Book reviews

This page features a selection of reviews by Grocott's Mail of books from various South African publishers, 
including Jacana Media and Penguin Books SA. We take a look at the best current fiction and non-fiction
coming out of South Africa, tastebud-tingling cookbooks and more.


Book review: Teenage lessons in dystopia

One of the most raved-about young adult novels of the last decade just got a sexy revamp as a film tie-in edition to celebrate the release of a major film this year.

Book review: Be the braai master this Christmas

This week I was taken on a culinary braai adventure from Soweto to the Tsitsikamma Forest, the one-horse towns of Hogsback and Villiersdorp and even some beach roads such as the Wild Coast and Sodwana Bay.

Book review: Time for a bear adventure!

Kids this Christmas have some adrenaline-filled adventures to look forward to - and they don't even have to leave their favourite chair.

Book review: Nostalgia and some random k@k

Do you remember yo-yos, bell bottoms, playing “stingers” with a tennis ball at break or winding up cassette tapes with a Bic pen?

Book review: A lesson in living from the dying

Few authors have the ability to produce a first-class fictional gem that makes even the most insensitive reader shed a tear. 

Book review: Temper your taste buds

If you're anything like me, December fever has kicked in. You’re lazy; the anger builds up as you watch your friends and family take to their holidays while you slump over a mountain of end-of-year paperwork.

Book review: When worlds collide in Lagos

The Spider King’s Daughter is the first novel to be published by Nigerian author Chibundu Onuzo and is a beautifully told story of the cause and effect of human actions in the bustling metropolis of Lagos. 

Book review: When a mountain goes walkabout

“I like this book,” said Seven Years Old, looking up and smiling. “Whose is it?” He’d spotted it lying among a pile of accounts and an old Grocott’s Mail and that answered my first question: aren’t these illustrations a bit dark and subtle for a children’s book?

Book review: The funny thing about politics

Cartoonist Jeremy Nell, pen-name Jerm, brings the world of political cartoons, strips and gags to fiery life in his collection of thought-provoking, hard-hitting and humorous cartoons in his new book.

Book review: Marrying black girls

Identity has always been a challenging concept for me. I’ve never felt comfortable with describing mine.

Redemption, loyalty, and sacrifice for a King

South African author Gareth Crocker’s second novel published this year, King, is an emotional literary work of art.

Book review: A glimpse into our wild past

In 1752 Governor Ryk Tulbagh dispatched a well-kitted-out expedition with the ultimate goal of discovering who and what lay beyond the eastern frontier of the colony, then the Great Brak River.

Local poet honoured with anthology

Celebrated South African poet and teacher Don Maclennan was honoured at the posthumous launch of his Collected Poems at Rhodes University last week.

Eclectic poetry and prose from ISEA

Aerial 2012, an anthology of poetry and prose, is what happens when a group of creative people put their pens together to create something beautiful.

Back to the heart of the Karoo

Through personal reflections and family tales, Palmer weaves their farm-life experience, South African traditional farm cooking and her specialist botanical knowledge together to cultivate a book that is as tasty as the fruits of Cranemere farm. 

Circumventing desert island cliches

Siobhan Curham, acclaimed author of young adult novels like Dear Dylan and Finding Cherokee Brown has just released her first book in the Shipwrecked series. 

Nostalgia straight from Gran's pantry

You know, there’s one thing your granny is right about: in her day, they sure knew how to cook! No, not a single Steers rave burger in sig

A story of healing

In her literary debut, well-known media personality Redi Tlhabi explores the scourge of gender violence in South Africa and the intricacies of cause and effect behind it. 

Young Writers' Anthology: Generation creative

Paperight's most recent offering is rich and surprising, filled with short stories, essays, poetry and art from some of the country's most promising young creatives.

Mapping an African renaissance

Published by Jacana Media, Rumours is a powerful book that explores life, culture, family, and African tradition in the changing South African landscape and global context. 

Poetry for the rhino

Tonight a collection of poems written by people in 15 countries, for and about the rhino, will be launched at Rhodes University’s Environmental Learning Research Centre.

Bloody satisfying book is out

The National Arts Festival and Mercury Books have announced the winners of the inaugural Short Sharp Stories Awards.

Brush up on your South American history

Historical facts have never been my forte. However, Spanish author Roberto Ampuero’s fictional novel, The Neruda Case, provided the ideal opportunity for me to become better acquainted with Spanish and brush up on my geography.

My killer kids

Graham Cooke seems allergic to something in the air of the concrete jungle. He would rather live in a Spartan bush camp and challenge lions and hyenas for his living space than deal with the mind-jarring stream of Joburg traffic sounds and a life without nature and wild animals.

Spud series hits gold status

Spud 2: The Madness Continues (2007) is John van de Ruit’s second offering in the popular Spud book series.

The Chronicle of Jeremiah Goldswain

I doubt there is any better description of what life was like for the 4 000 British settlers who came to the Albany area in 1820. The Chronicle of Jeremiah Goldswain is a vivid, first-hand account of a young sawyer’s journey from Great Marlow in England to Grahamstown on the Eastern Frontier.

Banner picture: Abhi Sharma on

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