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Wordsetc Journal

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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Call for Wordsetc book reviewers

Wordsetc is looking for competent and excellent reviewers. Below is a list of books. Word count: 600 words. We don’t pay monetarily. But you get to keep the book and a get a free copy of the journal when it comes out.

If you are interested and can do this by 23 February 2012, write to with the name of the book you’d like to receive and include your name, postal address. Please note: first come, first serve.


1. Nobody Will Ever Kill Me by Mbu Maloni

2. Marginal Spaces: Reading Ivan Vladislavic edited by Gerald Gaylard

3. Missing & Murdered by Allan G. Morris

4. Stranger At Home by Ashlee Neser

5. Children of Paradise by Mbulelo Vizikhungo Mzamane

6. Becoming Worthy Ancestors: Archive, Public Deliberation and Identity in South Africa edited by Xolela Mangcu

7. An Inconvenient Youth: Julius Malema and the “new” ANC by Fiona Forde

8. A Testament Of Hope: The Autobiography of Dr Sam Motsuenyane by Dr Sam Motsuenyane

9. Mugabe And The White African by Ben Freeth

10. Things I Thought I Knew by Kathryn White

11. Belly Of Fire by Shafinaaz Hassim

12. Eish, but is it English? by Rajend Mesthrie with Jeanne Hromnik

13. Monkey Business by Mike Nicol

14. After Just Now by Gillian Schutte

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Wordsetc Issue 9: Lewis Nkosi

Wordsetc 9: The Lewis Nkosi Edition

“He did not suffer fools gladly and hated ‘triumphalist’ and ‘nationalistic’ propagation of literature and other arts that lacked sincerity and theoretical vigour. He had an immense understanding of literature as a craft and an expression of a people’s experience.” – Sandile Ngidi, Lewis Nkosi’s local agent for his last book, Mandela’s Ego.

The ninth edition of Wordsetc is out. It leads with a heartfelt profile of Lewis Nkosi ,who died late last year. Nkosi was the last of the much-celebrated crew of Drum journalists of the 1950s. After Drum, he went on to conquer the world of academia, lecturing posts at various universities during his exile from South Africa. He is regarded as a perceptive, if sometimes pugnacious, essayist and literary critic who had no qualms speaking his mind. His most famous book is Mating Birds, an explosive novel about miscegenation that won both praise and criticism. In this warts-and-all profile Nkosi comes alive as a man with a bohemian streak and a man of letters who relished a good intellectual fight. Early in 2008 he exclusively wrote a weighty essay for Wordsetc on how he writes. We are proud and humbled to feature it for the first time in this current edition.

The edition’s other contents are equally absorbing. Mike Sager, our California-based editor at large and novelist, goes to a banquet in honour of Gay Talese, a pioneer of New Journalism. Amanda Patterson reflects on her writing career and how she started her successful writing course. Meanwhile, Kimon Neophyte assesses Tolstoy’s legacy a hundred years after his death, while Pumla Dineo Gqola delves into slave memory and how it affects South Africa today. Matthew Freemantle relives the horror of a bus ride from Dar es Salaam to Johannesburg with two border jumpers. Cynthia Jele tells us how she writes her novels while Prof Kole Omotoso looks at Nigerian literature fifty years after independence. Botswana novelist Lauri Kubuitsile relates the experience of taking up an exceptional writers’ residency in Egypt. There’s also a delightful short story by Carly Brown. In our appraisal section Joe Thloloe pays tribute to Alf Kumalo, a world-renowned photographer he describes as “a poet with a camera”.


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Call for Wordsetc book reviewers

Wordsetc is looking for competent and excellent reviewers to write 600 word reviews on a number of current books. We don’t pay – but you get to keep the book and a get a free copy of the journal when it comes out.

If you are interested and can do this within the next two weeks, write to with the name of the book you’d like to receive (choose from the list below). Include your name and postal address.

Please note, first come first served. No chancers please.

Books for review:

1. Foot Soldier For Freedom: A Life in South African liberation movement by Rica Hodgson

2. Under Protest: The Rise of Student Resistance at the University of Fort Hare by Daniel Massey

3. To Serve and Protest: The Inkathagate Scandal – As told to Laurence Piper by Brian Morrow

4. Fighting For Justice by Jay Naidoo

5. The Vintage Caper by Peter Mayle

6. The Ice On Mars by Sean Badal

7. My Friend The Mercenary by James Brabazon

8. Thank you, Judge Mostert! by Carmel Rickard

9. The Music in the Ice: On Writers, Writing and Other Things by Stephen Watson

10. Let The Dead Lie by Malla Nunn

11. The Mars on Mars by Sean Badal

12. Madame Verona Comes Down The Hill by Dimitri Verhulst

13. India: A Million Mutinies Now by V.S. Naipaul

14. A Case of Knives by Julian de Wette

15. The Mission: A Life For Freedom in South Africa

16. The Mind’s Eye by Oliver Sacks

17. Thank You Judge Mostert! by Carmel Rickard

18. Let The Dead Lie by Malla Nunn

19. The Traitor’s Wife by Kathleen Kent

20. The Seas by Samantha Hill

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Call for Wordsetc reviewers

Wordsetc is looking for brilliant book reviewers for our June edition, which is soccer-themed.

Some of the books for review:

1. Africa United: How Football Explains Africa by Steve Bloomfield
2. The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna
3. The Thin Line by Arja Salafranca
4. Bury Me at the Marketplace
5. The Mistress’s Dog: Short Stories 1996 – 2010 by David Medalie
6. Nourishment by Gerard Woodward
7. Innocent by Scott Turow

Interested writers, please send a note to Phakama Mbonambi at Please indicate book you’d like to review and send your postal address.

