Books of the year

CityPress - - Trending Awards - – Charl Blig­naut

Non­fic­tion book of the year

It is easy to be in­tim­i­dated by He­len Zille’s Not With­out a Fight: The Au­to­bi­og­ra­phy. It is big and heavy enough to crack open Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng’s skull. But don’t be fright­ened. This book is what au­to­bi­ogra­phies and mem­oirs are sup­posed to be. It lays it all bare – from her fam­ily’s ori­gins to the young girl’s pubescent ad­ven­tures to her adult sex­ual ex­ploits to the hurly-burly of political life. Not With­out a Fight is not a po­lite book, which is why it has peeved a lot of peo­ple in the DA and the broader political scene. If Mark Ge­visser’s Thabo Mbeki: The Dream De­ferred was the gold stan­dard for bi­o­graph­ics, this does it for au­to­bi­ogra­phies.

The run­ners-up:

The Thabo Mbeki I Know, edited by Si­fiso Mx­olisi Ndlovu and Mi­randa Stry­dom

Make or Break: How The Next Three Years will Shape South Africa’s Next Three Decades by Richard Cal­land

Umkhonto we Sizwe: The ANC’s Armed Strug­gle by Thula Simp­son

– Mondli Makhanya

Fic­tion book of the year

South Africa’s favourite lit­er­ary un­cle, Zakes Mda, de­liv­ered a stun­ning read this year: Lit­tle Suns. It tells the mag­nif­i­cently re­searched yet mag­i­cal tale of Malan­gana, a des­per­ate lover on an epic jour­ney, and a cadre de­ter­mined to de­colonise the lives and land of the Mpon­domise peo­ple from their Bri­tish masters.

As I wrote in my re­view: “Mda in Lit­tle Suns is a trick­ster who, by writ­ing his­tory, writes about the con­se­quences of coloni­sa­tion ... With a glint in his eye, he pep­pers his tale with lessons from his­tory, and re­stores sto­ries that were erased. Into this real-life story of re­sis­tance, Mda weaves his love story as grandly as he did in Ways of Dy­ing and The Whale Caller.” The run­ner-up:

The Yearn­ing by Mo­hale Mashigo

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