Ten books set in South Africa

This week's theme for Top Ten Tuesday is ten books set outside the US (Nope, it's not us (aka earthlings: human; vampire; zombie etc) it is US -United States)

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly link-up/meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish  where they provide a prompt and other lovers of list-making (me! me! me!) join in with their own top ten list. Feel free to have less than 10 or more if you need to at times and put a spin on the topic if you need to. Just please link back to The Broke and the Bookish  if you are participating. Link up with your BLOG POST (not your blog) in the linky provided and remember to pay it forward!

Seeing that I was born in the RSA (YES! You can actually sing it to the tune of the iconic Bruce Springsteen song -just do it in the right voice and facial expression as well) - I am proudly waving my flag. 

 Image result for waving south african flag       

Today I will give you ten books set in South Africa. But wait, there's more! Not only will I present you with ten wonderful books set in SA, I will also list them according to genre. Just to make it easier for you to spot your "magic words" (I've borrowed the term from Katherine @ I wish I lived in a library Magic Words in book blurbs)

1. Historical Fiction (Magic Word: WWII)

24689357The Girl from the Train by Irma Joubert The story starts in Poland as WWII draws to a close. The young Gretl (Grietjie in Afrikaans) is the only survivor after the Polish Resistance blows up a German train. She is rescued by Jakob (who was part of the blow-up gang) and for three years he takes care of her. But she couldn't stay with him forever and when German orphans were promised new futures in bright and sunny South Africa, Jakob puts her on a train (again). Gretl was placed with a lovely family and a black madonna. This novel is definitely one of my top 5 favorite WWII novels. 

2. Crime/Thriller (Magic Word: revenge/vigilante)

15946108Devil's Peak by Deon Meyer Meet Inspector Bennie Griesel. He's not your hero-type detective. In fact, his best years are behind him and he drowned most of them in a bottle. But he's clever and always one step ahead. Until he meets his match in a dangerous vigilante who has everything on his side, including public sympathy. This is by far my favorite Deon Meyer novel and I highly recommend this one to anyone who enjoys a good crime thriller. 

3. Cozy Mystery (Magic Words: recipes included)

28496467Recipes for Love and Murder by Sally Andrew Yes, I have mentioned this one more than once on this blog. But I just love it sooooo much and want the shuff it under everyone's nose. Can't you smell the bobotie and vetkoek and melktert? This book is really my favorite cozy mystery. Meet Tannnie Maria: she is short and soft with brown curls and untidy Afrikaans. She is also the agony aunt (the "dear Abby" Tannie) for the local paper, the Klein Karoo Gazette. One day, her life takes a sinister turn when a woman in the area is murdered and she becomes entangled in the investigation - to the intense irritation of a handsome local policeman.

She is also the best cook I have ever heard of. She has a recipe for just about everything under the sun - even murder. I'll say it again: If you don't want to read this book, buy borrow or steal it anyway - the included recipes are to die for.

4. Humor/Fiction (Magic Word: quirky)

21094993The Girl who saved the king of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson Nope, not a South African author. And the whole novel also doesn't take place in South Africa, just the first halve. The story opens in 1961 with the birth of Nombeko Mayeki in Soweto, South Africa. Although she was statistically destined for a short and hard life, it did appear as if the odds were ever in her favour. Yes, she was black and a girl. She was also ran over by a drunken engineer and forced to work for the brandy-soaked head of a top secret South African project.

 BUT Nombeko was clever and smart enough to make a fool of her oppressor who was less than smart. In fact, he has made a rather troublesome mathematical error. Nombeko knows about Engineer van der Westhuizen's small counting problem and uses her wit and intelligence to outsmart the engineer and two Mossad agents and escape to Sweden. Due to a mixup caused by three Chinese sisters who were in charge of postal services at Pelindaba, she also ended up with the wrong package on arrival at the Swedish embassy. 

This is the second novel by the Swedish author Jonas Jonasson and I enjoyed it even more than The hundred year old man who climbed out the window and disappeared. 

5. Classical Adventure (Magic Word: diamonds)

595010King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard Did you know: When Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island was first published, H. Rider Haggard made a 5 shilling bet that he could write a better adventure novel.

In 1885, Haggard published "the most amazing story ever written". It became one of the best selling novels of the nineteenth century. It is the first English novel set in Africa and is considered to be the genesis of the Lost World literary genre.

This novel tells of the search by sir Henry Curtis, Captain John Good and the narrator, Alan Quatermain, for Sir Henry's younger brother George. He has been lost in the interior of Africa for two years in the quest for King Solomon's mines. The legendary source of the Biblical king's enormous treasures. The three companions encounter fearful hardships, fierce warriors, mortal danger and the sinister and deadly witch Gagool. Quatermain tells the tale of their struggles through unmapped Africa with touches of humour and excitement. 

