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Visit the active LitNet platform at www.litnet.co.za

Menings | Opinion > Lyste | Lists

Top 11 2011: Modjaji Books

Colleen Higgs - 2011-12-15

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Perfect for Christmas, choose one of these Modjaji Books




Tracey Farren's second novel, Snake, a pacy read, beautifully written, poignant, heart-stopping, frightening, and it deals with issues that we are all talking about right now – responsible journalism, masculinity, addiction, our violent society, children as innocent bystanders and victims. For anyone who likes a good story, told by a brilliant storyteller in a voice that will stay with you long after you have put the book down.

Yewande Omotoso's Bom Boy – a bold new voice on the block, tackling things head on and sideways – fitting in, standing out, finding love and meaning, what motivates people to do the things they do, adopting children across race – the implications, parenting, being Nigerian in South Africa, and many more issues, told and explored in an exquisitely written novel. Omotoso is going places; read Bom Boy and see what I mean.

Poetry makes a wonderful gift and here are a variety of different kinds of collections

Kerry Hammerton's These are the Lies I told you  – a lovely and unusual gift for a woman who likes her life and her body, a woman who knows how to say “yes” when she wants to and “no” and mean it! For a woman who likes sexy lingerie and all that goes with it, and for men who want to know more about what makes 21st-century women tick. According to Finuala Dowling Kerry is the Marian Keyes of poetry.

Margaret Clough’s At Least the Duck survived – a wry, humorous collection of poetry with a twinkle in its eye and a spring in its step. Poetry for the young at heart, and for those facing old age, but with attitude.

Dawn Garisch’s Difficult Gifts: Dawn is a doctor, poet, novelist, dramatist and dancer, and her debut book of poems is as multifaceted as its author. A lovely gift for anyone who is awake to the world around them and inside them. (Dawn won the first Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Prize awarded in October 2011.)

Beverly Rycroft, Missing – a wonderful book of poems. The whole book works as a story of dealing with breast cancer. The book is written with humour, dry and warm; the poet has an eye for detail and an enchanting ability to play with language. (Beverly received second prize in the 2011 Sol Plaatje EU awards for poetry.)

Phillippa Yaa de Villiers’s The Everyday Wife: This book has just won the 2011 SALA poetry prize. The poems tell the truth, they dance – sometimes barefoot; they like to be read out loud; they'll make you gasp and sigh, laugh out loud, and come back for more.

Woman Unfolding by Jenna Mervis, another debut collection full of life and promise, a voice that is thoughtful, serious, carefully observing and concerned with living lightly on the planet and with taking responsibility.

Sarah Frost, Conduit – a beautiful debut collection by this fine young Durban poet: spare language, haunting images. "These are poems of drowning and coming up again. Of surviving with lungs that breathe water and sunlight. These are poems of longing and loss. Of searching for a foothold in a world where all slides and changes," says Kobus Moolman on Conduit.


Karen Lazar’s Hemispheres – a book that inspires, by a woman who is courageous, fiercely intelligent and independent, about getting her life back after a stroke at the age of 39. Be moved, encouraged, and be prepared to go on an unexpected journey.

Short stories

The Bed Book of Short Stories, edited by Joanne Hichens and Lauri Kubuitsile, is another personal favourite: 31 stories, a range of voices, and takes on the idea of “bed” as a place of comfort, rest, sleep, sickness, erotic encounters, death, sadness, despair and many other things besides. The stories cover a wide range of genres and styles – from zombie, crime, thriller, romance and comedy to realist and even tragedy. The collection features some award-winning writers, some newer writers, writers from neighbouring countries and many South Africans, including some who have emigrated. Lauri Kubuitsile was short-listed for her story "In the Spirit of McPhineas Lata" for the 2011 Caine Prize, a high honour indeed.