African authors

The adventure begins

By the time you all get to see this I will be well on my way to this magnificent view.

victoria falls

It’s of Victoria Falls on the border of Zimbabwe and Zambia in case you didn’t recognise it. The first destination on our holiday.

When I can manage to lift my eyes away from the view, they’ll be buried in one of several books I have with me. I thought it would be appropriate to start with two classic novels by African authors.

Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton is a novel from my large TBR. Published in 1948 it tells the story of Stephen Kumalo, a black Anglican priest from a remote rural Natal town, who goes to Johannesburg to search for his son. As Kumalo travels from place to place, he begins to see the gaping racial and economic divisions that are threatening to split his country. I remember reading this in the 60s and being moved by the way Paton shows some of the issues that would later give rise to apartheid.

My second choice is something I found when browsing in a bookshop in Johannesburg today. Odd how we bloggers gravitate to bookshops no matter where in the world we are.

The shop had a good selection of African writers and an assistant who was more then happy to share her recommendations. I could have come away with an armful but given I have to actually be able to lift my suitcase, I settled for just one.
Dalene Matthee was a South African author writing in Afrikaans and best known for her four Forest Novels, written in and around the Knysna Forest, along the tourist trail called The Garden Route between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. I bought Fiela’s Child, a 1985 novel in which a boy goes. Issuing in the forest. Nine years later government officials find a white child living with a coloured family in the mountains beyond the forest. They take him away from Fiela who has brought him up as her own son and return him to his original parents. But the boy waits and waits for Fiela to rescue him once more.

I had never heard of this author but have dipped into a few pages already and it seems a good one.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have an right appointment with a gin and tonic. Purely medicinal yiu understand, tonic being a well know means of avoiding malaria.



What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

14 thoughts on “The adventure begins

  • That really does sound like an adventure! I know the Paton book (in fact I have it on my own TBR) but had never heard of Dalene Mathee. I’ll be interested to see if it turns out to have been a good buy.

    • The Mathee novel turned out to be worth reading – it was vastly different to anything else I’ve read from south African authors. More a novel about people than about society but still interesting

  • You should get one of those citronella bands that repel mosquitoes. How awesome is that view. Happy holidays!

  • Are you on vacation or do you live nearby? Sometimes it is so frustrating only knowing people through their blogs. It is definitely on my bucket list to visit Victoria Falls and other sites on eastern Africa. My Sunday Salon

    • I love a long way away – in the UK – so this took quite an effort to get here (3 flights) but well worth it. Yesterday we walked through the fall mist and today flew over it in a helicopter. Spectacular. I do hope yiu can make it one day

  • I will be looking forward to a detailed literary account of your trip! I am aiming to visit South Africa later this year, much of which will be spent visiting with a friend on the ocean outside of East London. But as a fan of South African lit I have a list of books I hope to obtain when I’m in the country.

    • I’ve never visited that area but my previous visits have all been wonderful so I’m sure you’ll have a great time. Having a local to show you around will be even better.

  • Wow, impressive views! And I also read Cry the Beloved Country in the 60s, when I was attending SF State University. Memorable times!

    Enjoy your vacation!


    • Impressive is definitely a word that wouldn’t be out of place here laurel

  • Wow! Have a great trip! Looking forward to seeing photos!

  • readerbuzz

    Yes, you may need to drink a few of those medicinal concoctions…malaria is pretty nasty stuff. Enjoy!

    • I was reading yesterday about a mosquito called the silent killer because you dont even know you’ve been bitten


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