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Starting university is a new stage of life and navigating it can be difficult. Luckily there are many sources out there that can help you through the changes you will face. Perdeby took a look at some novels that every first-year should read, whether it’s to hold a conversation with your new friends or just to better understand the new opinions and terms you will come across in your years at university.
Michelle Nkamankeng has been named Africa’s youngest author. The seven-year old has made a name for herself in the literary world since the release of her book, Waiting for the Waves. Along with her books, Michelle also conducts seminars and acts as a motivational speaker for youths and adults. Perdeby spoke to Michelle and her mother, Laurentine, about Michelle’s success, her inspiration and ambitions.
Many of the novels written by South African authors deal with the effects of apartheid and the country’s rocky history. Imraan Coovadia takes a new approach in telling the story of South Africa from the introduction of the metric system in 1970 to the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
The novel is divided into ten chapters, each set in a different time and describing a few hours in the life of ordinary South Africans during pivotal points in our history. The episodes cover a wide variety of experiences and show the diversity that South Africa holds. The first chapter, 1970, coincides with the introduction of the metric system in South African schools. It follows Ann Rabie as she deals with her teenage son, Paul, and her liberal, politically active husband Niel Hunter. Ann features at various points across the four decades in which the story takes place. In 1973 a man becomes a criminal when he loses his pass book, while an Indian rocker struggles with depression when the colour of his skin stands in the way of his musical career in 1979. Ann possibly witnesses treason at the Soviet Embassy in London in 1985 involving Oliver Tambo and the Soviet Union. In 1990 a thief and possible informer is punished by locals in Tembisa, and friends reflect on how far the country has come at the 1995 Rugby World Cup. 1999 describes the aftermath of the information revealed at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the effects of former president Thabo Mbeki’s denial of the existence of HIV and AIDS features in 2003. In 2010 a young woman’s phone is stolen when she buys a Vuvuzela for the opening match between South Africa and Mexico at the Soccer World Cup. Finally, the novel ends with a look back to 1976 with the introduction of television in South Africa.
South Africa has a thriving fiction market, with authors writing original stories that often include hard-hitting looks at society in South Africa. Perdeby took a look at some of the authors to look out for next time you wander into your local bookstore.
J. M. Coetzee is arguably one of South Africa’s most important authors. The reclusive writer has multiple awards and award nominations to his name, including two Booker Prizes and the Nobel Prize for Literature. He writes thought-provoking novels, the latest investigating the experience of growing up in a foreign place. The School Days of Jesus, sequel to The Childhood of Jesus, is set to be released in September.
Romance novels can be predictable and, as a result, uninteresting. The Seeing Place by South African author Aziza Eden Walker is an exception to the rule, providing more than the average romance, in terms of storyline.
The story follows rich entrepreneur and socialite Thuli Poni as she flies to Cape Town from her comfortable life in Johannesburg to start working on her newest project. In the middle of the bustling Long Street Festival, she meets Andile Sebe, a struggling actor from the heart of Gugulethu. It seems the stars are aligned for the perfect romance, but unfortunately they are from two very different worlds. Their chance meeting in a coffee shop out of the raucous crowds at the festival seems to be a brief, one-time meeting of the unlikely two.