Monthly Archives: October 2018

Police probe Bird Island book claims


TAFELBERG publishers says a “top‐level police investigation into allegations of a paedophile ring involving senior members of the National Party government”, is underway.

The allegations were made in the book The Lost Boys of Bird Island by former policeman Mark Minnie and journalist Chris Steyn.

In a press statement the publishers said several people with knowledge of the alleged paedophile ring had given “valuable information to the police”.

“A number of victims have come forward and have given written statements of alleged sexual abuse related to the allegations in the book.” Continue reading

Shane Warne: gifted cricketer, but a thug


No Spin – My Biography, by Shane Warne with Mark Nicholas (Penguin Random House)

shane warneThere is much to admire about Shane Warne, but not much to like.

Shane Warne was a wonderful bowler, a rebel, a bit of a rogue and a gifted cricketer. He is also a petulant bully, a sycophant and a dissembler of note.

Let’s examine his better qualities. He took 708 in Test cricket (ODIs and T20s don’t count for much), he could change the course of a match in a single spell of bowling and he was a star attraction. People came to watch him bowl and watching him bowl was one of the joys of cricket.

He was also a thug. The way he followed up his dismissal of South African opening batsman Andrew Hudson during a Test match at the Wanderers in 1994 crossed the boundary of sportsmanship. In this biography he apologises for the “rage in my eyes and the anger in my body language”. A bit late for that now, mate. Continue reading

Sad and beautiful story of a woman seeking the truth in a life of secrets

Review: Vivien Horler

The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart, by Holly Ringland (Pan Books/ Macmillan)

lost flowersVictorian Britons believed in the language of flowers, that messages could be conveyed in a bouquet by the careful selection of blossoms.

As far back as the 16rth century William Shakespeare was having a go, with the immortal line from Hamlet|: “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember.”

And judging by the number of hits you get if you google “language of flowers”, the idea finds resonance today, although you’d need to be a skilled reader of flowers to interpret a message.

Alice Hart’s early years are isolated, spent with her parents near the Australian coast, where her beloved mother cultivates a garden and often sports unexplained bruises. Continue reading

What Pieter Dirk Uys has to say about Pik, his father and fear

pik and evita


The Echo of a Noise – A memoir of then and now, by Pieter-Dirk Uys (Tafelberg)

Divergent voices have greeted the death of apartheid era foreign minister Pik Botha.

Some have described him as the best of a bad bunch, other have expressed their views considerably more forcefully. And just hours after Botha’s death Adriaan Vlok, former apartheid era law and order minister, described him on Cape Talk as “a visionary”. (Well he would, wouldn’t he?)

Pik Botha gives Evita Bezuidenhout a smacker.

Pieter Dirk Uys, the satirist and alter ego of Evita Bezuidenhout, has just published a new book of memoirs, and he could have had Botha in mind when he wrote about the end of the apartheid.

As World War II wound up, he writes, Adolf  Hitler committed suicide along with several of his general staff.

“When apartheid officially ended in 1994, not a single member of the apartheid government killed themselves. They rushed off to the local Oriental Plaza to get their latest Nelson Mandela ethnic shirts… Continue reading

Northern Irish writer wins 2018 Man Booker prize

Writer Anna Burns has become the first person from Northern Ireland to win the Man Booker Prize.

She won for her third novel, Milkman, which is set in an unnamed Northern Irish city during the troubles. It is a coming-of-age tale of a girl’s affair with a powerful married man.

The announcement was made at a function at London’s Guildlhall last night.

The chair of the 2018 judging panel, Kwame Anthony Appiah, said of Milkman: “None of us has ever read anything like this before.

“Anna Burns’s utterly distinctive voice challenges conventional thinking and form in surprising and immersive prose.

“It is a story of brutality, sexual encroachment and resistance threaded with mordant humour.

“Set in a society divided against itself, Milkman explores the insidious forms oppression can take in everyday life.”

Burns, 56, was born in Belfast but lives in East Sussex in England. Her first novel, No Bones, was also set during the Troubles.

Burns beat two other British writers, two American writers and a Canadian writer to win the award which recognises quality literary fiction written in English. Four of those shortlisted were women. Burns wins  £50 000 (about R930 000).

British writer Daisy Johnston, at 27 the youngest author ever shortlisted for the prize, was widely tipped to win for her novel Everything Under.

The others on the shortlist were Canadian Esi Edugyan for Washington Black, American Rachel Kushner for The Mars Room, American Richard Powers for The Overstory, and Briton Robin Robertson The Long Take.

Appiah said the shortlisted books were a “miracle of stylistic invention” and that “language takes centre stage”. – VIVIEN HORLER


Teen’s desperate flight through the bush is gritty, brilliant reading

Review: Vivien Horler

The Shepherd’s Hut, by Tim Winton (Hamish Hamilton/ Penguin)

shepherd's hutJaxie Clackton is 15 and a survivor of his father’s inexorable fists.

He lives in a small town in Western Australia where his father is the butcher. His mother is recently dead, but didn’t do much to protect Jaxie when she was alive.

Jaxie is a difficult teen who has had trouble at school and more at home. The day his old life ended sees Jaxie hiding out under the grandstand at the footy oval, waiting for his father to be drunk enough for him to go home safely. He’d come to in the bone crate after yet another beating.

“Bitches all afternoon about what a lazy bludger I am and then makes sure he can’t get any work out of me when there’s most to be doing. No wonder he’s such a success in business,” thinks Jaxie. Continue reading

The story of the trial of Angy Peter for murder is bleak but important

Review: Vivien Horler

The Last Words of Rowan du Preez – Murder and conspiracy on the Cape Flats, by Simone Haysom (Jonathan Ball Publishers)

last words of rowan du preezRowan du Preez, a petty criminal aged 22, was necklaced on October 13, 2012 in bush on the outskirts of Mfuleni. A passerby heard him screaming, saw the fire, and called the police.

The police found Du Preez badly burnt and still screaming, the remains of a tyre smouldering nearby. They asked him who he was, and he told them, adding he had been attacked by Angy Peter and her husband Isaac Mbadu.

Du Preez died shortly afterwards in hospital.

The matter received extensive media coverage for several reasons, probably Continue reading