Arts + Culture

6 New South African Books to Add to Your Reading List

The most exciting books by South African writers from the first half of 2016.

Winter in South Africa is a great time to snuggle up and get your reading on. Last year, South African literature saw the rise of a new generation of writers releasing their debut novels, from singer Nakhane Touré’s Piggy Boy’s Blues to Panashe Chigumadzi’s Sweet Medicine.


2016 has been no disappointment. Young South Africans are putting pen to paper and telling their own stories. We’ve rounded up some of the most exciting new books by South African writers from the first half of 2016.

"The Yearning" – Mohale Mashigo

Photo: Sydelle Willow Smith

Published By: Pan Macmillan South Africa

Lauded as a “A bewitching addition to the current South African literary boom” by South Africa’s own beloved author, Zakes Mda, "The Yearning" is Mohale Mashigo’s debut novel. Mashigo, who moonlights as Cape Town singer-songwriter Black Porcelain and radio moderator Carol Mashigo, began working on the book in 2006. It tells the story of Marubini, a young woman living in Cape Town, who has a seemingly perfect life. But when her past comes back to haunt her, she must begin a journey of self-discovery and fill a yearning that’s both spiritual and cultural.

“The story of Marubini is really about how her parents loved her so much, they had to hold on to her so tight that they caused some cracks as well,” Mashigo told The Daily Vox. “When I was writing this book, I didn’t know that I had my own yearning. I questioned whether I was living my life the way I want to or living the way my parents want me to. Am I trying to please them or hiding from being a writer? Through this, I realised there were many things that brought me to this point.”

"The Girl Without A Sound" – Buhle Ngaba

The team behind "The Girl Without A Sound"

Published By: Self-published

"The Girl Without A Sound" is a book for black girls everywhere, as author Buhle Ngaba calls it. It tells the story of a “voiceless” young girl on a journey to find her voice.

“The Girl Without A Sound was born out of defiance and as a response to the fairytales we were told as little girls,” the book’s team writes in an email. “Stories about white princesses with blue eyes, flowing locks of hair and an overwhelming awareness of their beauty.”

“More than that, we want it to be a healing balm for all who read it.. For the black female bodies that are dismissed or violated in a white, patriarchal and racist reality...As an act of restoring power and agency to young black girls in South Africa.”

"The Girl Without A Sound" is available for free download as an ebook in English and Setswana. You can also pick up your hard copy here.

"Three Sisters" – Tshego Monaisa

Published By: Porcupine Press

In "Three Sisters," scriptwriter and novelist Tshego Monaisa tells the stories of Millicent, Lesego and Mpho, three women who exist in parallel universes but are all in abusive relationships.

Millicent is a 45 year old housewife living a lavish lifestyle thanks to her husband Paul. But when money troubles strike, Paul becomes increasingly violent towards Millicent. Lesego is a 23-year-old Johannesburg transplant whose life changes when her ex-boyfriend arrives in town. 32-year-old Mpho is murdered by her boyfriend Kgotso, and the question remains whether her mother will avenge her death or let it go.

“In writing this book, my appeal to women is that we open up, let the mask fall and speak about things that are negative and affecting us,” Monaisa told SABC. “If you are going through abuse then speak up, it could save your life.”

"Always Anastacia: A Transgender Life In South Africa" – Anastacia Tomson

Anastacia Tomson. Courtesy of Jonathan Ball Publishers.

Published By: Jonathan Ball Publishers

"Always Anastacia" is the memoir of a transgender woman born into a Jewish family in Johannesburg and raised by her parents as a boy. Anastacia Tomson, who graduated as a medical doctor from the University of Pretoria, tells the story of her transition from being a man to a woman and finally being able to be herself. “I don’t have to hide my disgust anymore at being called ‘boet’ or ‘sir’. I no longer have to tolerate any references to my deadname,” Tomson says in the book. This firsthand account of a South African transgendered life explores the complex topics of gender and sexuality in contemporary southern Africa.

