Holiday reading: South Africa

Books to read in SA


Tripfiction picks the best reads for your destination of choice. Make room in your suitcase…

Crowned by iconic Table Mountain, renowned for magnificent game parks, and home to the longest wine route in the world – it’s not surprising that countless writers have been inspired by South Africa’s people and landscape - Ernest Hemingway, Wilbur Smith and Nadine Gordimer, to name a few. Here are our top 3 picks.


Cobra by Deon Meyer (Hodder & Stoughton)

Benny Griessel and his team are investigating a massacre outside of Cape Town when they find themselves drawn into an international conspiracy with devastating implications. The only clues left on the scene are the mysterious shell casings – each ominously engraved with a snake.

Deon Meyer’s latest book - part crime thriller, part police procedural - remains a suspenseful page-turner from beginning to end. The setting and people are terrifically rendered, describing the rich beauty of the country with an overlay of political unrest and intrigue.

Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee (Vintage)

Set in the tumultuous and violent backdrop of post-apartheid South Africa, an incident involving University lecturer, David Lurie unwittingly sets in motion a chain of events that fully explores the theme of disgrace.

Coetzee litters the novel with decadent literary references, providing an insight to the self-absorbed mind of Lurie. Visceral and astringent, the novel scooped the Booker Prize in 1999 – and it’s not hard to see why.

The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay (Penguin) 

Set between 1930 to 1950, Courtenay’s coming-of-age novel follows a five-year-old boy, Peekay, and his progression into adulthood at such a volatile time in South Africa’s history. Peekay’s inspiring struggle with race and racism is at the forefront of the novel, but then, a chance encounter with an amateur boxer introduces hope and ambition into the young boy’s life.

A vivid and colourful masterpiece, which truly brings the African continent to life.

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