The Miracle of Crocodile Flats

by Jenny Hobbs (Umuzi) ISBN 978-1-4152-0062-9

 

Subtitled An Affectionate Satire, Jenny Hobbs presents a miraculous South African story that shows Ubuntu in action.

 

Crocodile Flats is a dwindling rural community with an astonishingly diverse population, not only are various races represented but also most religious denominations.  Everyone is hanging on for survival and a government relocation scheme is impending. Then young Sweetness Moloi has a vision of Ma-Jesu, with a brown face and leaving the smell of peach blossoms and vanilla cupcakes in her wake.

 

After squabbling about the veracity of the vision, the seemingly opposing sides pull together to deal with the hordes of pilgrims and press that descend on the village. The miracle impacts the community as a whole and many individuals in it. There are too many stories to summarize but I loved how strong women like Tannie Charmaine and Sis’ Diliza, fed up with their anachronistic husbands, claim their rightful position.

 

Introducing the multitude of characters takes Hobbs over sixty pages and had me nearly putting the book aside. I suggest you skip the last chapter. It could be intended as the satirical icing on the cake but was too sugary for me and lessened the book’s punch.

 

In between that slow start and the last chapter Hobbs spins a wonderful story with tongue-in-cheek observations that had me chuckling with delight.

 

Josine Overdevest 

3.5/5

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Love Sex Fleas God

Confessions of a stay-at-home dad by Bruce Clark (Umuzi) ISBN: 9781415201701

 

The point of no return was reached with two simple words, ‘I’m late’.

 

When Bruce Clark (48) discovers his wife Christine (38) is pregnant, he is in his own words ‘Mr Stunned’. Still trying to come to terms with what it means to be a husband and trying to find his way in the career minefield, he didn’t anticipate that parenthood would turn his life upside down.

 

This is brutally honest memoir—often funny and bittersweet, sometimes too angry and self-indulgent—of what it means to be a stay-at-home parent to his son and daughter. It is, as Bruce points out, a simple job that is surprisingly difficult. It is the most important job in the world. Clark traces his life from his fractured relationship with his mother, his difficult youth and feelings of disenfranchisement in the new South Africa until he meets Christine — she is his soul mate, his anchor.

 

His story will strike a chord in all parents: we all have the chance to see our own innocence in our children, to find joy in them that we perhaps didn’t have or remember.

 

Faith Parker

3/5

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Evita’s Bossie Sikelela

by Evita Bezuidenhout (Umuzi) R170  ISBN: 978-1-4152-0156-5

 

A home-grown recipe book tried and tested by the darling of South Africa, Tannie Evita. I love this recipe book, not because I like to cook but it is wonderful to read Tannie Evita’s anecdotes, photographs and South African trivia.

 

The recipes span from Darling to safari at Hoedspruit. Every part of South Africa is represented in this book with short stories and mouth-watering yet easy to make recipes.

 

And, what would a cook book be without Tannie’s Tips. There are many practical tips that include remedies for cramps and how to make a face mask. I did try the recipe for Coronation chicken. It is simple to make and simply delicious. The ideal recipe for leftover chicken and for people who cannot cook.

 

Charlize Theron, a koeksister lover and Evita Bezuidenhout’s friend, writes the foreword to the book. Royalties from the sale of this book will be donated to the Darling Trust. Information about the trust is provided at the back of the book. Evita’s Bossie Sikelela is the perfect gift for food lovers or for people who love a cookbook with a story.

 

Ulrike Hill

5/5

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The Top Prisoner of C-Max

by Wessel Ebersohn (Umuzi) ISBN 978 1 4152 0179 4

 

Yudel Gordon, psychologist at Pretoria’s C-Max prison, home to some of this country’s most notorious criminals, doesn’t normally let his guard down.

 

However the arrival of Beloved Childe, an American researcher, not only causes Gordon to momentarily lose his grasp of the situation, but it gives Enslin Kruger, the prison’s top inmate, a chance to set up a challenge for his future successor. Kruger who is on his last legs, selects two men he feels are worthy to take his throne, and it’s a race against the clock to see which of them can reach Childe and slay her first.

 

Gordon, together with the help of Advocate Abigail Bukula, manages to figure out what Kruger is plotting and it’s a whirlwind of fast paced action to get to the marked woman first.

 

I was expecting more from the ending however and it found it to be a bit of a let-down. This book is the sequel to Ebersohn’s The October Killings but reads well as a stand-alone story. A thrilling ride that will keep you hooked. 

 

Ashleigh Seton-Rogers

3/5

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The Tempest Prognosticator

by Isobel Dixon (Umuzi) ISBN 978-1-4152-0161-9

 

I think that when selecting a book of poetry, it is almost impossible to gauge the real meaning of it just by standing at the shelf and browsing through it. Poetry is deep writing and sometimes the meaning escapes you on first reading it.

 

I started reading Isobel Dixon's poems and put the book aside. Then, on another occasion when I finally managed to lift the veil on her works, I became intrigued.  A lot of poetry is written in the subconscious mind so the reader has to read and re-read to find the meaning.  And then you have this wonderful moment of revelation and find that some of the poems are telling you how to see the world anew. 

 

The fact that the poet grew up in the Karroo makes you think she has a so called clean slate to write upon. No interference from the outside. And that gives her clarity of vision that we sometimes have to search for. The ostriches in the lucerne field have me carrying a photograph in my mind of those blowsy ballerinas pecking away to the music of Swan Lake.

 

Each poem carries a questing intelligence that makes you think, until at last you understand the meaning. Of course a quote from JM Coetzee endorses the fact that she must be a very worthwhile poet. I love poetry and enjoyed her anthology.

 

Dee Andrew

4/5

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Things I Thought I Knew

by Kathryn White (Umuzi) R180, 00 ISBN 978-0-4152-0122-0

 

Kathryn White lives in Johannesburg. She is the author of Emily Green and Me.

 

Her second novel is the story of two sisters: Lily looks white; Jules looks black. The time frame: From Apartheid South Africa through to Democracy. Before they drugged her, Lily knew things from the future and saw people from the past.

 

The novel examines, in beautiful and unique prose, the problems an interracial couple faced during the Apartheid era. The intriguing angle taken by the author makes this a refreshing look at a topic that has been covered by hundreds of authors.

 

The story accelerates to a crescendo. Reaching it, however, is not that satisfying. Luckily the journey is well worth it.

 

The author explores the cultural and ethical issues. Her vivid descriptions of Lily’s mental issues / psychic abilities, the love triangles, the sibling rivalry because of racial treatment, the exile and the emotional connections are compelling.

 

An interesting read.

 

Amanda Blankfield

3/5

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Nineveh

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

3/5

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