Homegrown Honeys – a selection of proudly South African reads to celebrate Heritage Day
To celebrate Heritage Day this year, Penguin Random House SA has rounded up a list of some of our favourite books written by proudly South African authors.
Which one will you be reading first?
by Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu
This is indeed a story of mercy – and the redemption it offers. On the eve of his retirement, Spokes Moloi, a police officer of spotless integrity, investigates one final crime: the possible murder of Emil Coetzee, head of the sinister Organisation of Domestic Affairs, who disappears on the same day a ceasefire is declared and the country’s independence beckons. In following the tangled threads of Coetzee’s life, Spokes raises and resolves conundrums that have haunted him, and his country, for decades under colonial rule. In all this, he is staunchly supported by his paragon spouse, Loveness, and his unofficially adopted daughter, the unorthodox postman Dikeledi.
In her most magnificent novel yet, award-winning author Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu showcases the history of a country transitioning from a colonial to a postcolonial state with a deft touch and a compassionate eye for poignant detail. Linked to The Theory of Flight and The History of Man, Ndlovu’s novel nevertheless stands alone in its evocation of life in the City of Kings and surrounding villages. Dickensian in its scope, with the proverbial bustling cast of colleagues both good and bad, villagers, guerrillas, neighbours, ex-soldiers, suburban madams, shopkeepers, would-be politicians and more, The Quality of Mercy proposes that ties of kinship and affiliation can never be completely broken – and that love can heal even the most grievous of wounds.
by Fred Khumalo
I caught a glimpse of my mother busy stuffing her own loot into a bag. On seeing me, she grinned. ‘Are you on a sight-seeing trip, girl? Come on, roll up your sleeves and work!’ She was a huge woman with the agility of a thin girl. Think of the well-endowed Queen Latifah moving like Sho Madjozi.
A car has collided with a Coca-Cola truck in Alexandra. The overturned trailer is spilling its contents, which residents are carrying off in their plastic ‘Shangaan Gucci’ bags. With two other bystanders, Lerato Morolong, age fourteen, helps the injured truck driver. The woman who drives them to hospital is Professor Ngobese, matriarch of the family at Number 80, the only house in the neighbourhood with a street address, aka Those White People.
Here begins Lerato’s relationship with the Ngobeses – Auntie Gugu and her daughter Janine, who becomes Lerato’s bf and one half of the dancing duo, Two Tons o’ Fun (because life’s too short to spend in a tent dress).
As Lerato’s story unfolds, you’ll meet her quick-fingered, beer-loving, man-eating mom June-Rose, who’s not afraid to use the knife she keeps in her bra, and has passed on her tough survivor’s spirit to her daughters, especially 12-year-old Florence. When June-Rose brings home yet another man, Florence runs away with dire consequences. Revelations emerge, such as the truth about Lerato’s father, who lost his way in the conflicts at the end of apartheid.
Rich and humorous, this vibrant coming-of-age story sees a young woman uncover her skill as a writer, explore her sexuality, travel, and finally understand her mother.
by Quraisha Dawood
A glimpse into the private lives of a group of women in Durban’s Muslim community
At Summer Terrace flats in hot and humid Durban, the friendships between the women are as intricate as the curling patterns of henna tattoos.
Meet old Aunty Ruki, who lives with her domestic worker, Joyce, an arrangement that ruffles many feathers. There’s Zaina, who has her sights on becoming an architect, and her mother Rabia, a florist, and yes, she’s divorced. Zaina hides a secret that could cause a rift in their relationship: his name is Imraan, and dating him simply isn’t allowed.
Dive into this swirl of madams and maids, women and their husbands, children, grandchildren, and in-laws, a world bristling with life and vitality, amid judgements and forgiveness, secrets and lies, expectations and disappointments.
Prepare for a wedding, a theft, Ramadaan, and a passing, while delicious recipes for traditional cuisine add local spice to life at Summer Terrace.
by Charlie Human
Clementine Khoza is a hard person; hard to know, hard to love, hard to fight. When she was a little girl, her grandfather put a stick and a shield in her hands and taught her the ancient stick-fighting art of her Zulu ancestors. The hard way.
