by Henrietta Rose-Innes (Umuzi) ISBN 978-1-4152-0136-7 R150, 00


The central character, Katya Grubb, controls the overpopulation of insects in urban areas in Cape Town by removing them and reinstating them into their natural habitat.


She is asked to work at a luxury estate called Nineveh. While at the estate, Katya’s story unfolds. We discover her family issues and how this impacts on her job and relates to Mr Brand who has employed her.


The situations described lead us to ponder family life and the natural order. Katya ultimately questions her beliefs and philosophy – where she belongs in the world.


The author also makes reference to the ancient city of Nineveh, which succumbed to decay, and she suggests that Cape Town is heading the same way. The book is good literature with excellent descriptions. One feels the atmosphere and the reader is subtly drawn into its emotional impact. 


Be patient as it is a slow starter but you will like this book if you enjoy a human story with good descriptive writing.


Dawn Blankfield


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Paper Sons and Daughters

by Ufrieda Ho (Picador Africa) ISBN 978-1-77010-168-5


This book begins with the arrival of Chinese people with illegal papers, to South Africa. These immigrants were hoping for a better life. They were escaping the terrible hardships endured in China.


However, South Africa was not the Golden Mountain they had envisioned, as more trauma and hardship ensued. The practice of their culture held the Chinese immigrants together. This thought-provoking book looks at how Apartheid affected the Chinese.


Despite the difficulties, the author’s parents managed to raise their children, and helped them to be educated and disciplined adults.


Ufrieda Ho was always afraid that her father would not return home at night, and later her worst fear was realised.


The story shows the transition to the new South Africa, which brings its own challenges and heightens the frustrations of Chinese citizens who still  feel they do not belong. The story concludes with a nostalgic heartfelt letter to her father.


It is an insightful personal view of facts and feelings, written in an easy-to-read style.


Dawn Blankfield


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 by Ellen Banda-Aaku (Penguin Books) ISBN 978-0-14-352753-4


Patterns of thinking and emotional behaviour seem to persist through generations.


Pumpkin, a nine-year-old girl, is living in Lusaka. We are led through her torrid journey and the way she perceives it.


Her mother a seemingly respectable and fashionable woman is secretly a drunk. Her father seldom sees them. She witnesses situations beyond her years, with some graphic descriptions. All Pumpkin yearns for is for her parents to be united in marriage.


In later years she begins to understand women’s insecurities regarding the men in their lives. Women get the raw end of the deal, especially when they love the same man. Material needs may be met but emotional riches are often lacking.


Pumpkin supports her father in his political campaign, which reveals some insights of that time. The book gains momentum towards the end, reaching its pinnacle at the right time.


The reader may well ask, “Can we patch up our mistakes?” People’s beliefs and cultures are revealed through the pages of this book. It’s an easy read.


Dawn Blankfield




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