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Don’t upset the uncles, but please chalk up a read on Eldos


Don’t upset the uncles, but please chalk up a read on Eldos

Once that’s done, delve into luxury handbags and try to survive Vladimir Putin

Sunday Times books editor

On Saturday we’ll be halfway through the year. Like most people, my mind and body still feel like they’re in February, and this column of books to look out for monthly seems to be coming around much more quickly. Even though there is still an obscene number of books I want to read from previous months, July has more to add to the pile I’m excited about.

First up is Don’t Upset ooMalume! A Guide to Stepping Up Your Xhosa Game by Hombakazi Mercy Nqandeka, a Xhosa ambassador and agriculturalist. Nqandeka was worried knowledge of Xhosa heritage and culture will be lost to future generations and in writing this book she hopes to help reconnect Xhosa people to their roots. The blurb is hilarious and it seems the book will be too: “Returning to the family homestead in the Eastern Cape these holidays, and worried that your city ways and less than perfect knowledge of Xhosa culture will get you a wagging finger in the face from oomalume, the uncles? No need to fret, this book aims to capture the essence of Xhosa heritage and culture and explores the many unique characteristics of village life.” Nqandeka has an effortless and clear voice, and, most important of all, a funny one. Don’t Upset ooMalume is also in English and Xhosa.

Talking about strong, unique voices, one of the books I am in awe of is Terry-Ann Adams’s latest, White Chalk, a collection of short stories set in Eldorado Park, Soweto. It’s not easy to write authentically without second-guessing how to offer something universal — to agonise over whether people will understand what you are saying. But the 20-year-old author writes effortlessly in slang and there’s no need to explain the colloquialisms because her storytelling is so powerful. Each short is better than the next, offering a vision of the everyday lives of those living in Eldos. It is poignant, vibrant, with underlying sobriety. Adams knows how to masterfully communicate her view of her world. Please read it...

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