South Africa these days may call itself the “Rainbow Nation,” but the society portrayed in The Lion Seeker (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28) is more like the smudged iridescence in a puddle of spilled engine oil. The characters in this ambitious historical saga by the Canadian-by-way-of-South-Africa debut novelist, Kenneth Bonert, inhabit a world of ruthlessly utilitarian choices; of simple practical necessities arising from, as well as perpetuating, the brutal prevailing social narrative of reflexive, unselfconscious racism, prejudice, and hate. Of course, there is also love and acceptance in this world, and the relationship between the red-haired, Lithuanian-born, Jewish “white” panel beater Isaac Helger and his fierce, scarred and secretive, but loving and indulgent mother, Gitelle, forms the center of the story. The action unfolds in the midst of South Africa’s mine-dust-covered slums and desolate veldt, her remote and struggling farms, and her palatial homes on manicured lawns, all narrated in a clear and straightforward, but tough and authentic vernacular.

The Lion Seeker Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780544334519
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Mariner Books - September 2nd, 2014

Darling, Bastard, Chipo, and their friends are the focus of NoViolet Bulawayo’s novel, We Need New Names (Reagan Arthur, $25). They spend their days in Paradise, a shantytown in Zimbabwe where people whose homes have been bulldozed by the government end up. Darling is just old enough to remember “before,” when things were normal—when her family had a TV and she didn’t have to steal guavas. The children are curious, bemused witnesses to a world gone mad, where even the adults have no real control or understanding of their circumstances and everyone is filled with an impotent rage. Eventually, we follow Darling to her aunt’s home in “Destroyed” (Detroit), Michigan, where she adapts, too easily in some ways and with great difficulty in others, to a place that will never really be home, and learns that abandoning one, however full of violence and despair it is, brings its own sense of loss.

We Need New Names: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316230810
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Reagan Arthur Books - May 21st, 2013

We Need New Names: A Novel Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780316230841
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Back Bay Books - May 20th, 2014

A collection of short stories set in both Nigeria and the United States, the stories are simultaneously dark and funny. The tone is straightforward and matter of fact, but the subject matter can be intense and fantastical. There are no O. Henry twists in the tale here, but no maddening New Yorker vagueness, either. Here is the story; deal with that.

Voice of America: Stories Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780061990878
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Harper Perennial - October 25th, 2011

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