PDBY has put together a collection of exciting new South African novels to add to your reading list this winter. We’ve also included a few titles coming later this year so that you can keep your bookshelf stocked and your local novel itch scratched.
Go Away Birds – Michelle Edwards
May 2021 – Modjaji Books
This novel follows protagonist Skye as she searches for the ‘normal’. Grieving and struggling with
PTSD, Skye “feels increasingly dislocated” as she tries to ground herself in her world. In an interview with WriteOnline, Edwards describes Skye as “this quiet woman who was deeply confident in who she was and capable in so many ways except in understanding her own feelings”. On her approach to writing, Edwards tries to “create tension and suspense slowly, ratcheting the pressure up almost imperceptibly until the
characters reach breaking point”. Go Away Birds was released in May and can be ordered online.
Female Fear Factory – Pumla Dineo Gqola
June 2021 – Cassava Republic Press
This novel by feminist author and Research Professor at the Centre for Women and Gender Studies at the Nelson Mandela University, Pumla Dineo Gqola, is described by bookdepository.com as “a sobering account of patriarchal violence in the world”. It explores the diverse and far reaching “sites of female fear” around the world, and how they fit into the machinery of the patriarchy as a “tool of patriarchal subjugation and punishment”. Prof. Gqola looks at sexual harassment, sexist laws and femicide to draw together the global ties of female fear in this newly released novel, available for order online.
WILL, the Passenger Delaying Flight…– Barbara Adair
May 2020 – Modjaji Books
On her website, a review by Robyn Sassen describes Adair’s new novel as “unequivocally and omnisciently about the flawed stuff that makes us all human, the doubts and secrets and odd little embarrassing ideas that creep into our sensibilities, when we least suspect”. The story takes place at an international airport as a German traveller leaves his country to go to Namibia. The airport offers the protagonist the space to people watch and Adair’s experimental writing gives the stage to a plethora of strangers travelling through the airport. From murderers and paedophiles to porn stars, professors, and thieves, Sassen notes that this “criss-crossing of humanity” is “something extraordinary” and “completely unmissable”. The novel is available for order online and in bookstores.
Ougat: From A Hoe Into A Housewife And Then Some –Shana Fife
July 2021 – Jonathan Ball Publishers
Set in the Cape Flats, Ougat is a memoir of social pressures, escaping abuse and surviving amidst trauma and struggle. The protagonist, Shana, is a Coloured woman who is viewed as, as the blurb describes, a “jintoe, a jezebel, jas” by her family and community, and struggles to escape the pressures of the social
conditioning she was raised with. The novel’s publisher describes Fife as a “powerful, fresh and
disarming new voice” and the author’s memoir as “unsettlingly honest and brutally blunt”. Fife’s
debut novel can be pre-ordered online until the end of June and will be available for sale in July.
An Unusual Grief – Yewande Omotoso
October 2021 – Cassava Republic Press
Omotoso’s new novel follows the mourning of a mother, Mojisola, after the death of her daughter Yinka.
The protagonist moves into her previously estranged daughter’s life to learn about Yinka and the life she had built, which leads her on a journey of self-discovery and what Foyles describes as “a bold and unflinching tale of one woman’s unconventional approach to life and loss”. Omotoso’s career took off with her debut novel Bom Boy, and October’s release will be the South Africa-based author’s third novel.
Image: Kayla Thomas