Book recommendations from your favourite authors

Book recommendations from Sue Nyathi, Phumlani Pikoli, Craig Higginson, Fiona Snyckers and Gaongalelwe Tiro.

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In these uncertain and difficult times, more people are turning to reading for comfort, inspiration and escapism. We asked our local authors to share their reading list filled with books they've read and enjoyed. Full of insightful, poignant and reflective books, this list has something for everyone. Not only is this inspirational but it is also a great way to get to know your favourite authors better. And to get a glimpse into their book shelves, bedside tables and reading taste.

Sue NyathiThe GoldDiggers 

Sue was born and raised in Bulawayo and resides in Johannesburg. Her debut novel, The Polygamist, was published in 2012. The GoldDiggers was first published in 2018, receiving much acclaim from readers and critics alike (now longlisted for the 2020 International Dublin Literary Award).

  1. Sarah Ladipo Manyika - In Dependence 
  2. Hassan Ghedi Santur - The Youth of God
  3. Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu - The Theory of Flight
  4. Kurt Ellis - In the Midst of Wolves

Phumlani PikoliBorn Freeloaders

A multi-disciplinary artist whose writing has been described as ‘a generational ode’. Phumlani's novel, Born Freeloader is a must-read!

  1. Saul Bellows - Humboldt’s Gift
  2. Ralph Ellison - The Invisible Man
  3. Angela Makholwa - Black Widow 
  4. Ivan Vladislavic - Double Negative

Craig HigginsonThe White Room 

Craig Higginson black and white photo

Craig is an internationally acclaimed playwright and novelist. His plays have been performed and produced in many theatres and festivals around the world. His novels include Last SummerThe Landscape PainterThe Dream House and The White RoomThe Dream House is the IEB English matric setwork for South African schools (2019–2021). His latest novel, The Book of Gifts is available online and in-stores.

  1. Sally Rooney - Normal People
  2. Annie Proulx - The Shipping News
  3. Barbara Kingsolver - Prodigal Summer
  4. Ian McEwan - Machines Like Me

Fiona SnyckersLacuna

Author of the Trinity series of young adult novels, the Eulalie Park series of mystery novels, and two high-concept thrillers, Now Following You and Spire. Fiona Snyckers' Lacuna, has recently been announced the  winner of 2020 National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences Award in the Fiction - Best Novel category.

  1. Gail Schimmel – The Accident 
  2. Lauri Kubuitsile - But Deliver Us From Evil
  3. Edited by Zukiswa Wanner - Water Birds on the Lakeshore
  4. Karen Jennings - Upturned Earth

Gaongalelwe Tiro, Parcel of Death: The Biography of Onkgopotse Abram Tiro

Parcel of Death recounts the little-told life story of Onkgopotse Abram Tiro, the first South African freedom fighter the apartheid regime pursued beyond the country’s borders to assassinate with a parcel bomb. Gaongalelwe Tiro is a communication professional. He has extensive journalism experience, including stints with international wire agency. Tiro was born and raised in the township of Temba, near Hammanskraal. Onkgopotse Abram Tiro was his (paternal) uncle.

  1. Robert Trent Vinson - The Americans Are Coming!: Dreams of African American Liberation in Segregationist South Africa
  2. Cedric Robinson - Black Marxism: The Making of the Black Radical Tradition
  3. Ndumiso Dladla - Here is a Table: A Philosophical Essay on the History of Race in South Africa
  4. Colson Whitehead - The Underground Railroad

If you’re looking for more inspiration and books to read, click HERE.

Born Freeloaders

by Phumlani Pikoli

Book cover for Born Freeloaders

Born on the cusp of democracy, the crew of young friends in Born Freeloaders navigates a life of drinking, wild parties and other recklessness. The siblings at the centre of the novel, Nthabiseng and Xolani, have been raised in an upper middle-class family with connections to the political elite. Nthabiseng is lauded by her peers as she whimsically goes through life, unable to form her own identity in a world that expects her to pick a side in the fractured classifications of race. Xolani, not having known his late father, longs for acceptance from an uncle who sees him and his generation as the bitter fruit borne of a freedom he and countless others fought for.

As the story moves across multiple spaces in the nation’s capital over a weekend, Born Freeloaders captures a political and cultural moment in the city’s and South Africa’s history. Interwoven is an analogous tale of the country’s colonisation and the consequences that follow. And alongside the friends’ uneasy awareness of their privilege is a heightened sense of discomfort at their inability to change the world they were born into.

The White Room

by Craig Higginson

Book cover for The White Room

South African playwright Hannah Meade arrives in London for the opening night of her new play. She has arranged to meet Pierre, the student she was in love with when she taught English in Paris. During their time together, they lied their way towards truths they were too young and inexperienced to endure. Perhaps this time they will have a second chance.

As the reader is drawn from contemporary London back to Paris on the eve of the war in Iraq, the mystery of past events is brought to vivid life in a series of dramatic, intriguing and deeply moving encounters. Written in layered, stark prose, The White Room lays bare many of our assumptions about language, identity, memory, loss and love.


by Fiona Snyckers

Book cover for Lacuna

Lucy Lurie is deeply sunk in PTSD following a gang rape at her father’s farmhouse in the Western Cape. She becomes obsessed with the author John Coetzee, who has made a name for himself by writing Disgrace, a celebrated novel that revolves around the attack on her. Lucy lives the life of a celibate hermit, making periodic forays into the outside world in her attempts to find and confront Coetzee.
The Lucy of Coetzee’s fictional imaginings is a passive, peaceful creature, almost entirely lacking in agency. She is the lacuna in Coetzee’s novel – the missing piece of the puzzle.

Lucy Lurie is no one’s lacuna. Her attempts to claw back her life, her voice and her agency may be messy and misguided, but she won’t be silenced. Her rape is not a metaphor. This is her story.