A feast of local literature by top writers as Exclusive Books celebrates its 19th anniversary

The books on offer include fiction, non-fiction, biography, critical books and children’s books.

By Edward Tsumele, CITYLIFE/ARTS Editor

South Africa when it comes to reading culture lags behind compared to say the US and the UK, just to name two reading nations in the world, with our best sellers selling in the region of 3000, and those really lucky going as high as 5000 copies. We are talking fiction here of course and not Non-fiction, which for some reason is a category which happens to sell much better. The debate why this is so has been going on for a while now and the reasons being given starting to sound like a broken record. Bantu education, the high cost of books, poverty among the majority, inaccessibility of retail shops and writers not producing books that connect with South Africans.

Of course some of the reasons are spot on, but there is simply no agreement on why in a population of 60 million and with a significant number of the middle class, who can afford cars and a decent roof over their heads, plus such luxury as a satellite dish, books are not being bought as much as a bottle of whiskey the cheapest costing the price of a good book at R300. A bottle of Whiskey cannot even last two hours shared among two thirsty brothers, whereas a book remains on the book shelves for years after one has finished reading it, and can be shared intergenerational as part of a family heritage and collection.  The reason is elusive, but it is quite clear that a culture of reading for pleasure and not to pass examinations and test, is not part of our culture, and therefore literature is not as much valued as a bottle of whiskey or a fashion item.

It is for this reason that book events such as book fairs, book launches and special events are the only hope that that book traders hope will ignite that fire among the population to fall in love with the written word.

It is also for this reason that the country’s leading book seller Exclusive Books, has been running a company successfully in the past 19 years called Homebru. The company encourages book readers to consider buying and reading books by local writers, a very important factor as it is only when we buy books by local writers that the industry will grow and the writers will earn a living form their labour of love and our rich heritage of stories get immortalised and even get to be celebrated beyond the borders of South Africa. Luckily the country does not lack good writers for both fiction and non-fiction genres. In fact they are quite prolific irrespective of the limited number of book readers in the country with whom they have to share with international authors. In fact international authors of fiction actually outsell local fiction.  How is that even possible?

However for those dedicated book collectors and readers, they have every reasons to be excited because Exclusive Books’ Homebru is on again this year, and this is a special celebration because this innovative initiative has just turned 19. T mark that there are special discounts on certain books, and you have to look out for such specials in the coming weeks, starting on September 1, 2023, when Hombru kicks in at all Exclusive Books’ stores nationwide.

“In September, Heritage Month, Exclusive Books celebrates Homebru – That’s Home, Bru.  We all know the way a story begins. “Once upon a Time…” or maybe, “in a land far, far away”… 

Homebru ‘23 takes the classical book lines and injects them with South African flavour, using quintessential South African expressions and typical African visuals of our country to create ‘book covers’. The result is a fresh new way to start a story, once upon a now-now, once upon a dorpie, on a Plaas not so far away… 

When words, our words, can reframe the unique South African experience – good, bad and the ugly – giving it a unique and familiar flavour, That’s Home, Bru.  

Homebru is always a highlight of the Exclusive Books calendar. It gives us the opportunity to focus and celebrate homegrown written and published books, and shine the spotlight on South African writers and their writing, with no distractions, for a full month. 

The Homebru 2023 selection features 54 quintessentially South African books – South Africa captured in our unique words and way. History, fiction, biography, current affairs and business are all covered in the selection. Whatever bit of the South African literary landscape you would like to explore, it’s in this year’s Homebru – That’s Home, Bru,”says the book retail giant in a media release sent to CITYLIFE/ARTS this week.

But what kind of books are ain store for book lovers and which are this year’s Home Bru catalogue?

“Many of the books are self-reflective and critical, as they should be at this challenging time of our country’s trajectory – Sindiwe Magona’s I write the Yawning Void, Black Racist Bitch by Thandiwe Ntshinga and Nechama Brodie’s Domestic Terror all offer self-reflection, a better understanding of the issues and a way forward. 

Topical handbooks that give local, practical and inspiring advice include Handle Black Tax Like A Pro by Ndumi Hadebe and Winning the Property Game, by Koketso Milosevic. 

Motherhood and the role of mothers in society is under scrutiny in books like in Louisa Zondo’s Dearest MaRikyPrison Child by Felicia Goosen and The Girl Who Survived her Mother, by Moshitadi Lehlomela,”the retailer reveals.

Those who love fiction have every reaons to be excited too. 

“The range of fiction is deep and wide – from Lauren Beukes’s Bridge to Sunshine and Shadows by Busisekile Khumalo, Vernon Head’s On the Wave of Gulls to Eben Venter’s Decima, in English and Afrikaans.  And then biography that reads like fiction – The rollicking Daisy De Melker by Ted Botha is already flying off the shelves, and is as much about ragtime Joburg as it is about fascinating personalities.  

It’s a delight to include children’s books in this year’s selection of Homebru – the charming Zandi’s Song by Zandile Ndlovu for younger readers, some strong YA options and varied non-fiction – Riaan’s Manser’s My First Wild Island Adventure (also available in Afrikaans) and Jan Braai Junior which brings a South African icon to younger readers.  

We simply couldn’t celebrate Homebru in Heritage month without including some delicious choices in local cookery – Fatima Sydow’s Cape Malay Cooking, Karen Dudley’s Onwards and Feed my Tribe, by Mmule Setati are some titles served up at the Homebru table. 

We have the power to choose our stories, stories that will serve us now, and own them. Whether its understanding, inspiration or recipes we seek, Exclusive Books’ That’s Home, Bru is the perfect springboard.

EB Recommends for September also salutes locally written and produced books that are new to the shelves.

The non-fiction is particularly strong. Some highlights include: Painting a Life in Africa, by Joan van Gogh, a SouthAfrican artist whose grandfather was the cousin ofVincent Van Gogh; Conquer your Mountains, by Mandla Moyo – a 52-Week Biblical Journeyto unlock your full potential for life; A Small, Stubborn Town, the new Andrew Harding title – Life, death and defiance in Ukraine, the mesmerising story of how in the faceof a mighty army, ordinary people can say “No”. The selection wouldn’t be complete without tipping a hat to Rugby – The Fireside Springbok, by Mike Greenaway, with tales that begin in the 1890s and cover every era of Springbok history right up to the present day.

 Look out too for 3 books by Angela Makholwa on special price promotion in-store this month!

 Exclusive Books is one of South Africa’s largest bookselling chains with stores throughout South Africa, and one store in Gaborone, Botswana and in Namibia.

More on Exclusive Books

Exclusive Books are hosting real life book launches again Events – Exclusive Books.  or alternatively can follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ExclusiveBooks/ , Instagram https://www.instagram.com/exclusivebooks/ , Twitter http://www.twitter.com/exclusivebooks  or  www.exclusivebooks.co.za

Visit www.exclusivebooks.co.za for their new and improved gift voucher offering – beautiful templates for every occasion and the ability to personalise messages and time delivery.

Ways to order books from Exclusive Books include phone in, uber eats, instore of course and online via the website www.exclusivebooks.co.za  and delivery to your doorstep in 36 hours.(free delivery for order R450 and up).

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