Category Archives: Book News

Spirit of Jewish life for literary festival

Author Rahla Xenopoulos who will speak about her book The Season of Glass at the Jewish Literary Festival on Sunday

Author Rahla Xenopoulos who will speak about her book The Season of Glass at the Jewish Literary Festival on Sunday.

No sooner is the Franschhoek Literary Festival over than news of upcoming Cape Town festivals emerges.

The first is the Jewish Literary Festival, which has a programme of more than 60 events over a single day on Sunday (June 17).

Then later this year comes the Open Book Festival which runs from September 5 to 9.

The Jewish Literary Festival is in its third year, Continue reading

Help choose the Man Booker Prize’s top novel from half a century of excellence

The Booker Foundation has launched a search for the best of the best to mark the English literary prize’s 50th year this year.

Sadly South African novelist JM Coetzee, the first writer to win the Man Booker prize twice – in 1983 for Life & Times of Michael K, and in 1999 for Disgrace – didn’t make the shortlist of five books nominated for the once-off Golden Man Booker Prize.

But Hilary Mantel, who won it in 2009 for Wolf Hall and in 2012 for Bring Up the Bodies, the sequel to her Henry VIII/ Thomas Cromwell saga, has been nominated for Wolf Hall.

The idea of the Golden Man Booker Prize was to select the best book for each decade of the prize’s existence, and each judge was allocated one decade of winners to choose from. In a tribute to the power of the prize, all 51 winners are still in print.

The five books to make the shortlist are: In a Free State by VS Naipul (1971); Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively (1987); The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (1992); Wolf  Hall by Hilary Mantel 2009; and Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (2017).

Coetzee – and Australian writer Peter Carey who has also won the Booker twice – needn’t feel too badly about not making the shortlist. Novels their works were in competition with included Nadine Gordimer’s The Conservationist (1974); The Sea, The Sea by Iris Murdoch (1978); Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (1981);  The God of Small things by Arundhati Roy (1997); Life of Pi by Yann Martel (2002); and The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan (2014).

The five judges were writer and editor Robert McCrum (1970s); poet Lemn Sissay MBE (1980s); novelist Kamila Shamsie (1990s); broadcaster and novelist Simon Mayo (2000s); and poet Hollie McNish (2010s).

The shortlist was announced at the Hay Festival in the UK on May 26. From now until June 25 readers are asked to reread these top five novels, and then submit their vote for the overall winner of five decades of the prize, which will be announced at the Man Booker 50 Festival at London’s South Bank Centre on July 8.

To participate, send your vote to the Man Booker Prize website ( The website features videos of each judge discussing their choice. – Vivien Horler


Man Booker International Prize shortlist


Works by writers from South Korea, Poland, Hungary, France, Spain and Iraq have been shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker International Prize.

Since 2016 this prize has been presented annually for a single work of fiction – either a novel or a collection of short stories – translated into English and published in the United Kingdom. It is not to be confused with the Man Booker prize, which is for fiction written in English and published in the UK. Continue reading

Man Booker International: Some great novels – but none from Africa

man booker int 2018Article: Vivien Horler

Africa did not make the cut on the longlist of the Man Booker International Prize this year.

The Man Booker Prize is awarded for the best fiction written in English; the Man Booker International Prize celebrates the best novels – or collections of short stories – from around the world that have been translated into English and published in the UK. Continue reading

The Book Lounge turns 10


book lounge

While book stores around the world have struggled against tightening economies and the onslaught of digital books, a Cape Town phenomenon celebrates its 10 birthday today.

The Book Lounge, at the corner of Roeland and Buitenkant streets in the east city, was opened by Mervyn Sloman 10 years ago today.

He had been working at Exclusive Books for some years, but believed chain bookstores and independent bookstores could happily co-exist.

“They serve different functions. I felt there was room for my sort of independent bookstore at the time, so I opened my own space,” he said in a telephone interview earlier today (December 1, 2017).

He confesses to being a little surprised the Book Lounge is still here, but adds: “It’s a tough world, no question about it, but we believe in what we do and we’ve worked hard at it.

“Every now and then I meet people who want to open a shop, and I say that it is possible, but you have to live it and be very passionate about it. That’s one part of how you survive.

“Also, from early on we received lots of support from people who saw value in what we were doing – not only in selling books but having conversations about books and setting up conversations between writers and readers. We’ve tried to set up a place where people feel comfortable.”

The store holds launches and gatherings three to four times a week, and Sloman says they also say no to a lot of things. Continue reading

History at the heart of the Man Booker prize winner

george saunders

Acclaimed American short story writer George Saunders has become the second American to win the Man Booker Prize for his first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo.

The £50 000 (about R850 000) prize was presented to him at a ceremony in London’s Guildhall by the Duchess of Cornwall last night (October 17).

The judges described the book as “utterly original” and “deeply moving”. Continue reading

Nobel winner a fan of the BBC

Like millions of people the world over, the winner of the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature, Kazuo Ishiguro, trusts the BBC.

He was at home in Golders Green in London on Thursday (October 5), about to sit down to brunch, when his agent rang to tell him the good news.

“I thought it was a hoax in this time of fake news and everything,” he said on a Guardian video posted on YouTube.

“So I asked them to check up because I hadn’t heard at all – I thought the normal procedure was that the winner is told first. So I didn’t believe it for a long time.

“Then my publisher phoned. And finally when the BBC phoned, I thought it might be true.”

Ishiguro is probably most famous for his novel The Remains of the Day, for which he won the Booker Prize in 1989, and which was adapted into a movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson in 1993. Continue reading

Cape Town mayor’s take on her job

mayor patricia de lilleCape Town mayor Patricia de Lille is launching her book, View from City Hall, this week.

Spokeswoman Zara Nicholson says the book, co-written by Craig Kesson, is her take on her work in the city over the past six years; what it takes to build a leading city government; which major changes have been introduced and why; how she and her mayoral committee have aligned strategy with implementation; and some of the challenges they have faced.

The book is being launched at the Civic Centre tomorrow, September 19.

2017 Man Booker shortlist announced

man booker coversThe Man Booker Prize judges have announced the 2017 shortlist of six titles.

They are:

4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster (US) (Faber & Faber)
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (US) (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Pakistan) (Hamish Hamilton)
Elmet by Fiona Mozley (UK) (JM Originals)
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (US) (Bloomsbury)
Autumn by Ali Smith (UK) (Hamish Hamilton)

The judges said the novels, each in its own way, challenged and subtly shifted the reader’s preconceptions about the nature of love, about the experience of time, about questions of identity and even death. Continue reading

Glynnis Breytenbach book launch

rule of law breytenbachFormidable former public prosecutor Glynnis Breytenbach, launches her book Rule of Law – a memoir on Tuesday September 12, 2017.

The book, co-written with Nechama Brodie, looks back over her legal career of 26 years, and discusses why the rule of law is critical to the future of South Africa. She also has some pithy things to say about how some of the people she worked with in the NPA.

Breytenbach, now the DA’s shadow minister for justice, is quoted on the cover: “Oeloff de Meyer once said that I would prosecute my own mother. He meant it as an insult, of course. I took it as a compliment.”

Where: Exclusive Books, V&A Waterfront

When: Tuesday September 12, 6pm for 6.30pm.