1. Future Tense — Reflections on my Troubled Land by Tony Leon (Jonathan Ball Publishers)
With acute insight, the veteran politician presents a portrait of SA today and scenarios — some hopeful, thankfully — for the future.
2. Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Faber & Faber)
This is Ishiguro’s first novel since he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Through his startling main character, an “artificial friend” named Klara, he considers what it means to love, and to be human.
3. Walking With Ghosts by Gabriel Byrne (Picador)
The great Irish actor looks back over his life with unbridled honesty. Raised in near-poverty, the eldest of six children, he was heading for the priesthood but was expelled from the seminary. Luckily he fell in with an amateur dramatics group and started on the road to Broadway. Colum McCann calls it, “A book that will wring out our tired hearts.”
4. How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates (Penguin Random House)
Subtitled ‘The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need’, this is a rousing call to arms. Gates consults the most authoritative experts in their various fields and lays out a plan to get to zero greenhouse gas emissions in time to avoid a climate catastrophe.
5. A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins (Doubleday)
Who could forget The Girl on the Train? The 2015 hit was one of the top five best-selling hardback novels since records began. In her latest outing, Hawkins again delivers a gripping and twisted tale of deceit and revenge that kicks off with a dead body on a London houseboat. Pre-order it now — this is one that will fly off the shelves.
6. The Beauty of Living Twice by Sharon Stone (Knopf)
Actor and now humanitarian Stone reveals how she rebuilt her life after a massive stroke wiped out her career. She calls it, “A book for the wounded, and a book for the survivors,” telling how she slowly made her way back to centre stage to fight for the rights of women and children.
7. An Unusual Grief by Yewande Omotoso (Cassava Republic)
Omotoso keeps going from strength to strength. In this highly anticipated new book, a woman tries to come to terms with the death of her estranged daughter. She cracks open taboos around motherhood, insanity, death, and sexuality, presenting an unvarnished portrait of grief.
8. Peaces by Helen Oyeyemi (Faber & Faber)
Oyeyemi, the bestselling author of Gingerbread, returns with another delirious novel. A couple sets off with their pet mongoose on a sleeper train that turns out to be anything but ordinary, and will make them relook their entire lives.
9. The Promise by Damon Galgut (Penguin Random House)
We’ve waited a long time for a new book from the Booker-shortlisted Galgut, one of SA’s most esteemed novelists. It is a rich saga of the Swart family, three siblings buffeted by contemporary history and haunted by unmet promise.
10. Chronicles of the Happiest People on Earth by Wole Soyinka (Penguin Random House)
Lockdowns have had at least one positive effect: the Nigerian writer and Nobel laureate is publishing his first novel in 50 years, having spent the months ceaselessly writing. Billed as “a narrative tour de force”, it’s a tale of mischief and murder, packed with colourful characters and witty insights.