THE WOMAN NEXT DOOR | Yewande Omotoso

Two octogenarians — one black, one white — form the prickly kernel of Omotoso’s new novel. Embittered, lonely, and hateful at the novel’s opening, it appears the neighbours couldn’t be more divided. But then Omotoso 
deftly throws the two together — with explosive, moving, and transformative results, showing 
that while the past may imprison us, freedom is not impossible. 

Chatto & Windus, R305


R600-billion of black economic empowerment (BEE) deals later, what has changed? For our country’s unemployed young people, and millions of its poorest, the answer is “not nearly enough”. In the forensically researched and accessibly written BEE: Helping or Hurting?, Anthea Jeffery explains why this is the case, with a sweeping survey of BEE, affirmative 
action, land restitution, and other attempts at redress since 1994. Acknowledging the need to tackle inequality, Jeffery proposes an alternative to BEE,  economic empowerment for the disadvantaged — using “income and other indicators of socioeconomic advantage as the foundation for its interventions”. 

Tafelberg, R270


The journalist Gavin Evans goes to some lengths to show that the science is clear: race is social construct, not a biological fact; there are more genetic differentiations inside “races” 
than between them. Despite this, a bunch of pseudoscientists — many of them IQ-obsessed 
evolutionary psychologists — continue to make racist claims that insist certain races (typically 
whites and Asians) have evolved to become genetically smarter than others (typically blacks). Evans compre-hensively (and often humorously) rubbishes the theories espoused by these crackpots, and he should be 
applauded for his entertaining, easy-to-understand, and hugely insightful contribution to debunking the pseudoscience around race. 

Jonathan Ball, R240

WRITING WHAT WE LIKE | Editor Yolisa Qunta

True to its title, inspired, of course, by Steve Biko’s famous essay, “I write what I like”, this collection speaks boldly and unashamedly about race in South Africa. It features young black writers of various backgrounds and trajectories, who grapple with a variety of 
contentious topics, including  the meaning of blackness, the  problematic terminology of the race debate in South Africa, romance in a time of freedom, and comic relief. Many essays 
show maturity and thoughtful analysis of white, black, and coloured relationships in South 
Africa, and some inspiring visions for the future. This book is bound to further this conversation, and help define  the responsibilities of a new

Tafelberg, R195


City Press editor Ferial Haffajee does not endorse removing all white people in one foul swoop, or the accelerating of existing broad-based black economic empowerment efforts. Instead, her book suggests that the idea of a white/black dichotomy is, at best, a too-neat descriptor of what is really going on. Drawing on her own  experiences, Haffajee explore the way in which struggle rhetoric has continued to persist as part of our dialogue on race today, and how this rhetoric is no longer adequate. The question, really, is not if there were no whites in South Africa, but what if we stopped speaking about white and black, and instead start talking about how  we can build a future with what we have now. 

Picador Africa, R275

IN THE MAID’S ROOM | Hagen Engler

Now my fuckin’ canopy got stolen! I spend the night sleeping in a fuckin’ store room that smells of thinners, my furniture gets rained on during the night. I’m so fuckin’ irate with Ready and Mouse that I don’t even wanna go inside
and speak to them. I can smell them having housewarming spliffs with fuckin’ Sizwe and I don’t even have any weed on me so I just sit back here in my room and stew. Of course it’s all my weed that I bought, or that Mouse put on my account at Mark the Mert. But that’s par for the fuckin’ course. And now I wake up and my bladdy canopy’s got stolen right off my bakkie. From right outside  the Swamp. I don’t know if it’s  because Sizwe’s just moved in, but it’s a strange coincidence.

Jacana, R220

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