Book reviews by country: South Africa

For my series this summer, I am providing selections of book reviews by country. Either the author is from the country named in the post, or the book is set there.


South Africa consists of four reviews, three of them of books by Deon Meyer (written in Afrikaans, translated by K L Seegers). Dead Before Dying is the author's debut, about a country in transition from one regime to another, and the subsequent organisational challenge to a local police force against a background of criminal activity. I am yet to read the three intervening novels by this talented author, but loved Blood Safari (more or less a standalone, a little reminiscent of Peter Temple) and the very exciting Thirteen Hours, deservedly on the shortlist for the 2010 CWA International Dagger.

The fourth novel I've read from this region is Like Clockwork by Margie Orford (written in English).I am due to rectify my lack of South African variety very soon, I hope, although I'm also not going to leave it for too long before catching up on the remaining books by Deon Meyer. 

My South Africa reviews.

5 thoughts on “Book reviews by country: South Africa

  1. I should perhaps note that if I counted Peter Temple as South Africa, which would be quite justified I think, my total would go up by the same again and more!

  2. Have you read Malla Nunn? Also, how is Meyer regarding apartheid South Africa? (I would have a hard time reading anything about South Africa if it isn’t completely anti-apartheid, so just asking)

  3. Sorry Maxine but we have claimed Mr Temple well and truly.
    I agree that Meyer’s books are excellent, I have also read three and have BLOOD SAFARI ready and waiting on the TBR pile. Kathy of the three books of his that I’ve read (DEVIL’S PEAK, DEAD AT DAYBREAK and THIRTEEN HOURS) there really isn’t a for or against apartheid ‘message ‘- all are set in the period after the end of the apartheid system and they do in various ways explore the way South Africa has changed since that time and how the end of the system has affected various groups in the community but because they’re not set during apartheid they don’t go into it in the same way as other books do(such as Nunn’s which are set slap bang at the beginning of the awful system).
    I just picked up a different Margie Orford book from the library for the global reading challenge – thought it was set in south Africa but turns out to be in Namibia.

  4. Hmm, Bernadette, country of birth? 😉
    Kathy, I’ve just finished Malla Nunn’s debut, A Beautiful Place to Die, and have mixed reactions to it…review to come in a week or two.
    Agreed with Bernadette that Deon Meyer transcends the apartheid system, in that he writes about “people” without overt authorial comment. But it is clear from reading his novels that he has no truck with prejudice. (I’ve read Dead Before Dying, his debut, as well as Blood Safari and 13 Hours. Currently reading Dead at Daybreak.)
    I’ll be interested to read your review of the Margie Orford book, Bernadette.

  5. Thanks to Maxine and Bernadette for your comments about Deon Meyer’s books. That’s important to me.

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