Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE


@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Archive for the ‘Book Excerpts’ Category

Minister of Health or Mass Murderer? Excerpt from Lauren Beukes and Nechama Brodie’s Maverick

MaverickIn Maverick: Extraordinary women from South Africa’s past Lauren Beukes and Nechama Brodie tell the story of some of our most famous and infamous women.

Killers, singers, strippers and revolutionaries populate the pages of Maverick; the only thing these real historical characters have in common is that they were – for better or worse – far from ordinary.

News24 has shared an edited excerpt from the book that deals with the much-maligned late Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.

Read the excerpt:

In December 2009, in Johannesburg’s exclusive Donald Gordon Medical Centre, a woman lay dying. There may well have been the backbeat of life-support machines – she was in the ICU after all – and there was certainly a heavy media presence, enough that security guards were posted at the door to her room. But this was no Brenda Fassie. While the bed’s occupant was undoubtedly one of the most notorious women in South Africa, there were no legions of fans praying for her recovery.

In fact, if people were praying at all, it might have been for things to go the other way. Which sounds like a perfectly horrible thing to say, but then again, no one really expects polite condolences for a mass murderer.

Between June 1999 and September 2008, the woman in the hospital bed had been responsible for an estimated 330 000 preventable deaths.

What made the incomprehensible figure worse was that she was no arbitrary murderess, not even a Daisy de Melker. She had been the minister of health.

Book details

» read article

“Perhaps I have Forgotten Everything, and am Fooling Myself” – An Excerpt from Alastair Bruce’s Boy on the Wire

Boy on the WireLiterary web magazine Bookanista recently shared an excerpt from Alastair Bruce’s novel, Boy on the Wire.

In the excerpt, which is entitled “Peter’s house”, John Hyde has returned to his childhood home at the request of his brother, Peter. Walking through the house stirs up memories long forgotten and traumas not yet put to bed.

John questions everything he experiences in his old home – “Perhaps I have forgotten everything, and am fooling myself that I remember.”

Read the excerpt:

It is dawn when I wake. I have slept more soundly than I did in the hotel. There is a spider on my leg. I kick it off and wipe my face in case there are more. I feel dirt wiped onto my face, and dampness. I grit my teeth and there is dirt in them too, as if I have spent the night underground.

The damp is from mist that descended in the night. It is thick and I cannot see the house.

I get up, piss against a tree. My head hurts, my neck too.

I walk down the road to the gate. When I begin to see the shape of the house, I stop. It seems lighter like this. As if I could walk up to the house and then straight through it. Or wave my arm and watch it break and curl away, like smoke. I hold my breath as if even that could make it disappear.

I stand in the hall. All is quiet. I draw in a breath and hold it. Silence. The house smells closed up. Something died in here, I find myself thinking.

I listen. I realise I am listening for Peter.

Book details

» read article

Die Alibi Klub deur Jaco van Schalkwyk benoem vir die 2015 Jan Rabie Rapport-prys

Open Book 2014: Afrikaanse voorlesing

Die Alibi KlubThe Alibi ClubJaco van Schalkwyk se debuutroman is vir die gesogte Jan Rabie Rapport-prys benoem.

Die Alibi Klub kom teen Francois Smith se Kamphoer en Stephanus Muller se Nagmusiek te staan vir die 2015 prys met ‘n kontantwaarde van R35 000. Die wenner sal op 19 November in Kaapstad aangekondig word.

Die Engelse weergawe van Van Schalkwyk se roman, The Alibi Club, is vroeër vanjaar vir die UJ Debuutprys benoem en het ook die langlys vir die 2015 Sunday Times Barry Ronge-fiksieprys gehaal.

Die Alibi Klub het in September verlede jaar by Umuzi verskyn en vertel die verhaal van ‘n jong Suid-Afrikaner wat homself in 1998 in New York vestig. Hy werk as ‘n kroegman in ‘n nagklub, The Alibi, waar hy verskeie karakters ontmoet.

Lees ‘n uittreksel:

The Alibi is ’n dive bar-hool. Die plek het geen sign nie. Al wat wys dat dit ’n bar is, is ’n neon Budweiser-sign wat in die venster hang. ’n Krom Guinness-sign hang langsaan. Die venster is ’n los stuk Plexiglas, twaalf voet breed en ’n halfduim dik, aan die raam vasgeplak met duct tape. Dit is meer ’n lens as ’n venster – verbuig van die sigaretrook, dof gekrap en vuil. Langs die venster lei drie steil sementtrappies af na ’n glasdeur met ’n dik houtraam. Almal val by The Alibi in. ’n Mens moet die deur met jou momentum teen ’n veer aan die binnekant oopwerk.

