It was only years in that disillusionment set in. My rosetinted glasses slipped and the cracks started to show – but by then there was no turning back. I was married and had three children. Where would I go? The Church was my life. I was Sister Lesley. We were hardcore, almost militant. Our Church made most others seem wishy-washy. On fire, we burned with zeal, often at the expense of our own compassion. So how does a girl from a small town on the southern tip of Africa get involved in all this?

Good question.

 

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Book launch: The Shallows by Ingrid Winterbach

Join Human & Rousseau for the launch of The Shallows by Ingrid Winterbach – translated from the Afrikaans Vlakwater by Michiel Heyns – on 19 April 2017.

Ingrid will be in conversation with Karin Schimke at The Book Lounge.

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The Shallows

 
 
 

Vlakwater

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Book launch: Jump on the Bant Wagon by Nick Charlie Key


 

When blogger Nick Charlie Key was diagnosed with metabolic syndrome in 2014 and started Banting, he trimmed down by 22 kilograms. In this book he’ll show you how you, too, can prepare quick, budget-beating meals and enjoy good health and abundant energy!

Human & Rousseau and Exclusive Books invite you to the launch of Jump on the Bant Wagon. Nick will be in conversation with Simon van Wyk.

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