I enjoyed the audio reading of this book very much and it is one of my favorite reviews! King Solomon's Mines

6. Urban Fantasy (Magic Words: alternate reality)

7163862Zoo City by Lauren Beukes Not my reading preference at all. But this was a really good novel by South African author, Lauren Beukes. In a kind of dystopian Johannesburg (although I didn't think it was an "alternate reality" Jhb...) Zinzi December has a sloth on her back, a dirty 416 scam habit and a talent for finding lost things. When an old lady turns up dead, Zinzi is forced to take on her least favorite kind of job - missing persons. Her ticket out of Zoo City might be finding a teenage pop star for music producer Odi Huron. Instead, it catapults Zinzi deeper into the maw of a city twisted by crime and magic where she'll be forced to confront the dark secrets of former lives - including her own. The characters in this novel are very well portrayed, even the animals. The only truly negative thing was that there were quite a couple of lose threats. Hope to see a sequel sometime soon! 

7. Adult Fiction (Magic Word: explicit)

26031471Entertaining Angels by Marita van der Vyver This book was one hell of a shock to the South African-Afrikaans-Protestant community. Ever heard the word "taboe"? It roughly translates to everything-one-should-not-talk about. You only whisper it, very softly, in a dark dark room. 

Following the trauma of numerous miscarriages, the death of her baby and the collapse of her marriage, Griet Swart contemplates suicide. But a strategically placed cockroach brings her attempt to an abrupt end. Holding on to her sense of humor and supported by her family, friends, co-workers and therapist, Griet starts to rebuild her life. At her therapist's suggestion, she starts writing about her experiences and she reflects on these experiences through the age-old fairy tales that she loves so much.  As she processes her feelings through her writings, she finds unexpected (and rather explicit) liberation in Adam, an erotic and free-spirited surfer who literally arrives on her doorstep. Although her life is no fairy tale, Griet still holds out hope of finding her prince, or at least a happy ending. 

I've read this book 5 times already and think it's time for a re-read once again. 

8. Science Fiction (Magic Word: weird)

18453110The Three by Sarah Lotz Easily one of the weirdest books I've read. But I couldn't put it down! It was glued to my hand until it was finished. At 03:00 in the morning. Yes, I did woke my husband up. This book needs to be discussed and figured out. It is written by a South African author and only one of the planes crashed in South Africa. Oh am I jumping ahead here? Here's the Goodreads blurb (because I just can't explain it AT ALL): 

Four simultaneous plane crashes. Three child survivors. A religious fanatic who insists the three are harbingers of the apocalypse. The world is stunned when four commuter planes crash within hours of each other on different continents. Facing global panic, officials are under pressure to find the causes. There doesn't appear to be a correlation between the crashes, except that in three of the four air disasters a child survivor is found in the wreckage.  

Weird. Even the writing style of this novel was weird. Best way to describe it: Do you remember the couple of weeks and months after 9/11? All known media, conversations and thought were consumed by this event. Same with this novel. It did feel as if you are reading "The Times", watching CNN, following twitter and Facebook and going to church! There wasn't that much of a story, it was more a portrayal of events and the aftermath. I know there's a sequel, but I haven't read it yet. 

9. Academic Fiction (Magic Words: prescribed literature)

1076561Circles in a Forest by Dalene Matthee I don't think there are many South Africans out there who haven't read this book. Mainly because it was the prescribed literature for Grade 11/12 for years and years. In fact, I am convinced that some schools still read "Kringe in 'n bos" (Afrikaans translation). I know a number of guys who will state this as their favorite book (because it is the only book they have ever read). I've read many many many books after reading this in Grade 11 and I still say it is one of the best written novels I've ever read.

The Knysna Forest: a primal world of strange beauty and hidden dangers, of secrets shrouded beneath the canopy of towering trees (these trees truly are enormous). Where for centuries, the only sounds were the songs of birds and the trumpeting of the magnificent elephants. Until man arrived to claim for himself the rare wood of the trees, and the rarer ivory of the elephants' tusks. (Goodreads)

10. Classic/Animal/Adventure (Magic Word: dog)

Jock of the Bushveld by Percy FitzPatrick In my opinion, this is the most epic South African book and one of the best animal classics. I don't even know where to begin telling you about this book. We've grown up with this dog. There are numerous statues, streets, illustrations and movies in honor of Jock (of course he is a household name) in South Africa. This is the great heart of Africa.

Thalk to me! 

Have you read any of these novels set in South Africa? Please tell me your thoughts!

I would love to know what is your Top Ten favorite books set outside the US as well.  


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