Blood Kin, Ceridwen Dovey, 2008 — Dovey, a current graduate student in social anthropology at New York University, had originally wanted to film a documentary on South African president Thabo Mbeki through the lens of his chef, barber and portraitist. Instead, she wrote a fable about an overthrown president whose chef, barber and portraitist are held hostage by the new ruler.
Cry the Beloved Country, Alan Paton, 1948 — This classic novel about racial injustice in South Africa is as moving today as when it was first published and instantly became a best-seller.
Disgrace, J.M. Coetzee, 1999 — This novel, which won the 1999 Booker Prize, is a subtle exploration of South Africa post-Apartheid and all of its new complexities by the Cape Town born Nobel Prize winner now living in Australia.
The Power of One, Bryce Courtenay, 1990 — The story of Peekay, a young boy growing up in 1930’s and 1940’s South Africa. Peekay’s courage inspires and through his eyes, readers can see the beginning of apartheid unfolding.
Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela, 1994 — From political activist to prisoner, then president and Nobel Prize winner, Mandela’s story is a journey of modern Africa. Here, it is in his own words.
Tomorrow Is Another Country: The Inside Story of South Africa’s Negotiated Revolution, Alistair Sparks, 1995 — As a journalist at South Africa’s preeminent newspaper, Sparks bore witness to the end of Apartheid and wrote this fascinating account of the government’s dealings with Nelson Mandela. It reads like a spy novel but is based entirely on real events.
Country of My Skull, Antjie Krog, 1998 — Krog’s riveting book describes the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was tasked with hearing the wrenching testimony of the victims of apartheid, as well as of the perpetrators.
Nine Hills to Nambonkaha: Two Years in the Heart of an African Village, Sarah Erdman, 2003 — A moving memoir by a Peace Corps. Volunteer who was sent to a small village in the Cote d’Ivoire. In observing everything from the ancient rituals of sorcerers to AIDs affliction, she reveals the tensions and problems of modern Africa.
My Traitor’s Heart, Riad Malan, 2000 — After eight years away, Riad Malan returned to his home country of South Africa and witnessed the impact of apartheid.
Beyond the Miracle, Alistair Sparks, 2009 — Respected South African journalist Alistair Sparks looks at the modern South Africa’s politics.
Children and Teens
Akimbo and the Elephants, Alexander McCall Smith, 2007 — The well-known author has written a series of novels for young readers on African adventures. This one follows the son of a game warden who is trying to thwart elephant poachers.
The Field Guide to Safari Animals, Paul Beck, 2008 — A mysterious faux journal for children that follows adventurer Rebecca Mayhew on safari in 1924.
Waiting for Rain, Sheila Gordon, 1987 — This coming-of-age story follows the bond of friendship between two boys, Tengo and Frikkie, as they grow up under the pressures of apartheid in South Africa.