Reviews need to be 500 words. You get to keep the book and you will receive a copy of Wordsetc when it comes out.

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Crime fiction: Seventh edition of Wordsetc hits bookshelves

Wordsetc 7 Featuring (Margie Orford)

The seventh edition of Wordsetc, South Africa’s foremost literary journal, has just reached the shelves! The publication continues to showcase the best of South African literature. This time around it focuses on crime fiction as a theme. Guest edited by author and editor Joanne Hichens the edition explores the ins and out of the genre, the motivation of crime writers to write crime fiction, and takes a look too at real-life crime in our society.

Read all about Margie Orford’s success – how she makes crime pay – with her Clare Hart series, in the main profile by Sam Beckbessinger.

There are also illuminating essays by writers such as Hichens, Jassy Mackenzie, Sarah Lotz, Richard Kunzmann, Roger Smith, Helen Moffett, Andrew Brown, Justice Malala, Emma Chen, Thembelani Ngenelwa and Megan Voysey-Braig. It’s a feast of reading for the literati or those who simply can’t get enough of South African literature.

Contents at a glance:


Personal notes: First loves: Justice Malala remembers the crime thrillers of his youth

Essay: Of heroes and villains: Jassy Mackenzie sizes up different characters in krimis

Real life: With best intentions: Andrew Brown on the humiliation of an innocent man

Feature: Oscar replies: The intrigue of Bubbles Schroeder’s murder continues by Carla Chait

Profile: The queen of crime fiction: Margie Orford lets the blood flow on her pages by Sam Beckbessinger

Essay: A little bit of ultraviolence : Richard Kunzmann finds it unavoidable, even necessary

Essay: Community matters: Novelist Joanne Hichens guards her neighbourhood

Essay: Sex and crime: The portrayal of prostitution in local crime novels by Nora Krüger

Essay: Fictional justice: Sarah Lotz, writer of Exhibit A, ruminates on the growth of the legal thriller

Real life: A letter to my killer: Writer Thembelani Ngenelwa relives the day he was shot and left dead

Real life: Crimes of passion: Poet Fungisayi Sasa ponders this ugly British stain

Perspectives: Crime and punishment: Five South Africans offer their views on the scourge of crime, as told to Phakama Mbonambi


Letters: How readers feel about us

Fiction: Burning A short story by Megan Voysey-Braig

Book reviews & etc

A look at the latest local and international reads

Appraisal: A man of our times: How Deon Meyer revived the local crime thriller

Fiction: Poppy A short story by Helen Moffett

How I write: My life of crime: Crime writer Roger Smith examines the “what ifs” in his stories


Travel: Up the River Niger: Joanne Rushby journeys to Timbuktu the hard way

Travel: A taste of Russia: Bronwyn McLennan’s enchanting visit

Food & drink: Served up the Chinese way: Emma Chen on her life, love for good food and her new book


Visit us at

Subscription is R170 for four editons.

For more information, write to:

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Call for Reviewers for the Next Wordsetc

Book ReviewerWordsetc is in need of some stellar book reviewers to take on the latest batch of books that have made their way to our door.

We’ve got a long list of titles to choose from and reviewers get to keep the book. Our deadline is the end of the month, so write to asap to claim your patch of the next Wordsetc!

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Call for Wordsetc Reviewers

Wordsetc is looking for book reviewers. The next edition will be out at the beginning of April. There’s no pay but you get to keep the book and get your name in this classy journal. If you are interested, please respond to

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Hope: Fourth edition of Wordsetc hits bookshelves

Wordsetc Four

By turning to books to tell his complicated life story, Barack Obama successfully sold his grand vision for his country that would otherwise have viewed him as too exotic, and perhaps, unelectable, because of his race and Islamic name.

This fourth edition of Wordsetc, South Africa’s foremost literary journal, looks at the life of the US President-elect through the prism of literature. Inside Obama the politician there’s Obama the writer. The edition also looks at what he stands for and the unprecedented results of the 2008 US presidential election. In addition to the main profile, there are plenty of in-depth essays offering different perspectives on what Obama represents.

Contents at a glance

In the main profile Wordsetc editor and publisher Phakama Mbonambi notes that Obama used a stirring memoir (Dreams From My Father) to sell his life story and convince a sceptical electorate that his name and heritage may be exotic to a US audience but he was, in fact, electable to the ultimate public office – the Oval Office. His roots as a writer are also explored, with his mother looming large.

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Obama: man on a mission

from Promise to PowerObama: From Promise to Power by David Mendell, reviewed by Phakama Mbonambi

At a Democratic Convention in Boston during the 2004 presidential race, a little known senator from Illinois called Barack Obama gave a keynote address that sought to unify the US.

He said there were no red states for Republicans and no blue states for Democrats; that there was no America for whites, blacks and Latinos but one United States of America for all.

Many at the convention shrieked with delight and many more were moved to tears. His powerful speech catapulted Obama to political stardom and helped him launch his current history-making run for the White House with a promise of change.

With Obama-mania in full swing across the world, it is timely to get a book that looks at his rise to political superstardom.

Journalist David Mendell followed Obama for three years, covering his political ascent. So he knows his subject intimately, enabling him to paint a well-rounded portrait of Obama, a man who has become synonymous with clean politics and hope.

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Wordsetc seeks book reviewers

We are busy with the fourth edition of Wordsetc. We’re looking for excellent book reviewers. There’s no pay but you get to keep the book and you become part of the exciting and ever-growing Wordsetc family!

Books are chosen by Wordsetc. If you are keen, please come back to me –

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