#bestSAbooks? Explain yourself Zadok!

Before I get into big trouble, thought I best explain myself. A few days ago, a fan of Gem Squash Tokoloshe and Sister-Sister asked me to recommend a list of South African titles because, despite being an avid reader, she hadn’t read much local fiction.

In the interest of transparency, I must confess that the connection between said fan and me isn’t actually through my books. We have a history that goes way back. Bronwyn and I met in college; I was an art student, she a hairdressing student – which is ironic because Bronwyn is now a freaking talented photographer who runs her own studio, Heart & Soul Photography. Now that I think about it though, she bloody hated hairdressing. After college, we went our separate ways into the wide world and lost contact. Decades later she saw some hoo-hah in a newspaper about Gem Squash Tokoloshe and, because we were once buds, bought it.

We reconnected through Facebook (as one does) and she told me was how much she loved my book.  This immediately put her on my A-list – as you know we authors are insecure and like to surround ourselves with sycophants. Kidding. Bronwyn is one talented tattooed cat with a wicked sense of humour and a passion for recreating vintage pin up. Needless to say, when I went up to Joburg, we made a date. There, we drank whisky into the wee hours and cemented our friendship. And that, as they say in the classics, is history. Our history, at least.

Back to books. Through Short Story Day Africa, of which she is an official sponsor,  Bronwyn became a passionate supporter of local literature. But, having come late to the party, she missed out on some great titles – it’s not like we writers are front page news around here (except on BooksLive and Aerodrome etc, obviously). So, last night when I got home from a book launch, I started tweeting all the books I loved and thought she might too, adding the hashtag  #bestSAbooks.

The two reasons I did this are: the hashtag #booksyoumightlikeBronwyn is far too long, and after chatting to Bronwyn, we decided that a tag other people could use to recommend their best South African books would be a good promotional tool for local literature.

My list is by no means definitive. I’m tweeting the books I liked and think Brownyn will too. I haven’t read everything out there -who has? A little help from my friends would be greatly appreciated. Please, join in. Tweet your recommendations of #bestSAbooks.

And readers, know these recommendations come with the proviso that you look ’em up and decide for yourself whether you want that title on your bookshelf. Just because we all have a thirteen digit barcode attached to our name, doesn’t mean we all have the same taste.

1 comment

    1. Heart and Soul Photography
    2. 5 years ago
    3. Reply

    The day I walked into Exclusive books during my lunch break, whilst working at The Barnyard Theatre long before I plucked up the courage to pursue my passion in photography, I noticed in the corner of my eye,a book, titled Gem Squash Tokoloshe by Rachel Zadok. I doubled back, picked up the book,in hope it was in fact the Rachel Zadok that I knew and adored,and low and behold it was. I can't tell you how excited and so very proud I was, in a way, for me, I was reconnecting with Rachel again,through her beautiful story(you must understand this was before the time of Facebook and Twitter, where finding old friends was not easy and definitely not done by merely pushing a button) I read the back page blurb, and just knew this was a story I wanted to read. It resonated with me, having had a mother who suffered for most of my childhood with severe depression, to the point of being hospitalised, and mostly leaving me to my own devices, my mom too passed away, most probably from a broken heart, she never spoke much or expressed how she felt.

    I loved Gem Squash Tokoloshe, because somehow it felt a bit like my story, and came into my life at the perfect time, I started re-evaluating my behaviour and how I perceived my life, especially with regards to my mom and my 'lost childhood', had a huge impact on me.

    Then came Rachel's second novel, Sister, Sister, Damn! I couldn't wait to get my hands on it, and waited very patiently for it to be released. It is, I have to say, one of my most favourite books of all time. I loved every single second I spent reading it. I climbed into to the story completely,from the first page, the narrative is poetic, the landscape is dark, but easily imagined, the characters complex, but easily recognised, and I felt a special connection to Sindi, her struggle to communicate and express herself, is something, I too, have battled with over the years.

    I am no wordsmith, so I struggle to convey what I feel, yes, even in the written form, so I have no fancy words or literary comments to offer you about Sister, Sister, but I can tell you this… I love reading, I love literature, I always have, and I LOVE Sister, Sister, It's beautifully written and simply sublime.

    Thank You, Rachel, for writing such a beautiful macabre story.

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