New book alert! Winnie and Nelson: Portrait of a Marriage by Jonny Steinberg
 More about the book!

Winnie and Nelson: Portrait of a Marriage by scholar and award-winning author Jonny Steinberg will be published on 19 May by Jonathan Ball Publishers.

Steinberg is heading to South Africa to promote his new book. He will be attending the Franschhoek Literary Festival and the Kingsmead Book Fair, and will be on tour in Cape Town and Johannesburg between 19 and 29 May. Details below.

‘Based on far-ranging research as well as on a trove of recently uncovered materials – as deeply sympathetic to Winnie, caught up in the whirlwind of insurrectionary violence, as to Nelson, trapped in his prison cell and losing touch day by day with the evolving situation on the ground – Steinberg’s massive essay in political biography is unlikely to be superseded in a long time.’ – JM Coetzee, Nobel Laureate 2003

‘With delicacy and depth, Steinberg forces an uncomfortable, but necessary reckoning – who are our heroes behind closed doors? The love story of Winnie and Nelson Mandela is about two colossal figures with big dreams and deep flaws. In putting the spotlight on their imperfect humanity, Steinberg gives us rare insight into the choices made by one of the world’s most famous couples, choices that led South Africa to a crossroads between divergent paths. This is a bold and urgent book. A painful one, too.’ – Redi Tlhabi, award-winning journalist and author

‘In heartbreaking detail, Jonny Steinberg adds up the catastrophic toll on these two lives and the lives of people around them. Yet he never takes his eye off the larger picture, and the damage done to the Mandelas comes to stand for the damage done to millions; their history is the history of modern South Africa. Even more impressively, he manages to illuminate two different political traditions through the personalities of Winnie and Nelson, and to give a fresh understanding of the crossroads at which my country now stands. Gripping and profoundly moving, this is Jonny Steinberg’s finest book.’ – Damon Galgut, Booker Prize-winning author of The Promise, in Literary Hub

‘It takes a special talent to write about Winnie Madikizela and Nelson Mandela without collapsing under the weight – part myth, part hagiography, part obfuscation – that these two towering figures bring to bear on the historical record. Jonny Steinberg is that special talent. Only Steinberg could have written a book in which Winnie and Nelson can appear both larger-than-life and all too human. What a book! What an achievement!’ – Jacob Dlamini, historian and award-winning author

One of the most celebrated political leaders of our time, Nelson Mandela has been written about by many biographers and historians. But in one crucial area, his life remains largely untold: his marriage to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

During his years in prison, Nelson grew ever more in love with an idealised version of his wife, courting her in his letters as if they were young lovers frozen in time. But Winnie, every bit his political equal, found herself increasingly estranged from her jailed husband’s politics.

Behind his back, she was trying to orchestrate an armed seizure of power, a path he feared would lead to an endless war. Steinberg tells the tale of this unique marriage – its longings, its obsessions, its deceits – making South African history a page-turning political biography.

Winnie and Nelson is a modern epic in which trauma doesn’t affect just the couple at its centre, but an entire nation. It is also a Shakespearean drama in which bonds of love and commitment mingle with timeless questions of revolution, such as whether to seek retribution or a negotiated peace.

Steinberg reveals, with power and tender emotional insight, how far these forever-entwined leaders would go for each other and where they drew the line. For in the end, both knew theirs was not simply a marriage, but a struggle to define anti-apartheid policy itself.

Steinberg is the author of several books about everyday life in the wake of South Africa’s transition to democracy. He is a two-time winner of the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award, and an inaugural winner of the Donald Windham-Sandy M Campbell Literature Prizes. Until 2020, he was professor of African studies at Oxford University. He currently teaches part-time at the Council on African Studies at Yale University’s MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies and is visiting professor at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (Wiser) in Johannesburg.

Book event details

Franschhoek Literary Festival dates:

Friday 19 May at 14:30
Prisoners of Love
Description: Winnie & Nelson is a shattering, revelatory account of a relationship that shaped South Africa’s journey to freedom. Jonny Steinberg speaks to Hlonipha Mokoena about Winnie and Nelson’s unique marriage – its longings, its obsessions, its deceits – in this page-turning political biography. – Sponsored by Ninety One SA
Venue: NG Church
Duration: 60 min

Sunday 21 May at 10:00
Prisoners of Love
Description: Joanne Joseph speaks to Jonny Steinberg about Winnie & Nelson: Portrait of a Marriage – a shattering, revelatory new account of a relationship that shaped South Africa’s journey to freedom, drawing on explosive new material.
Venue: New School Hall
Duration: 60 min

Kingsmead Book Fair date:

Saturday 27 May at 11:00
Interrogating our struggle credentials
Description: Mignonne Breier (Bloody Sunday: The Nun, the Defiance Campaign and South Africa’s Secret Massacre), Lucas Ledwaba (A Desire to Return to the Ruins), Siphokazi Magadla (Guerrillas and Combative Mothers: Women and the Armed Struggle in South Africa) and Jonny Steinberg (Winnie and Nelson: Portrait of a Marriage) talk to Siphiwo Mahala (Can Themba: The Making and Breaking of The Intellectual Tsotsi – A Biography) about our unexplored histories.
Venue: Lange Hall
Duration: 60 min

Cape Town Press Club, Kelvin Grove
Monday 22 May, 12:30 for 13:00, R350 (includes lunch and refreshments), Book here:

Book Lounge Cape Town
Monday 22 May, 17:30 for 18:00, RSVP:

Wits, WISER, Johannesburg
Tuesday 23 May, 17:30 for 18:00, RSVP:

Love Books, Johannesburg
Wednesday 24 May, 17:30 for 18:00, RSVP:

The Holocaust & Genocide Centre, Johannesburg
Thursday 25 May, 18:00 for 18:30, RSVP:

Rabbi Cyril Harris Community Centre, Johannesburg
Sunday 29 May, 10:30 for 11:00, R120 (includes refreshments), Book here:

For more event info click here.

Categories Non-fiction South Africa South African Current Affairs

Tags Book events Book launches Jonathan Ball Publishers Jonny Steinberg New books New releases Winnie and Nelson

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