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New from Penguin

Risk, The Trouble With Africa , On Beauty , Whiteman, The Girls

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Risk begins on a train in the Karoo. It is 1999, and Hannah, a New York-born film researcher, is on her way to Johannesburg and crossing the terrain of her ex-lover Gem's childhood. Next to her is an envelope and in it is the story of what happened to Gem when he was detained during South Africa’s state of emergency.
      Through a driven and unconventional narrative made up of Hannah's missives to Gem, sections of Gem's autobiographical play, and entries in Gem's old journals, Risk tells the story of Hannah and Gem's fateful first meeting in New York, flashes back to Gem's love affair with a young man in Umkhonto we Sizwe, and reaches resolution in Gem's boyhood village with a splash of magical realism.
     A detective story as well as a love story, a war story as well as a coming of age story, Risk is about the ways that the large movements of history affect the smaller movements of people's day-to-day lives, the ways that personal identity is shaped by political conflict, and the ways we are changed when we cross geographical and emotional boundaries.

Click here to find out more about Risk.


Linda Mannheim
ISBN: 0143025236
Penguin South Africa

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German-born artist Vic Guhrs came to Africa at the age of 22 to fulfil his boyhood dream of a life in wild places among wild animals. He lived for 25 years in an isolated bush camp in the Luangwa Valley in Zambia and knows that, despite its paradoxes and its mysteries, he can never leave Africa. The trouble with Africa, he says, is that, like malaria, once it is in your blood it is almost impossible to get rid of. And the trouble with Africa is also the trouble with those of us who settle here: as long as we insist on judging it from a Western perspective, we will be the outsiders – we will be forever baffled by it. The complexities of African attitudes that seem to confound us are perhaps not so complex after all – it is their very simplicity that we fail to understand. On the road to our civilised enlightenment, have we lost the ability to see life in its most fundamental essence?

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The Trouble With Africa

Vic Guhrs
ISBN: 0143025260
Soft cover
Penguin South Africa

Read our interview with the author

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Howard Belsey, a Rembrandt scholar who doesn't like Rembrandt, is an Englishman abroad and a long-suffering professor at Wellington College. He has been married for 30 years to Kiki, an American woman who no longer resembles the sexy activist she once was. Their three children passionately pursue their own paths, and faced with the oppressive enthusiasms of his children, Howard feels that the first two acts of his life are over and he has no clear plans for the finale. Then Jerome, Howard's oldest son, falls for Victoria, the stunning daughter of the right-wing icon Monty Kipps.
      Increasingly, the two families find themselves thrown together in a beautiful corner of America, enacting a cultural and personal war against the background of real wars that they barely register ...

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On Beauty

Zadie Smith
ISBN: 014101945X
Penguin UK

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Young, American, and idealistic, the Whiteman bounds into Ivory Coast with a deep desire to Make a Difference. But then the NGO's funding dries up and he's stranded, unable to establish a water supply for the village and with plenty of time on his hands. With Mamadou as his guardian he builds himself a thatch-roofed hut, cultivates a field, masters the art of rainforest hunting, and inadvertently tramples over unspoken taboos, all the while being hopelessly distracted by women, from Mazatou the village flirt, to Djamilla the stunning Peul girl, and his neighbour's wife Mariam, whom he meets under the cover of darkness when the moon is new.
      Taking place against a backdrop of bloody civil war, this is the story of a white man losing his aid-worker illusions and discovering a different, more complicated Africa: perplexing brutal, beguiling and sexy.

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Tony Dí Souza
ISBN: 1846270499
Atlantic Books

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I have never looked into my sister’s eyes. I have never bathed alone. I have never stood in the grass at night and raised my arms to a beguiling moon. I’ve never used an aeroplane bathroom. Or worn a hat. Or been kissed like that ... So many things I’ve never done, but oh, how I’ve been loved. And, if such things were to be, I’d live a thousand times as me, to be loved so exponentially.”

