BOOK BITES | Daniel Silva, The Gerald Kraak Anthology, Pete Portal

19 January 2020 - 00:00 By sunday times books

Published in the Sunday Times (19/01/2020)

The New Girl, The Heart of the Matter, The Neutral Ground.
The New Girl, The Heart of the Matter, The Neutral Ground.
Image: Supplied

The New Girl ****
Daniel Silva
HarperCollins, R305

The activities of Israeli spymaster Gabriel Alon skate close to geopolitical realities in this rip-roaring read from Silva. These days Alon has little time to restore artworks as he is the top spook and heads up Israel's ruthless intelligence service. The story starts with the kidnapping of the only child of the future king of Saudi Arabia, known as KBM and obviously modelled on real-life Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince known as MBS. Both are spoilt and impetuous and proclaim a reformist agenda. Both control vast wealth. Both were complicit in the murder of an outspoken critical journalist in a Saudi Arabian embassy. Alon agrees to help KBM. Politically, he aims to make a friend out of an historic enemy. The story takes off fast and never slows down, crossing countries and continents, religions and languages, Middle-Eastern history and politics at a dizzying pace. William Saunderson Meyer @TheJaundicedEye

The Heart of the Matter *****
The Gerald Kraak Anthology
Jacana Media, R240

Volume III of The Gerald Kraak Anthology showcases short fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction on gender, social justice and sexuality. Through an African prism, these pieces together provide a wide breadth of genres, styles and experimentation, including some wonderful speculative fiction. There is anger, sadness and mystified wonder as writers explore the body and how our physicality impacts both self and one's relationship to general society. A fascinating collection. Tiah Beautement @ms_tiahmarie

No Neutral Ground: Finding Jesus in a Cape Town Ghetto ****
Pete Portal
Hodder & Stoughton, R305

Manenberg in Cape Town is notorious for its crime, gang activities and rife drug wars. So establishing a church in the area was an unusual move. Pete Portal tells the reader how he built the church, with all its failures and successes. It's told in such a brutally honest way that even the most cynical reader will have to applaud his determination. In the Christian community the book has been credited as a showcase for the power of Jesus. Even if you aren't a believer, Portal's journey from London to a Manenberg gang world and his discovery of faith along the way is certainly worth the read. It shows that vision and determination can change lives. Jessica Levitt @jesslevitt