The Picador Africa Classics were launched in 2014, and it aims to build a catalogue of exceptional titles that may be out of print or lack presence in digital form. It builds on the historical concept of the African Writers Series as well as the works of publishers such as Ravan Press, which showcased works of excellence by African writers. The focus of the series is South African fiction titles and ‘classic’ works of non-fiction. This important digital archive also serves to highlight great work that receives little or no attention.


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JOZI
This absorbing novel by Perfect Hlongwane offers a biting portrait of inner-city Jo’burg, ‘a place where dreams come to die’.  Written as a series of interlinked stories centering around an eclectic ensemble of characters, Jozi conjures for readers a city both familiar and surprising. With its vein of painful self-examination, evocative sense of place and unflinching exploration of the rawer aspects of Jo'burg living, it brings to mind the impact of cult literary figures like Dambudzo Marechere and Phaswane Mpe.
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I SPEAK TO THE SILENT
Walter Hambile Kondile is the typical ‘good native’ of his generation, poorly educated and subservient, brought up to know his place and believe that ‘it was God’s design for the white man to rule over me’. Then Kondile’s beloved daughter, Sindiswa, a young struggle activist, goes missing in exile. Kondile’s search leads him to Lesotho and grim discoveries of betrayal that shatter forever his own ‘complicity of silence’, committing him to an irrevocable path of no return. This is a compelling and beautifully written novel by Mtutuzeli Nyoka, a powerful storyteller who shares history as he sees it.
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WELCOME TO OUR HILLBROW
Welcome to Our Hillbrow by Phaswane Mpe is an exhilarating and disturbing ride through the chaotic and hyperreal zone of Hillbrow – a microcosm of all that is contradictory, alluring and painful in the South African psyche. Everything is there: the shattered dreams of youth, sexuality and its unpredictable costs, AIDS, xenophobia, suicide, the omnipotent violence that often cuts short the promise of young people, and the Africanist understanding of the life continuum that does not end with death but flows on into an ancestral realm.
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BROODING CLOUDS
The Brooding Clouds collection is a gem of creative achievement that stands as a poignant tribute to the tremendous talent of a writer cut down much too soon. Brooding Clouds is a posthumous collection of short stories and poems that were written as a prequel to Phaswane Mpe’s acclaimed bestseller, Welcome to Our Hillbrow. In these thematically linked stories, we meet the organic roots of the emblematic characters and concerns of the later novel.
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A DAUGHTER’S LEGACY
A Daughter’s Legacy is the story of Kedibone’s journey from childhood to parenthood, from the dusty streets of her home village to the modern worlds of university and working life. Determination and resilience battle with fear and insecurity in Kedibone’s searing engagement with relationships and personal growth. This novel by Pamphilia Hlapa is a bold and necessary statement that exposes the taboos and abuse that a male-dominated culture allows, if not engenders. It breaks the silence and connivance in a way that is seldom done.
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THE WORLD OF NAT NAKASA
Edited by Essop Patel
In this collection of some of the finest writings by Nat Nakasa, that loud and thunderous voice speaks with such clarity and insight as to create a book that has been read and reread since its first appearance in 1975. Nat Nakasa wrote: ‘I may shut up for some time because of fear. Yet even this will not make me feel ashamed. For I know that as long as the ideas remain unchanged within me, there will always be the possibility that, one day, I shall burst out and say everything that I wish to say – in a loud and thunderous voice.’
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TO EVERY BIRTH ITS BLOOD
Lyrical, empathetic and hauntingly powerful, Mongane Wally Serote's To Every Birth Its Blood explores the subjective experiences of a range of voices and characters who live, love and struggle in 1970s apartheid South Africa. Serote’s piercing treatment of the brutality of state violence, beatings, arrest, solitary confinement and exile is framed by black apathy, political awakening and the shift into violent dissent.
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OUR STORY MAGIC
Our Story Magic is a collection of enchanting and compelling tales written by Gcina Mhlophe, South Africa’s most popular performance storyteller. The illustrations are by artists from Mhlophe’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal. Read and share these eleven stories with the love that went into creating them.
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STORIES OF AFRICA
Stories of Africa is a folklore story collection that offers a feast of enjoyment for young South African readers, with ten enchanting tales, steeped in the imaginative richness of African oral tradition. Told with inimitable aplomb by Gcina Mhlophe, South Africa’s most popular performance storyteller, and illustrated by a lively selection of KwaZulu-Natal artistic talent, Stories of Africa is a classic to delight readers of all ages and cultures.
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FANIE FOURIE’S LOBOLA
Fanie Fourie’s Lobola is filled with naughty humour and ironic reversals of stereotype. With a deft and humorous pen, Nape ’a Motana evokes the colliding worlds of traditional and contemporary culture in a South Africa still struggling to renegotiate roles and relationships and shake off the complexes and prejudices of the past. This novel was turned into an acclaimed comedic film. It demonstrates how far we have come in that we can now write with piercing humour about what used to be life-and-death issues – specifically ‘love across the colour bar’.
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SHIRLEY, GOODNESS AND MERCY
Shirley, Goodness & Mercy is a heart-warming and compellingly honest story about a young boy growing up in the coloured townships of Newclare, Coronationville and Riverlea during the apartheid era. Despite Chris van Wyk’s later becoming involved in the struggle, this is not a book about racial politics. Instead, it is a delightful account of one boy’s special relationship with the relatives, friends and neighbours who made up his community, and of the important coping role laughter and humour played during the years he spent in bleak and dusty townships.
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FOOLS & OTHER STORIES
Fools and Other Stories is an intricate and subtle collection that deals with the formative experiences of growing up in a Johannesburg township during the apartheid years. "These five stories are part of a long project in which I am attempting to explore imaginatively various aspects of life in the community I grew up in in South Africa. The first part, which these five stories cover, deals with the themes of early childhood and adolescence. In the second part I hope to explore adult life up to old age; lastly, I want to imaginatively study the movement of social change." – Prof Njabulo S. Ndebele
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THE REDISCOVERY OF THE ORDINARY
Prof Njabulo S. Ndebele’s essays on South African literature and culture appeared initially in various publications in the 1980s. They encompass a period of trauma, defiance and change. In 1991, the essays were collected under the current title of Rediscovery of the Ordinary: Essays on South African Literature and Culture. That it is possible to republish the essays without revision so many years after their first appearance is a tribute to Prof Ndebele’s prescience. The issues that he raises and the questions that he poses remain key to a people who, after apartheid, have started to rediscover the complex ordinariness of living in a civil society.
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