(From Newsweek International August 29, 2005 issue)
The Whale Caller by Zakes Mda
Mda's fifth novel tells the story of the growing love between the whale caller, an old man whose kelp horn calls the migrating whales that bring tourists to South Africa's Western Cape, and Saluni, an aging woman who cadges drinks at the town taverns. An elusive allegory, it begins like an optimistic counterpoint to J. M. Coetzee's "Life & Times of Michael K." Mda's unemployed and uneducated heroes carve out a life of startling, almost magical beauty. But this land cannot break free of tragedy, whether the cause be Coetzee's torturers or Mda's tourists, politicians and hacks. It's a place where mercy comes to a beached whale (which may represent the nation) as 500 kilograms of dynamite.
Kiss & Tango: Looking for Love in Buenos Aires by Marina Palmer
In this smoldering new memoir, Palmer describes the tango as "the magic trick that transforms two bodies into one." She thoroughly explores the tango and sex connection, giving readers a brutally honest and often hilarious account of the three years she danced tango in the smoky milonga halls of Buenos Aires, and the long line of Latin lotharios she met along the way. Hollywood, take note: this love story could steam up the big screen.
Unfeeling by Ian Holding
This intense book is disturbing and gripping precisely because it is based largely on the current plight of white farmers in Zimbabwe. Davey Baker and his parents live on a large farm that has been passed down through the generations and that becomes a scene of violence and death. The book moves back and forth with agile precision from the events leading up to the parents' brutal murder to the aftermath of the tragedy that Davey must learn to accept. "Unfeeling" is one of the season's best books.
© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.