"Writing What We Like: A New Generation Speaks" – edited by Yolisa Qunta

Yolisa Qunta, editor of "Writing What We Like: A New Generation Speaks"

Published By: Tafelberg

"Writing What We Like" is a collection of works by young and emerging South African thought leaders. The book offers a glimpse into a range of topics affecting South Africa, and boasts contributions from the likes of singer Simphiwe Dana, comedian David Kau and Sivuyile Ngesi. “In this country I feel oftentimes we don't engage each other” the book's editor, Yolisa Qunta, told SABC. “Maybe we can start having conversations on how to make South Africa better.”

"I’m A Different Mess Than I Was Yesterday" – Msizi E. Nkosi

Published By: Self-published

"I’m A Different Mess Than I Was Yesterday" is the true story of TV and radio producer Msizi E. Nkosi and his journey from humble beginnings in Kwa-Zulu Natal to dropping out of varsity and still making it in South Africa’s cut-throat entertainment industry.

popular
Image courtesy of Daily Paper.

Daily Paper Enlists Ghanaian Artist David Alabo For New Tarot Card Capsule Collection

The streetwear brand's new line of t-shirts feature striking, Afro-Surrealist designs by Ghanaian artist David Alabo.

Amsterdam-based, African-owned streetwear brand, Daily Paper has released a new limited edition capsule collection in collaboration with Ghanaian visual artist David Alabo.

The Tarot Card collection of high end t-shirts is part of the brand's Spring/Summer 2020 collection. Each t-shirt features a unique design by Alabo "highlighting an Afro-Surrealism tarot card providing insight and guidance through symbolism and spiritual wisdom," according to a press release from Daily Paper. The designs reflect Alabo's artistic vision of using elements of fantasy and mysticism to critique African society.

"Daily Paper is dedicated to promoting African culture by honoring the past and its influence on their vision of the future," said the artist. "They push the boundaries and challenge the perception of Africa in the fashion world which is what I aim to achieve in the art world too. It just makes sense that we work together and inspire each other."

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Image courtesy of the artist.

In 'Aba Women Riot' Nigerian Artist, Fred Martins, Reinterprets a Groundbreaking Moment In African History

In a new series of prints, the artist celebrates 'the women who lend their voices and stood strong against the oppression of Africans.'

March marks Women's History Month, and for African women, one event that epitomizes the will and tenacity within our community is the Aba Women's Riot, also known as The Women's War of 1929, in which thousands of predominantly Igbo women in eastern Nigeria mobilized to challenge British colonial rule and the barriers placed on women's civic life.

This paradigm-shifting moment in history is the center of the latest series from Nigerian visual artist Fred Martins, who began conceptualizing "Aba Women Riot" in 2019, while reflecting on the invaluable contributions women have made throughout history. "I reflected on the power of femininity and how it has affected history on every stage and era of human civilization," said the artist in a statement.

Keep reading... Show less
News Brief
Still from Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim's TED Talk

Watch Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim's  TED Talk on How Indigenous Knowledge Can Help Fight Climate Change

The Chadian activist—and one of OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020—says traditional knowledge, as practiced in her native Mbororo community, is one of the keys to combatting climate change.

In a new TED Talk, climate activist, geographer and one of OkayAfrica's 100 Women 2020, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, discusses the role that indigenous knowledge can play in combatting climate change.

During the 13-minute talk, Ibrahim emphasizes how the exploration and acceptance of various knowledge systems–including those that fall outside of the scope of typical scientific research–can add to our understanding of ways to protect the environment. "I think, if we put together all the knowledge systems that we have -- science, technology, traditional knowledge -- we can give the best of us to protect our peoples, to protect our planet, to restore the ecosystem that we are losing," says Ibrahim.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Photo by Gallo Images/Brenton Geach.

South Africans Condemn Police Brutality During National Lockdown

A number of videos have emerged on social media allegedly showing the intimidation and assault of several Black South Africans by law enforcement.

South Africa recently began a nationwide lockdown in an effort to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has been deployed across the nation to aid the police in ensuring that the rules of the lockdown are upheld. However, disturbing footage has emerged on social media allegedly depicting law enforcement agents assaulting Black South Africans.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.