Rapid Fire, by John Maytham (Tafelberg)
Can a vegan eat a fig? Well of course. Except it turns out figs are tricky. Smyrna figs are pollinated in such a way that a female wasp dies inside the fruit. You won’t actually bite into the wasp – her body will be dissolved by acid – but technically the fruit will contain a speck of animal matter and that might put a very strict vegan off.
This is the sort of clever question – and answer – found in the book by John Maytham, who presents the afternoon drive show on Cape Talk radio. Because Maytham is a real know-it-all, he gets people to ring in on air with good questions to see if he and his team can answer them. Prizes are given for interesting rather than just difficult questions.
This is a fun quiz book covering topics from flags to food, from sport to spies. Here’s another question: which American president was the inspiration for a popular toy? Yes – you know this one, really.
The Blessed Girl, by Angela Makholwa (Macmillan)
Bontle Tau is gorgeous, and she knows it. If she had a choice between coming back as Albert Einstein or as Marilyn Monroe, she’d choose Marilyn Monroe every time. Marilyn Monroe was the original blessee, and you can quote Bontle on that.
Bontle likes the fine things in life – the designer shoes, the champagne, the penthouse, the expensive car, the beauty treatments. But all this costs, and she needs to keep her chaps on side, like Papa Jeff, who’s getting just a teeny bit fat; like Teddy, who seems to have messed up a tender business; like Mr Emmanuel, the lovely rich Nigerian; oh, and then there’s Bontle’s soon-to-be ex-husband.
It’s not easy, or as Bontle puts it, keeping all her boyfriends happy and living a fabulous life has its challenges.
This is Angela Makholwa’s fourth novel, following Red Ink, The 30th Candle and Black Widow Society. Makholwa is based in Joburg.