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