Wanneer die son skyn staan die deur oop, met ’n stuk tou aan ’n haak teen die muur vasgebind. Wanneer die tou breek, word ’n boks leë bierbottels gebruik om te keer dat die deur toeswaai. Drie gebreekte toue lel teen die muur. Dit is ’n sterk veer. Budweiser-bokse dissiplineer hom die beste. Budweiser se bokse is van kommersiële karton gemaak. Elke boks kom met vriendelike dragate aan die kante. Ander bierbokse gee binne ’n middag in. Leë bierbottels, party in bokse, staan teen die linkermuur tussen die deur en die counter gepak. Bo hulle draai ’n paar vrugtevlieë.

Die meeste van die bokse is oopgeskeur en struktureel mank. Dit is net die Budweiser-bokse wat oorleef.


» read article

“The Past is Not Always the Past”: Read an Excerpt from Things I Thought I Knew by Kathryn White

Emily Green and MeThings I Thought I KnewAnna Peters' Year of Cooking Dangerously

Kathryn White‘s new novel, Anna Peters’ Year of Cooking Dangerously, is a fantastic romantic comedy unlike any other, written after the author’s own love affair with Irish chick lit.

Full of food, sex and interesting men, it tells the story of a year in Anna Peters’ life as she tries to get over a devastating break-up. In a review for the Sunday Times, Jennifer Platt writes: “Food, romance, humour and a bit of mystery: you can’t go wrong, really. Or some can, but Kathryn White doesn’t. Her third novel is on point – it’s sort of like a Marian Keyes set in Joburg.”

All three of White’s novels have been published by Umuzi. Emily Green and Me came first, in 2007, and told the beautiful story of eleven-year-old Emily who received the heart of a seventeen-year-old boy who died in a motor-bike accident. The organ came with an attachment: the boy who had it first is still hanging around.

White’s second book, Things I Thought I Knew, published in 2011, told a different kind of story altogether. It asks the question, what do we ever really know? Living between the past, present and future, Lily is convinced she knows it all. And when she finally meets Adam at university, she’s pretty sure she understand how the situation is going to unfold. But, the the peculiar nature of prescience is that it hasn’t actually happened yet …

Read an excerpt from Things I Thought I Knew for a taste of White’s writing, but be warned – it is nothing like Anna Peters’ Year of Cooking Dangerously (yet is equally unforgettable):


My father was a teacher who kept learning until his spirit dissolved within the lines of his books. My mother was an artist who kept painting until she forgot why she had started. He believed in the
word. She believed in the vision. My sister and I believed in the sky above and the ground below, simple enough.

I was born in apartheid South Africa. I was born in a state hospital, but at the back, through a separate entrance in case I looked different. I did not, and my mother was transferred to a front ward. I was born in 1980. The year Mugabe became president of Zimbabwe, the year JR was ‘shot’ and John Lennon really was. I was born on the 2nd of May – the day the apartheid government banned Pink Floyd’s
‘Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)’ because they thought it would incite black youths to violence.

Book details

» read article

A Whirlwind of Waiting: Louis Greenberg’s Catalogue of a 13-day Mystery Tour

Dark WindowsLouis Greenberg, author of the moody literary thriller Dark Windows, recently embarked on a 13-day mystery tour, sharing his travel album on Instagram.

The journey, titled “A Whirlwind of Waiting”, exhibited “the magic and the mundane, an obsessive cataloguing of ‪‎transport‬ and ‪‎waiting‬, very likely art and food and beer, and unexpurgated pretty random #onthehour shots”, Greenberg wrote on his website before the adventure started. “I’ll be searching for fuel for big questions and the comfort of minutiae; we may find what I’m looking for along the way.”

The question is: will this mystery tour inspire a new novel, or even just fuel the fire of a story he was already working on? We can’t wait to find out!

Head on over to the Instagram account dedicated to Greenberg’s whirlwind of waiting to see snippets of this journey which saw him stopping in magnificent places like London, Brussels and Berlin:



Have a look at Greenberg’s own Instagram account, where he posts images related to things that inspire him creatively:



* * * * * *

For a taste of Dark Windows, read an excerpt we shared last year:

Johannesburg is becalmed. A wave of New Age belief and an apparent cure for crime have radically altered South Africa’s political landscape.

Jay Rowan has been hired to black out the windows of random vacant rooms. He’s trying to keepout of trouble, but he’s a pawn in political aide Kenneth Lang’s project Dark Windows. A mystical charlatan has convinced Lang’s boss that she can affect the ultimate transformation with a supernatural visitation, the Arrival, and Lang needs to prepare for its coming. When Jay and his married girlfriend Beth realise that someone has died in every room, political and personal tensions come to a head and Jay, Beth and Lang must confront the past they’ve been trying to avoid.


