Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - BOOKS - JOHN MEAGHER

The sec­ond novel from the South African writer takes place over the course of a sin­gle day — De­cem­ber 6, 2013 — in the city of its ti­tle. It tells the story of the in­ner strug­gles of a num­ber of char­ac­ters as they mea­sure out their lives in a place that is char­ac­terised by in­jus­tice and pain, and they go through some sig­nif­i­cant soul-search­ing fol­low­ing the death, the pre­vi­ous day, of Nel­son Man­dela.

The story hinges on 40-year-old Gin, a Jo­han­nes­burg na­tive who’s now re­sid­ing in New York, and her re­la­tion­ship with her age­ing mother. De­spite her suc­cesses, Gin still feels as though she has some­thing to prove. Mel­rose’s book has earned com­par­i­son to Vir­ginia Woolf’s Mrs Dal­loway. The movie Catch Me If You Can played on the idea of the charm­ing con­man. And con­men don’t come more charm­ing than Car­los Hen­rique Ra­poso, aka Kaiser. Subti­tled The Great­est Foot­baller Never to Play Foot­ball, this in­trigu­ing mem­oir looks at how a kid from the Rio slums man­aged to in­vei­gle his way into some of Brazil’s big­gest foot­ball clubs and stay there, de­spite hav­ing no foot­balling abil­ity.

In a weirder-than-fic­tion ca­reer, he man­aged to not play a sin­gle minute of foot­ball and some­how get trans­ferred from one club to the next. He talked such a good game about him­self that ev­ery­one — from club chair­men, to fel­low play­ers and to the me­dia — were hood­winked for al­most 20 years. Ban­tum, 480 pages, €12

In­spired by Jules Verne’s clas­sic ad­ven­ture novel, Scot­tish en­durance ath­lete Mark Beau­mont was de­ter­mined to break the world record for cir­cum­nav­i­gat­ing the globe by bi­cy­cle. He man­aged the feat within 80 days and cov­ered some 18,000 miles — cy­cling through some of the harsh­est con­di­tions that one man and his bike can en­dure.

This mem­oir-cum-trav­el­ogue tells the story of his ex­tra­or­di­nary achieve­ment. It of­fers an in­sight into the mind of an elite ath­lete and the phys­i­cal lim­its of the hu­man body: Beau­mont av­er­aged 200 miles per day and cy­cled in every con­ceiv­able weather. And it pro­vides a whis­tle-stop tour of the world — and its peo­ple — from a unique per­spec­tive.

FIC­TION Jo­han­nes­burg Fiona Mel­rose Cor­sair, 272 pages, €10

SPORT Kaiser Rob Smyth Yel­low Jersey, 336 pages, €12

NON-FIC­TION Around the World in 80 Days Mark Beau­mont

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