Five dramatic page-turners to add to your South African library

South Africa is riddled with stories and anyone you speak to in this rich country will tell you their own version or their own chapter. We pride ourselves in taking locals and tourists around this beautiful land and showing them parts of the story they possibly haven’t yet seen.

What’s even more wonderful about living in a nation with so much cultural history is that some of those who have lived here have been brave enough to pen some of their stories. We’ve paged through a few of them and chosen five (from the steady hundreds) that you should add to your own collection of stories. Whether you hold a book library at home or prefer to read ebooks, make sure these five are on your list:


Cry, the Beloved Country – Alan Paton

South Africans are not unfamiliar with the divide between different people and cultures. In this story a father visiting his ill sister and searching for his lost son, comes upon some information of his son’s involvement in a murder. Two stories then merge of two fathers who have to confront each other as well as the love and loss for their sons. This book is a challenging one in that the reader is required to decide on his/ her own beliefs. It asks many deep questions and raises the ideal of forgiveness in a tumultuous time.


Spud – John van de Ruit

This story is written in the style of diary entries and recounts the experiences of one boy’s daily trials. The background of this story is apartheid South Africa in an English boarding school. The writing is light, humorous and uncomplicated, but it explores more complicated issues through innocent eyes. In between the pages you’ll find subjects like politics, friendship and the confusion around being a South African teenager.


Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela

No doubt that you have already heard of this book. Mandela’s legacy far transcends the South African boarders and the binds of history books. According to Mail and Guardian, Long Walk to Freedom is one of the most commonly stolen books in South Africa. Written by Mandela as an autobiography, he recounts his days on Robben Island, the political atmosphere of the apartheid government and his fight for freedom. It’s a truly iconic book that deserves both time and respect.


Country of My Skull – Antjie Krog

If you’re a first-time South African visitor, this book is a history lesson with a dramatic twist. Less than a year after his election, Nelson Mandela created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to begin the healing process for South Africans. One of the tasks involved in making this possible was hearing the testimonies of apartheid victims and leadership. This book walks through the traumatic years, as a journalist and poet, living in this time. It is truly heart-wrenching.


Jock of the Bushveld – Percy Fitzpatrick

This is the first real book that most South African children were read when they were small. It’s the story of a brave and determined dog. The author was a transport rider and this was the dog he was given as part of the requirements. An adventure like no other sees Percy and Jock with baboons, leopards, crocodiles and heroes and villains. This is a story you’ll want to be able to pull out for your own grandchildren.

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