Book details

» read article

Read an Excerpt from Sally Andrew’s Recipes for Love and Murder – PLUS a Sample from the Audiobook, Read by Sandra Prinsloo

Recipes for Love and Murder

Recipes for Love and Murder: A Tannie Maria MysteryUmuzi has shared an excerpt from Recipes for Love and Murder: A Tannie Maria Mystery, the debut novel by Sally Andrew, and a sample chapter from the audiobook, read by Sandra Prinsloo.

Murder and intrigue in a small Karoo town marinated in secrets …

Bestselling author of the The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Alexander McCall Smith, praised the novel as “vivid, amusing and immensely enjoyable … a triumph”, while legendary author and poet Christopher Hope comments: “Miscreants, moskonfyt and murder are all on the menu … Recipes for Love and Murder is a delightful debut.”

Listen to Chapter 3 of Recipes for Love and Murder:


This chapter has been taken from the audiobook edition of Recipes for Love and Murder by Sally Andrew, narrated by Sandra Prinsloo. It is published by Whole Story Audiobooks and is available to order in South Africa from Booktalk Pty Ltd.

* * * * *

Read an excerpt from Chapter 1 to Chapter 3 of Recipes for Love and Murder:

Excerpt from Recipes for Love and Murder: A Tannie Maria Mystery by Sally Andrew by Books LIVE


Book details

» read article

Lees uittreksels uit Vlam in die sneeu, André P Brink en Ingrid Jonker se versamelde liefdesbriewe

Flame in the SnowIn November verskyn ‘n baie belangrike stuk Afrikaanse literêre geskiedenis by Umuzi:

Die briewe wat die ontslape skrywer André P Brink en die digter Ingrid Jonker aan mekaar geskryf het toe hulle in die vroeë sestigerjare ’n liefdesverhouding gehad het.

Met Vlam in die sneeu, en Flame in the Snow in Engels, kry lesers ‘n intieme blik op een van die mees bekende en onstuimige liefdesverhoudings in die Suid-Afrikaanse skrywersgeskiedenis. Die briewe onthul nie net hul troetelname en die dinge waaroor hul gedroom en gestry het nie, maar ook hul onderskeie gemoedstoestande tydens hul verhouding wat drie maande voor Jonker se selfmoord tot ‘n einde gekom het.

Brink het kort voor sy sterfte die briewe aan Umuzi voorgelê vir publikasie. Die projek is onlangs hervat deur sy letterkundige weduwee Karina M Szczurek met hulp van Leon de Kock, Karin Schimke en Francis Galloway.

Netwerk24 het ‘n uittreksel uit Vlam in die sneeu gedeel. Lees twee van Brink se briewe aan sy “Liefling-Kokon”, die man wie sy “so verskriklik nodig, té nodig” gehad het; en een van Jonker waarin sy vir haar “liefste André” vra, “Liewe skat, ons moet regtig meer lag”:

My liefste André

Dankie vir jou brief wat net nou so skattig in my deur gesteek het toe ek tuiskom belaai met pakkies, dis baie sonnig op straat en gemaak vir daardie dag in die veld of die duine. As die wit volksie hier was, sou ons kon uitry na Stellenbosch of Paarl, of Houtbaai?

Het jy my mismoedige brief van Donderdag gekry? Jou brief van vanoggend is baie duidelik en ek verstaan volkome hoe jy voel, my skatkind. En tog …

Ek het jou oor die telefoon en in my brief vertel van Jack ­[Cope] se besoek, en wat ek aan hom gesê het, dat jy my wil kom sien, en sy reaksie. Sedertdien het ek hom nie weer gesien nie, en toe ek gister vriendskaplik bel, vra hy: “How are the matrimonial plans going?” Dis ook gevolg. En die gevolge word al meer en meer, en die gevolge in ons sodat jy later miskien hoegenaamd niks daar op Grahamstad sal kan red nie. As dit vir ons albei net ’n avontuur was (want dis óók ’n avontuur) sou alles natuurlik minder ingewikkeld gewees het. Maar ik zal bij jouw [je] blijven. Omdat ek moet en omdat ek wil en omdat dit nie anders kan nie en omdat jy my kosbare ontdekte skat is en omdat jy my liefhet. “The moment you are influenced you are corrupt[ed].” Dis wat Tolstoi sê, en dáárom waak ek soos ’n leeu oor haar kleintjies, oor jou in my. En daarom miskien spot Jan [Rabie] my gisteraand, “Liewe hemel, Ingrid, as ek André Brink se naam noem, verander jou uitdrukking!”