And right now she is in a hard place, searching for Drew, her young son – kidnapped and drawn into the heart of a vicious gang conflict. Ex-army and ex-cop, Clementine has tracked Drew’s phone to Welcome Shade – a sprawling retirement estate that has fallen into disrepair to become a gang-infested war-zone. With nothing but a talent for violence, a drone piloted by a skinny Afrikaans street kid as her eye-in-the-sky, and a huge dog with ptsd who tried to kill her and then, somehow, became her sidekick, she’ll wield stick and shield, machete and shotgun, and wade through a sea of bodies to find her son.
But the gangs are only part of the problem. Dark, twisted things stalk the estate: nightmare creatures, elite military snipers working as mercenaries and a sword-wielding man on a white horse who has made her and Drew part of his agenda. And then there are the memories and visions of her ancestors, and her own very special hallucination whom she nicknames ‘Glitch’.
It’s going to be a hard day.
by Justin Fox
Jack Pembroke is thrust from a London desk job into the jaws of World War ii. As a young naval officer, he sees his ship sunk under him at Dunkirk, an event that leaves him defeated. After recovering in London, Jack sails for South Africa to join his admiral father at the Cape where a fledgling naval force is preparing to fight the coming onslaught of German raiders and u-boats in the South Atlantic. Jack is appointed commander of a small minesweeping flotilla – an inept bunch of South African sailors who distrust this foreign captain forced upon them – and must quickly mould them into a fighting unit.
Meanwhile a Nazi commerce raider, a powerful warship disguised as a neutral merchant ship, has left Germany for the Cape, intending to wreak havoc on Allied shipping. Jack and his flotilla will be pushed to the limit – and beyond.
A sweeping historical adventure, The Cape Raider is the tale of a broken hero who has to find himself despite the trauma of war, a domineering father and the death of his mother during the Blitz. He must adapt to a new country, a new navy and new love, and finally he must come face to face with the Nazi raider in a fight to the death in the icy seas off the southernmost tip of Africa.
by Terry Westby-Nunn
Where is Sophie?
Infamous Cape Town artist Sophie Tugiers has been missing for several years. Her mysterious disappearance caused a brief ripple before dissolving into a distant media memory. Sophie’s controversial art alienated many
people: those who didn’t consider her a sell-out thought her last exhibition was sadistic – after all, one of her experimental participants committed suicide.
James Dempster is a jaded filmmaker with a whiskey problem. Following his acrimonious divorce, he needs a project to relaunch his stalled career. When he discovers he’s living in the flat Sophie once rented, he is drawn into her sinister tale.
What really happened to Sophie? What are her friends and enemies hiding? After James’s flat is ransacked and his research stolen, he realises unearthing the truth could lead not to his redemption but to his demise.
The Artist Vanishes explores ambition and success, guilt and responsibility, the ethics around animal research, and art’s lasting impact on those it touches.
by Antjie Krog and Ingrid de Kok, with illustrations by Fiona Moodie
Southern Africa has the richest and most diverse grouping of succulents in the world. Vetplant Fairies is a collection of verse for children about indigenous succulents and the imaginary beings who live among them, written by two of our finest poets, Ingrid de Kok and Antjie Krog. The book is beautifully illustrated in full colour by Fiona Moodie in the style of Fynbos Fairies, its hugely successful predecessor. The scientific name for each plant is included in this enchanting new classic.
Ook beskikbaar in Afrikaans.
Tags Ancestral Antjie Krog Charlie Human Fiona Moodie Fred Khumalo Heritage Day Ingrid de Kok Justin Fox Penguin Random House SA Quraisha Dawood Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu South Africa Stirring the Pot Terry Westby-Nunn The Artist Vanishes The Cape Raider The Quality of Mercy Two Tons o' Fun Vetplant Fairies