Book Review - Born A Crime

by Trevor Noah (Macmillan) ISBN: 139781770105065


Comedians are storytellers and some are better at it than others. 

Trevor Noah is a consummate teller of tales whose thoughtful comedy routines are carefully plotted and set up before he delivers the punch line. He seldom resorts to slapstick, hysteria, or profanity. He is seldom distracted. This ability to tell a linear story is perfect for translating material from his life and his routines into his memoir.

He writes beautifully. The simplicity of his technique allows the complexity of his narrative to shine through. Born A Crime is the story of Patricia Noah and her son, Trevor. It is about looking for a place to call home, and of wanting to belong. As much as Trevor Noah was defined by being born a crime in South Africa, he is even more defined by his mother and her journey, which became their journey. 

His story will resonate with any thinking South African. He manages to put so much of who we are into this book - a fractured people divided by colour, by tribe, and by language. The apartheid system separated everybody, black from white from Indian from coloured, and then divided us further by language. But we are also united because we witnessed it. 

Born A Crime is Noah’s testimony. It is brave and funny. Read it. Buy it for somebody you love. You won’t regret it.

Amanda Patterson
www.writerswrite.co.za 
5/5

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Book Review - Nutshell

by Ian McEwan (Jonathan Cape) ISBN 9781911214335 


As a big fan of Ian McEwan, well-known author of Atonement (film won Golden Globe), Amsterdam (Booker Prize), and The Children Act  to name a few, I was looking forward to his newest book. And yes, he did it. He managed to enthral me again. Nutshell is original and nothing is predictable. This short, wonderfully different book is skilfully crafted, with believable characters. 

A very convincing unborn child tells the Hamlet story of his mother Trudy and the brother of her husband John, her lover Claude. They are plotting the murder of John, Trudy’s husband and father of the foetus. The unborn son is trying to prevent this, but feels restricted (“Oh God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space –were it not that I have bad dreams.”) Trudy is of course a reference to Gertrude and Claude to Claudius. 

The neonatal narrator is intelligent and gets a lot of information from the radio podcasts his mother listens to and loves the Sancerre wine his mother drinks. 

Brilliant and funny. Thought provoking. Full of word play. Highly recommended. 

Pauline Vijverberg
www.writerswrite.co.za 
5/5

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Book Review - The Ice Lands

by Steinar Bragi (Macmillan) ISBN: 9781447298816
 

Set in Reykjavik, The Ice Lands tells the story of four friends. Egill, Hrafn, Anna and Vigdis who decide to go on a camping trip to regroup and recover from a very difficult year. 

As they leave behind the city and move further into the countryside they are forced to reflect on themselves, their relationships, and decisions they have made. Driving in a dense fog they crash and break down nowhere near to their intended destination. They stumble upon an isolated house, the only inhabitants being an elderly couple. 

Trapped in this dwelling until the weather clears, the four are forced to confront tensions amongst themselves. More unsettling is the strange behaviour of the old couple, who barricade themselves in every night. Something has been butchering animals near the house, and as the days stretch out they begin to uncover some unsettling facts. Are they trapped here, and will they ever get back home? 

Intense, fast-paced, and unsettling, The Ice Lands builds suspense and delivers surprises. It’s a stomach-turning read. 

Merissa Himraj
www.writerswrite.co.za
4/5

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Book Review - Feminist Fight Club

by Jessica Bennett (Penguin) ISBN: 978-0062439789


I love a book written by a journalist. You will always get exactly what you are promised with a healthy dose of real-world. This book is exactly what Bennett means it to be; an office survival manual for a sexist workplace. 

FFC is packed with useful information, helpful and practical socio-politico-eco tips and interesting factoids about world history, which as you’d expect from a book with this proud title, is littered with the blood, bones, sweat and tears of women. I personally veered between being grateful that I have experienced very little of the sexist tactics outlined, and digging for a pen and paper to make notes in an attempt to commit some of Bennett’s ‘fight moves’ to memory for use next time a guy in my office ‘manterrupts’ me. 

This book is everything you need, whether you are a man or a woman. It’s useful, witty, interesting, page-turning and worth every word. One criticism, The Black Sash should be listed among the Rebel Girls: FFCs through history section at the back. 

Justine Cullinan
www.writerswrite.co.za 
5/5

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Book Review - Tall Oaks

by Chris Whitaker (Twenty7) ISBN: 978-1-78577-030-2


Tall Oaks is a small American town where three-year-old Harry mysteriously disappears. His mother, Jess, is mad with worry, desperately reaching out to Harry’s absent father for support. 

In Tall Oaks, everyone knows everyone but not everyone’s business is what it seems. Obese, slow photographer, Jerry lives with his controlling mother; teenager Manny is a hilarious wannabe-gangsta with Daddy issues; Jim, the Police Chief has inappropriate fixations; new-in-town Jared is not who he appears to be…The lives of these and other characters entwine and collide spectacularly in the hunt for Harry. 