» read article

Can We Ever Trust Our Memories? Read an Excerpt from Boy on the Wire by Alastair Bruce

Boy on the WireSouth African born, UK-based author Alastair Bruce’s new novel Boy on the Wire is an elegy to fragile memories, an ode to entangled lives.

It tells the story of Peter Hyde, who arrives in London just as his brother John starts planning a family of his own. Their shared past, and the pain it contains, pulls John back to the home he grew up in – all the way back in South Africa.

Bruce’s gripping novel asks the poignant question: Can we ever be certain of events that happened that far in the past, certain we have not completely changed their meaning and our part in them?

Boy on the Wire will also be published in the UK by Clerkenwell Press, an imprint of publisher Profile Books. They have shared the prologue and first chapter on the Serpent’s Tail website.

Before you dive in, have a look at the UK cover for Boy on the Wire:

Read the excerpt:

Preview of Boy on the Wire by Alastair Bruce



Book details

» read article

Don’t Turn Your Back on the Cage … Read an Excerpt from Green Lion, by Henrietta Rose-Innes

Henrietta Rose-Innes

Green LionUmuzi has shared an excerpt from Henrietta Rose-Innes’ latest novel, Green Lion.

In a review for the Sunday Times, Hedley Twidle called Green Lion a “remarkable” novel, while in her Magwood on Books Podcast review, Michele Magwood says she believes that Rose-Innes is “steadily cementing her position at the top of the South African literary scene”.

Green Lion is Rose-Iness’ fourth novel, after Shark’s Egg, The Rock Alphabet and Nineveh.

In her conversation with Magwood, available to listen to here, Rose-Innes says: “For quite a long time now I have been interested in the relation between human being and the natural environment.

“In this book, I wanted to examine what I see around me, which is modern human beings’ strange love affair with other creatures, non-human creatures.

“It seems to me a poignant, sad contradiction that as we are losing species, particularly these iconic, big, beautiful animals that have always held such meaning for human beings, they are becoming more central to us, culturally.”

Read an excerpt from Green Lion:

* * * * *


Mossie was standing under the tree outside the Lion House, as he knew she would be. She drifted over to him like smoke settling on his clothes, his skin. He remembered his mother’s musty odour: cigarettes and sweat and sweet eastern scent.

        Con was a little out of breath, and the sweat felt chill on his skin. He’d walked, fast, all across the city from the hospital, jogging at times. It had taken a while; the day had faded, the sky growing soft and purple as a lake, and the cars switching on their pilot lights, approaching white and receding red, as he crossed their glittering wakes.
        It was not intentional; not a route he’d plotted or planned. It was just where the walking had taken him: not back to Elyse’s flat, but up, back up again to the blue-green mountain.

        Con did not touch her. Instead, he started down the path towards the gate. When he glanced back she was following slowly, a strand of hair caught between her slightly open lips.

        “You know I can’t take you all the way in.”

        She nodded.

        “But I can show you. Come.”

        The evening had taken on a velvet density. Together they walked down the pale path, past the sign of the golden lion. No guard at night, with the staff cuts. He closed his hand around the keys in his pocket, heavy and cold.

        He led her along the familiar path, to the grass corridor between the prefabs and the den. The early moon lit the ground only in patches and he felt his way across the space by memory, dodging the spade leant against the wall and the edge of the concrete trough. Then through the small gate into the lion enclosure.

        They stood for a moment in the circular space. He could sense Mossie trembling next to him. He pointed to the barred gate and she almost leapt towards it, putting out her hands as if to push them through the grille. Quickly he pulled her back, shaking his head. Mossie started to speak, and he put his fingers to her mouth. Her lips were slightly open, her breath warm. He guided her to sit next to him on the grass, an arm’s length away from the cage. They waited there for a long time, long enough for their breathing to fall into synch.

        And Sekhmet roared. Con had never been so close before. The sound reached in through his ears and grabbed him by the guts and shook him like a bird in the big cat’s mouth. The bars of the cage shivered and resonated.

        When the last tremor died, Mossie was panting, mouth open. Her eyes were very dark, as if her pupils had expanded massively, like someone on drugs, and he knew what it was: the spike, the rush, the beating heart. He was feeling it too. Without thought, responding to her flushed and open face, he leant forward and pressed his mouth against her cheek – to still her, to hold her back. His teeth pressed softly into her flesh. And she tilted her head towards him and turned the bite into a kiss.

