just a bicycle-ride away

Today a week ago I hopped on my bicycle and headed south. That is the shortest route to the nearest secondhandshop. There is a fair section with secondhandbooks. Once a while I move south to discover “new” books. I had a good harvest of books discarded by others, my moment of recycling had arrived. I purchased 11 books for the princely sum of €16.50. Just let me share with you the harvest I brought home on my bicycle.


The first book is written by Fransje van Riel and the English title is “The crowing of the Roosters”(2004). In this book she tells the story of Nomfusi Vinah Yekani, a Xhosa-woman from South Africa.

The second book also comes from South Africa. Written by Etienne van Heerden. The orginal Afrikaner title is “Die swye van Mario Salviati”. The story has as its main character the village of Jaarendag. Mario Salviati is an Italian prisoner of war of the second world war, who is send to this village in the Karoo. Van Heerden received several prizes for this book.  



Julia Samuël worked for Dutch televison as a presenter. But she left the job. It was discovered she had breastcancer. She makes a radical shift in her life and she moves to South Africa to join the fight against malaria. She told her story to Elise G. Lengkeek and they turned it into a book “Niemand weet waar ik ben” (2009). 




   I read one book by José Eduardo Agualusa and I found it to be a hard book to understand, but I took too much time to go from the first page to the last. Now I bought his “Creole” (2002). It is the story of Fradique Mendes from Portugal, who travels in the second half of the 19th century to Angolo and Brazil and who falls in love with the most beautiful woman in the world. 



Sembène Ousmane (1932) has written many books. This one “Le docker noir” was published in 1956. A Dutch translation followed in 1985. Diaw Falla is a Senegalese dockworker in the French harbour Marseille. Work is hard and he dreams about writing a book and he makes a start. Set in the 1950s  it shows the attitude towards people from French colonies. Ousmane was a dockworker himself in Marseille.



Does she need any introduction? Nadine Gordimer from South Africa who passed away recently. This her book “None to accompany me” (1994). The book is about two couples on their way to majority rule. One couple is white, the other couple is black. The book shows the changing tides in South Africa.





20140801_154120 The first time she travelled to West Africa was in 1893. By then Mary Kingsley had reached the age of 31. In 1894-5 she made her second journey. Her travelogue was published in 1897. This edition is shortened and introduced by Elspeth Huxley. The original title of the book was “Travels in West Africa”.




20140801_154039 I found another book by Ousmane. A very thin book, titled “Niiwam”. First published in 1987 in “Niiwam suivi de Taaw”.  At home I discovered that this book, in the very same edition, was already on one of my shelves. So I put this copy in the box with thirdhand books to be given away. 





This another one by Nadine Gordimer.

In 1979 she published her “Burgers 20140801_154055Daughter”. This could well be one of her most crucial books. Rosa Burger is on the search for meaning and memories as her father died in prison. What will her commitment be in her South Africa? 






20140801_154027 I swapped this copy with the Dutch translation I had and put that one in the same box as the book by Ousmane.

In hectic days a liberal white family is saved by their servant, July. This leads to a different relationship between servant and master. The master now depends on the servant. This “July’s people” (1981).




20140801_154010 Let me finish with Nuruddin Farah, the Somali writer. I have quite a few of his titles on my shelves, but I have not read anyone of them. Should there be shame upon me?  His “Maps” was published in 1986. The main character of this book is Askar, his father died in the Somali civil war. Misra (not a Somali) takes care of him. But what happens to her when Askar returns, many years later, as a freedomfighter? 

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I enjoy reading about Africa. New books. Old books. By African writers. By non-African writers. Novel. History. Travel. Biographies. Autobiographies. Politics. Colonialism. Poetry.

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