I have gathered up some books for your beach bag this festive season. Some easy and amusing reads to while away the hours. I also suggest a suitable wine to go with each.
A pair from the Penguin African Writers series.
Penguin Books recently launched an African Writers series. I was very pleased to read a Ben Okri novel, Dangerous Love. Okri is a Nigerian writer of major international repute. His use of language is brilliant and though slow moving, perhaps this is an African thing, the leisurely pace of life, it is a fascinating picture of the life and times of Omovo, and office worker and artist. Okri is able to conjure up the most complete of pictures in one’s mind of Omovo’s life in the compound with his father and step mother, and his ill fated love affair with the beautiful Ifeyiwa.
A Question of Power is by Bessie Head, born in Pietermartizburg, lived in Botswana where she was long considered as that country’s best writer. She died very young in 1973, just as she was reaching international recognition as a writer. In this semi-autobiogrphical novel, Head describes the life of Elizabeth and her son, refugees from South Africa like Head herself. Finding that you can’t leave the past at the border, and in your new homeland, as a person of mixed race and with urban ways, she is marked as an outsider. An excellent read from this award-winning writer.
Barista Pinotage 2010
An African wine for African Books. Bertus Fourie’s invention, he who knows how to make Pinotage with these overt coffee flavours. Hugely successful with the people rather than the sniff- and spitterati, this wine is great slightly chilled, sappy fruity stuff.
Ben Trovato – The Whipping Boy
Anyone who reads the fictitious Ben Trovato’s column in the Sunday Times would love to have this amusing reminder of columns past. However, should one wish to use The Whipping Boy for nothing more than the simple pursuit of reading pleasure, one will be pleasantly surprised to discover that the book contains more than just a compilation of Trovato’s much-loved and widely hated columns. Scattered among these literary vipers, like shrapnel from fragmentation grenades, are a bunch of fake news stories, hilarious letters to the rich and famous and outrageous job applications that resulted in the author receiving not a single offer of employment.
Creation Merlot 2010
From the upper reaches of the Heel en Aarde Valley comes this elegant sappy fruited Merlot. The Martins and the Kasers are an enthusiastic foursome but I don’t think would offer the politically incorrect Trovato a job. The wine will certainly provide way more entertainment than the book.
Mind the Gap – Graeme Codrington & Sue Grant-Marshal
Amusingly subtitled, Own your Past, Know your Generation and Choose your future, this book takes a look at the way people think they understand children because they were children once. Here you will find out about your generation and those of the people who make up your world. Once you begin to understand them, and what makes them and you ‘tick’, the generation gap will shrink. So fasten your seatbelt for the roller coaster ride which will change your thinking forever. Excellent, amusing and informative.
Swartland Winery Bushvine Pinotage 2010
Ruby heart with garnet flashing round the edges. Bloodplums and black cherries wrapped in fresh spices and a swirl of smoke on the nose. Berries and cherries follow through on the palate with firm food friendly tannins and spices on the aftertaste.
Celebrate – Tina Bester
Jenny Crwys Williams of Radio 702 describes this as ‘simply the prettiest cookbook on the block.’ Pretty it might be – and with Craig Fraser’s sublime photography, Vivky Sleet’s words and Libby Doyles magical design, one would expect it to be. BUT if you want to celebrate – even if it is just four of you, this is a must have book. I can see your copy, like mine, getting covered in Macaron filling, smears of Chicken Liver Paté, slops of MCC and chocolatey drops of Duck Sauce. It’s a cant do withouter.
Krone Borealis 1997
With what else one Celebrate other than the pop of a cork off a good local bubbly. And this is a serious one. The Krone Borealis Vintage 1977 showing all the wonders of age, rich biscuity nutty and fruity whiffs, deep citrus and mineral flavours. You’ll want to drink this while planning your celebration – and during it. And after!
Come Again – Andrew Donaldson & Mandy Rossouw
Andrew Donaldson has been a journalist with the Sunday Times for many years. I so enjoy his weekly column. Mandy Rossouw is the international correspondent for Media 24 newspapers. Together they have put together this wonderful little snapshot of South Africa. The who and what that made you laugh or cry – or pull your hair out in frustration. If you are a news junkie [Julius Who?] or want a great giggle, this is for you. Or certainly a gift you should be buying for Christmas for your news junkie friends.
Rustenburg Roussane 2011
You want something extraordinary to drink with this book and this wine fits the bill. A delicious Mediterranean grape, making a sublime wine from one of the Cape’s First Growth Estates. Delicious creamy stuff, smelling of white flowers, tasting of white fleshed peaches with vanilla cream. Stonker!
Happy New Year, peace, health, success and prosperity be with you during 2012!