        The mobile warmth of her tongue in his mouth. And before he could gather himself, the scene had changed, and she was moving more forcefully, with some new scheme, some plan. She put her hand on his throat and pushed him down hard. Every sensation was precise, intensified: the cold ground against his back, the pinpricks of the grass against his hands and neck. And it was as if her clothes had already been shaken loose by the rumble of the lion’s voice, because they came off so easily. Her eyes still huge and black as she twisted out of stockings, shirt, panties, bra, the whole cumbersome apparatus of her clothes, dozens of items it seemed, left boot, right boot, the zips so laborious, a long-sleeved vest with buttons, peeling herself free until she was pale against the dark sky. The body revealed was barely human, snakelike, turning, never holding still long enough for him to get a lock on it, to see it all in all – full breast, pale buttock, dark patch between her legs. And then she was on him, cool weight at full stretch, hands pressed into the grass either side of his head, warm breath in his nostrils. He lay there, thinking: me, me too, how am I supposed to shed this skin all on my own?

        But she had that under control. Without releasing him, keeping him pinned, she started on his buttons, breathing deeply through her nose, mouth closed in concentration. She drew the wings of his shirt to either side to bare his chest, and then worked at the belt and the fly, and pulled down his trousers to his ankles until he was lying half-dressed, half-unpeeled, and she was astride and already pushing herself down onto him – the liquid heat of her, skin still cool to the touch – with her forehead bent to touch his and her eyes blank as she moved against him. The movement of her body knocking the top of his head lightly against something hard, over and over until he realised that it was the bars of the cage, and pulling away from them just before he shuddered into her, thinking don’t turn your back …

        When she was quiet again, she moved her weight off him and lay by his side. His mind was empty, his body dissolved in the dark. He lay for a long time staring up at the stars, which appeared and reappeared, as high, unseen black clouds covered and uncovered them like a child’s hands in a game.

        At length he turned away from her so they were lying back to back and he faced the darkness of the cage. He kept one hand draped behind his back, holding her fingers loosely in his so that the turned back didn’t seem too cold. His eyes drank the darkness. He opened his mouth and let the fuzz and buzz of the evening roll out, breathed it out into the black space on the other side of the bars. Losing it all, losing the words; they tumbled out of his head. He let the black roll into him, the black and the silence.

        It was quite a bit later, perhaps, that the quality of the blackness changed; and perhaps he’d slept, or was sleeping still. But he was aware that the dark beyond the bars was no longer empty; it had grown full, plumped with breath and blood. It moved, shifting against the bars, seeming to bow them towards his face. Slowly, he let his hand travel outwards from his body, finding the metal, which seemed warmer now, and through, passing between the bars to touch – very, very gently, with tips of his fingers – some warm, almost feathery surface.

        Sekhmet had come to the bars and laid herself out, was pressing her length against them as if offering her warmth, or seeking his. Con shifted his own body closer, and slowly, millimetre by millimetre, brought his face near. He could feel her heat against his cheeks and forehead, smell her reek. At last his fingers came to rest, very lightly, on her spine.

        He seemed to hold his breath forever, but at some sleepy, barely conscious point he must have exhaled; and then drawn in the lion’s breath, a potion, a sleeping draught.

* * * * *


Book details

» read article

Countering the Tokoloshe’s Bad Repution: Read an Excerpt from Andrew Salomon’s Tokoloshe Song

Tokoloshe SongAndrew Salomon’s riveting fantasy thriller Tokoloshe Song was the short story author and archaeologist’s first novel for adults.

It tells the previously untold story of a shelter for mistreated tokoloshes where a potent duo of midwives team up with volunteer Richard and tokoloshe Lun to fight against Cape Town’s most dangerous villain. This delightfully funny tale was shortlisted for the inaugural Terry Pratchett Prize and made the quarter-finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in 2013.

At the launch of this fantastical novel which is mostly set in Cape Town and the Karoo, Salomon explained that he wanted to turn the tokoloshe’s bad rep on its head and was surprised to find that no other author had written about them before.

Read a short excerpt from Salomon’s novel, shared by Namibiana Buchdepot:

The Cape of Storms was living up to its name. Around the jagged cliffs of Cape Point, ocean liners and cargo ships retreated from the raging surf and treacherous coastline. They disappeared into the night to the relative calm of deeper water while abalone poachers pulled their fast boats onto the land and sat huddled around smoky fires in leaking makeshift shelters. Forty kilometres to the east, brutal gusts of rain and wind whipped against the grey sandstone crags of Table Mountain and battered the city of Cape Town beneath. Richard Nevis watched the rain pelting down outside his window and hoped that the roof of his new workshop at the docks was holding up against the storm.

Book details

» read article