BOOK BITES | Jo-Ann Bekker, Daisy Hernandez & Bushra Rehman, Stefan Ahnhem

A collection of short stories depicting a woman's life in SA, a new edition of 'Colonize This!' and a dramatic, wittily written Nordic noir - here's what we read this week

12 August 2019 - 10:38 By Sunday Times Books
'Asleep Awake Asleep', 'Colonize This!', 'Motive X'.
'Asleep Awake Asleep', 'Colonize This!', 'Motive X'.
Image: Supplied

Published in the Sunday Times (11/08/2019)

Asleep Awake Asleep ****
Jo-Ann Bekker
Modjadji, R200

A life is sketched out in the 39 short stories in Jo-Ann Bekker's collection. Together they draw a hazy portrait of SA from the '80s until the present, all the while depicting a woman's life - from the challenges of a career in journalism to navigating romantic relationships and the raw wounds of motherhood. It is a quiet study of the everyday amidst a country's turbulent politics, national events and natural disasters. A thoughtful read that gently bids you to continue turning the pages. Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

Colonize This! ****
Edited by Daisy Hernandez and Bushra Rehman
Hachette, R350

The first edition of this book was published in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks in the US. The editors say the second edition is in response to the US's political climate: the wave of deportations, the lack of empathy for the Black Lives Matter movement and the ongoing abuse of women. Through a series of brutally honest stories, women of colour describe what they have faced and overcome, and how they continue to battle divisions, marginalisation and religious and cultural persecution based on gender and colour.
A riveting read with stories so unique it feels like a new book each time you enter into another woman's world. Colonize This! does what books should do - present an alternative reality and broaden your thinking. Jessica Levitt @jesslevitt

Motive X  ****
Stefan Ahnhem
Head of Zeus, R335

A wave of violent murders unsettles the Swedish city of Helsingborg. A Syrian child is stuffed into a washing machine. When they cut him out of the drum, his body is twisted backwards, his spine a perfect circle with his legs bent the wrong way. A butcher has his throat slashed and a fork stuck into his face. A woman dies a horrible death after being injected with ricin; a tattoo on her pubic mound shows a cryptic symbol associated with an orgiastic sex club. The cops are running in circles, their hands already full with a resurgence of race-based crimes. And investigator Fabian Risk has his own problems. His daughter has been shot, and he suspects his son's involvement in the death of homeless people in Denmark. More terrifying is his growing suspicion that one of his colleagues is a murderer and he might be next on the hit list. Motive X is packed with dramatic detail and brilliant vignettes, while Ahnhem's dry and witty tone runs through the narrative. Gabriella Bekes