Sithembile Mbete
Sithembile Mbete

The Yearning by Mohale Mashigo. A rich, satisfying work of fiction by an exciting young South African author. Reading it brought back fond memories of living in Cape Town, and the captivating mystery made the book unputdownable.

My Own Liberator by Dikgang Moseneke. After the rollercoaster of politics in 2016, the memoir of the former deputy chief  justice will restore your faith in ethical public leadership, and hopefully revive your commitment to making South Africa a prosperous, just, and democratic country for all who live in it. Swing Time by Zadie Smith. You can never go wrong with Smith. I’ve pre-ordered this novel to consume in the sun this summer. Mbete is a lecturer in the Department  of Political Sciences at the University  of Pretoria.


John Hunt
John Hunt

Ham on Rye by Charles Bukowski. This is an old classic that I’ve been  wanting to read for years. I love his  street-level honesty. While other authors often plane off the rough edges, Bukowski accentuates them. Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexievich. A thick book that arcs over “the last of the Soviets”. It’s an epic, Chekhov-type tale

I intend to lose myself in over the holidays. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. The book was recommended to me by a number of people. It’s about a blind French girl and a German boy who meet while trying to survive the devastation of the Second World War. Again, a book you feel you can get lost in from an author who clearly knows his way around words. Hunt is the worldwide creative director of TBWA.


Helen Sullivan
Helen Sullivan

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. If you’ve yet to read My Brilliant Friend, and the three books that follow, boy are you in for a good holiday. Ferrante’s
Neopolitan Novels, as the series is known, tell the story of two friends, Lenù and Lila, as they grow from children to adults in Naples, Italy. Besides the gleaming power of the characters and writing, the story  features long summer breaks on the island of Ischia — where better to be this summer?

You Want It Darker by Leonard Cohen. This isn’t a book recommendation, but
if Bob Dylan can win the Nobel Prize for Literature... A few weeks ago, after too
many Negroni Royales (the campari and gin cocktail, topped off with champagne), friends and I collapsed onto a couch and listened, concentrating, to music. It was a bit silly, but this holiday, spend an hour just sitting comfortably (or sprawled on a cool wooden floor), listening to one of Cohen’s
albums and reading the lyrics, perhaps drinking Campari. His most recent and last, You Want It Darker, is as beautiful as any.

The Magistrate of Gower by Claire  Robertson. Robertson is my mother, so I’ll leave this to Michele Magwood, who reviewed the book when it came out in
2015: “She has the crispness and economy of Coetzee, the subtle, oblique depth of Vladislaviç, the storytelling spell of Galgut and Mda. She is technically faultless and intensely imaginative. But she has something more, an affecting,
profound humanity that is entirely her own.”

Helen Sullivan is editor of the literary journal Prufrock.


Simon Gush
Simon Gush

The Problem with Work by Kathi Weeks. I don’t get to read much outside my research, which means I don’t do much light reading. However, Weeks’ book
is not too dense, and one of my all-time favourites. It is an essential book for
anyone who wants to understand how our society is constructed around work, and the limits that imposes on our collective imagination. Great for reading on holiday, but the prospect of returning to work may seem even more depressing afterwards.

Fish Story by Allan Sekula. It is tricky to recommend photographic books for
a summer read, as they tend to be big and heavy. But the ebook version of Fish
Story, convinced me that art books can really work in a digital format. Really
amazing, subtle images — and Sekula’s essays are fascinating. His gentle and
personal style draws the reader in, so it will take a while before you realise you
are knee deep in problems of global capitalism and its representations.

Asinamali: University Struggles in Post-Apartheid South Africa edited by Richard Pithouse. This is going to be my  December reading. It’s a collection of
essays that gives a historical perspective on the crisis in higher education and
demands of the student movement, with contributions by some interesting thinkers, such as Prishani Naidoo and the late Neville Alexander. Although it was published a few years ago, it seems more relevant now than ever.

Gush was awarded the Jury Prize at the Bamako Encounters Biennale in 2015.

© Wanted 2016 - If you would like to reproduce this article please email us.