The girls, Rose and Ruby Darlen, were joined at the head (craniopagus twins) in a rural farming community in 1974. Abandoned by their frightened teenage mother, they are adopted by the eccentric nurse who attended their birth, and her husband, a gentle immigrant butcher. The sisters attempt to lead a normal life, but can’t help being extraordinary.
      Now almost 30, Rose and Ruby are on the verge of becoming the oldest living craniopagus twins in history. Rose has a passion for writing, and The Girls is her version of life as a conjoined twin. Rose and Ruby are attached at the head, but their struggles and triumphs remind us that connection is central to us all.

Click here to buy The Girls from now!

The Girls

Lori Lansens
ISBN: 1844083659

  • For previous new book features from Penguin, click here
    Amazing articles!
  • Janet van Eeden reads Mary Wollstonecraft: a new genus, a biography by Lyndall Gordon
  • Amanda Botha oor die binnelandskap van Dalene Matthee se Die Uitgespoeldes (Penguin-uitgewers se eerste Afrikaanse roman)
  • Zoe Molver invites us to share some reflections on Marguerite Poland's novel Recessional For Grace
  • Clea Koff is the Bone Woman - Alan G Morris reviews the memoirs of her life as a forensic anthropologist
    Recommended reading!
  • Choose to read I choose to live
  • Michelle McGrane takes a look at A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
  • Penguin Red Classics! Michelle McGrane recommends you indulge yourself by reading Patrick Süskind’s Perfume
  • Janet van Eeden reads Mary Wollstonecraft: a new genus, a biography by Lyndall Gordon
  • Arja Salafranca is taken back to a different time and place as she reads Childhood: South Africans recall their past, edited Adrian Hadland
  • Michelle McGrane reviews Now Youíve Gone ín Killed Me, a selection of newspaper and magazine articles by journalist Lin Sampson
  • Michelle McGrane reads Come to the Table - A Passion for Eating and French Living by Louise Luiggi
  • Further Under the Duvet by Marian Keyes will have you cringing, smiling, laughing and sighing
  • Margaret Atwood's voice is unique and Curious Pursuits is a compulsively readable melange of non-fiction, which instructs and delights
  • The Bay of Noon by Shirley Hazzard: It will assuredly absorb and give pleasure to new generations of readers
  • With death staring her in the face, Vesna Goldsworthy attempts to capture her voice, her family history and her lost country for her son. Chernobyl Strawberries is the medium
  • The Food Taster, a sumptuous tale to get your teeth into
    Interviews galore!
  • new! Michelle McGrane in conversation with Norah Vincent, author of Self-Made Man
  • Janet van Eeden interviews Lyndall Gordon about her biography of Mary Wollstonecraft
  • Michelle McGrane interviews word collector and the author of The Meaning of Tingo, Adam Jacot de Boinod, who sheds some light on extraordinary words
  • Arja Salafranca speaks to Adrian Hadland about his work on Childhood
  • Tom Eaton discovers what influenced Zakes Mda to write The whale caller
  • "Before I could read, I loved books and liked to collect piles of them ..." Michelle McGrane in conversation with Finuala Dowling, author of What Poets Need
  • Marita van der Vyver - one of South Africa's favourite Afrikaans novelists - shares with us the art and hard work behind translations, storytelling and family
  • Vic Guhrs tells us about The Trouble with Africa and how he creates his beautiful wildlife artworks
  • Richard Mason spoke to LitNet about his latest novel, Us
  • We interview CEO of Penguin Books, Alison Lowry, about firing up young authors in South Africa
  • Read Rachelle Greeff's exclusive interview feature with Penguin author, Gillian Slovo
  • Read our ricochet interview with Penguin author, Barabara Erasmus
    Penguin attractions!
  • Win a copy of Adam Jacot de Boinod's The Meaning of Tingo by sending us your strangest Afrikaans word! (Competition closes 17 Feb 2006)
  • Crime is the inspiration: Installation art and five exquisite photography works, on exhibition at Merely Mortal art gallery, on Jan Smuts Avenue on 27th July. Don't miss it!

    LitNet: 23 August 2006

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