Tall Oaks is British writer Chris Whitaker’s debut novel. Its appeal lies in the plethora of colourful characters (I particularly loved Manny, poignant, yet comic relief), the racy pacing and the plot. The disappearance of the toddler is almost secondary to the individual stories of the characters themselves and the dynamics of their relationships. There are red herrings a-plenty and gasp-worthy revelations throughout. The conclusion is a real kicker. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book; I read it in one sitting. 

Deborah Minors
www.writerswrite.co.za 
3.5/5 

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Book Review - The Fireman

by Joe Hill (Gollancz) ISBN: 9780575130722 


A new disease is destroying mankind - an incurable spore that kills by causing spontaneous combustion in the host. There is no cure for Dragonspore, and once you have the mark, it’s only a matter of time before the Cremation Squad hunts you down. 

Ever positive and unflappable, Harper Grayson is three months pregnant when she becomes marked to burn. With some doctors stating that she could deliver a completely healthy baby, Harper becomes driven to protect her as yet unborn child. Hearing stories of a mysterious figure called The Fireman, Harper sets out to track him down, so that he can help her bring her baby to term. 

Along her journey she befriends a group of people like her, scrappy survivors who refuse to be rounded up and killed, who take on the forces hunting them in often violent clashes. 

The Fireman is an adventure story like no other, a keen observation of prejudice, government control, and the sheer determination of the human spirit. I loved this brilliant heart-warming read.

Merissa Himraj
www.writerswrite.co.za
4.5/5

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Book Review - Adam's Navel

by Michael Sims (Penguin) ISBN: 9780141003610
 

Adam's Navel is a fascinating book that looks at the human body as it is portrayed in literature, mythology, commonly used phrases, biology, history and psychology. 

The author's interest in the human body is that there are both commonalities and adaptations across generations, diverse cultures and ancient species. The privilege of our "luxurious physicality" where we can experience life through the senses and fully immerse ourselves in the moment, is something we take for granted. 

In this examination of the "many separate yet interdependent parts of the body", Sims looks at the parts of the body that are visible, not the inner workings. It is like a travel diary of the human body. 

I found this book to be unique and interesting. I learned new facts, fables and mythologies. It is certainly a new way to look at the body. 

Amanda Blankfield-Koseff
www.writerswrite.co.za
3.5/5

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Book Review - The Face On The Cutting-Room Floor

Who Is Cameron McCabe? by Cameron McCabe (Picador Classic) ISBN 9781509829811


1933. London. Cameron McCabe is editing a film involving a love triangle. The director has instructed him to edit out an aspiring actress, Estella Lamare. She becomes the face on the cutting room floor. Then Estella is found dead in the very film studio, exactly where her image was lying in pieces of celluloid on the floor. 

Is McCabe a suspect, victim, joker or storyteller? Who is Cameron McCabe? This is an unusual detective mystery. There is emphasis on its literary value, and the social and philosophical nature of the time. The novel was first published in 1937 but the true identity of the author was a mystery until 1974.

The epilogue invites you to go back and analyse the novel. It is as though you have eaten the main course and now face a large and varied dessert. 

Dawn Blankfield
www.writerswrite.co.za
2.5/5

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Book Review - The Steel Kiss

by Jeffery Deaver (Hodder & Stoughton) ISBN: 9781473618480 


Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs are old friends of mine. I have been reading their stories for a number of years. This one begins with a gory death, while Sachs is chasing down Unsub 40. But is it an accident? Never. 

In his cunning style, Jeffrey Deaver manages to convince us that this time it's different. Off to a slow start, this feels almost too layered, detailed and complex, yet you just know that you are being set up for a game where the stakes are epic, the action non-stop, and the tension gut-wrenching. 

All 480 pages are jam-packed with snide, witty remarks, smart-ass comments and observations, and great detection work. The plot is cleverly constructed, and changes direction in a sudden intake of breath. The support team of detectives and a student of Rhyme's are believable, and add colour and depth to the investigation. A modern day thriller that is very satisfying. 

I was entertained in every way and relished the adventure. 

Bev Bouwer
www.writerswrite.co.za 
5/5

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Book Review - The Bedside Ark

by David Muirhead (Penguin) ISBN: 9781775844617 


This is a wildlife book unlike any other. The author, David Muirhead, a long-time English writer and journalist, explores 42 of Southern Africa’s creatures. He details their habits and lifestyles, and manages to over-exaggerate their traits and reputations in a hilarious way. The writing is wonderfully executed. 

While relying on a bit of poetic justice, this charming book seeks to educate and entertain. The illustrations are also a sight to behold and have been lovingly rendered by Cape Town based artist, Patricia de Villiers. The Bedside Ark is a must read for nature lovers. 

Ashleigh Seton-Rogers
www.writerswrite.co.za 
4/5

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.