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QUICK REVIEW: Tokoloshe Song

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Karina Szczurek reviews two recent books with alternate realities.

TokolosheTokoloshe Song

Andrew Salomon

Umuzi

ISBN: 9781415207017

REVIEWER: Karina Szczurek

Just when he thought that his life is going to be all peace and quiet after giving up a career as a lawyer to restore old boats, Richard is called in for an emergency at the shelter for mistreated tokoloshes where he volunteers. There he meets Lun. After a false start, they become friends and embark on a roller-coaster adventure which takes them across the country to Nieu Bethesda and back in search of the grain of truth at the heart of an ancient myth. They receive assistance from Emily and Sindiwe, midwives of a secret order. Hot on their heels are a ruthless drug lord and a world-class assassin.

I’m not a fantasy fan, but I have enjoyed some of Salomon’s award-winning short fiction. Tokoloshe Song is his debut novel for adults and is as delightful and entertaining as his stories.

StationElevenHCUS2Station Eleven

Emily St. John Mandel

Picador

ISBN: 9780385353304

REVIEWER: Karina Szczurek

Within a short period of time a lethal flu wipes out 99% of the world’s population. Civilisation as we know it grinds to an abrupt halt. Station Eleven tells the story of a handful of survivors of the mayhem which ensues. At its centre is the resourceful Kirsten of the Travelling Symphony, a group of actors and musicians performing Shakespeare.

Spanning a few decades before and after the collapse, Mandel draws a bleak picture of humanity, but the darkness is penetrated by flashes of light and goodwill. Creativity, art, self-expression pave the way to society’s precarious rebirth as the individual characters realise how strongly the drive to be remembered is anchored within them. A thrilling page-turner which is simultaneously though-provoking and entertaining, Station Eleven is being deservedly compared to the likes of Margaret Atwood. This is speculative fiction at its best.

QUICK REVIEW: Yes Please

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Yes pYes Please

Amy Poehler

ISBN: 9780062268341

Picador

Karin Schimke

Reading this well-known American comedienne and actress’s “middle-of-the-road” autobiography is like being on a road trip with someone who is so much fun you can’t believe your luck. But it’s a longish road trip and every now and again you think you wonder if you can keep up the merriment. Then she says something so random, so funny and so oddly wisely that you think “What a lucky one I am to be on a road trip with Amy Poehler!”

If you’re a fan of Poehler’s wild improv, mad-cap comedy, her down-to-earth bordering-on-brassy personality, you’ll love Yes Please.

If you don’t know who she is, you’ll probably still like it. It’s nothing if not entertaining.

Poehler is self-deprecating, can laugh at herself and the world, and is not afraid to be vulnerable. Also, the book’s full of fascinating behind-the-scenes bits about famous people.

  • This review first appeared in the Cape Times in December 2014.