Category Archives: South African Literature

Debbie Calitz’s 20 Months in Hostage Hell

Yesterday I read an extract, in the YOU Magazine, from 20 Months in Hostage Hell, the book written by Debbie Calitz, and co-written by Ulrike Hill.

Debbie reveals the details of their capture by Somali pirates, their 20 months in hostage hell and their eventual rescue. It is a story of overwhelming courage from a woman who overcame all odds when freedom and dignity were a distant memory.

When Debbie and her partner Bruno set sail from Dar es Salaam in October 2010, they could never have guessed that they would be making a voyage into the depths of hell. Three days into their journey as crew on board the yacht Choizel, the yacht was captured by Somali pirates who held them ransom. For twenty months the pair were made to live in dark rooms while they were moved countless times between different locations and captors who subjected them to untold horrors. Yet Debbie’s spiritual awareness, her sense of humanity and, ironically, her past history of being the victim of abuse, helped her to stay alive as she remained positive in the belief that she and Bruno would be rescued.

The book is available in English and Afrikaans, published by Penguin Books.

The recommended retail price for both books is R220 each.  I Love Books’ price is R200 each, a saving of R20.  Email me on if you would like to buy a copy (free delivery anywhere in South Africa).

20 Months in Hostage Hell – ISBN 9780143530589

20 Maande in Gyselaarshel – ISBN 9780143530596

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The Chuck Norris of Television News retires …

Riaan Cruywagen will be reading the news tonight, on SABC 2, for the very last time. After 37 years, and more than 7000 television broadcasts, he now looks forward to ‘quietly reading the newspapers and magazines during the day, and to rather read a book than a newspaper.’

He presented his first news bulletin on 26 November 1975 at 20h00, and still remembers the first story he read on that night – the sentencing of Breyten Breytenbach to nine years in jail.

His autobiography ‘Wat’s Nuus?’ and ‘What’s News?’ was published by Naledi earlier this year.

I used to dread seeing Riaan’s face on TV as a child, because that always meant bedtime. When I finally met him, he was exactly how I hoped he would be. Iconic, credible and down to earth. His life story is a must-read for every South African.

Darren “Wackhead” Simpson

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Rat Roads by Jacques Pauw

Rat Roads Jacques Pauw


Jacques Pauw’s new book, Rat Roads, really does sound extraordinary!

It chronicles the journey of Kennedy Gihana – a young Tutsi man who survived the genocide in Rwanda, committed horrifying atrocities in Africa’s bloodiest civil war and walked thousands of kilometres to South Africa, where he slept in parks, lived on the streets and worked as a low-paid security guard until he had saved enough money to enrol for a law degree.

In 2011 Kennedy took the podium at the University of Pretoria to receive a master’s degree in law.

How’s that for courage, triumph and overcoming adversity?

Rat Roads combines many strands of what life in Africa, and South Africa, is like for a large proportion of people. Besides being the chronicle of one man’s unforgettable journey, it addresses topical issues such as civil conflict, xenophobia and the plight of refugees, and will open people’s eyes to the reality of life on the streets.

The Rat Roads Facebook page link is!/RatRoadsBook

And while on the subject of Jacques Pauw, have you read his book Little Ice Cream Boy?  It is a novelisation on the life of Ferdi Barnard, a former CCB operative.  Highly recommended! You can read more about the book here –


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Killing for Profit – Julian Rademeyer


Killing for Profit by Julian Rademeyer

Killing for Profit is a terrifying true story of greed, corruption, depravity and ruthless criminal enterprise.

On the black markets of Southeast Asia, rhino horn is worth more than gold, cocaine and heroin. This is the compelling story of a two year long investigation into a dangerous criminal underworld. It is a tale of greed, folly and corruption, and of an increasingly desperate battle to save the rhino – which has existed for more than 50-million years – from extinction.

Written by award-winning investigative journalist Julian Rademeyer, Killing for Profit is a meticulous, devastating and revelatory account of one of the world’s most secretive trades. It exposes poachers, scoundrels, gangsters, conmen, mercenaries, killers, gun-runners, diplomats, government officials and crime bosses behind the slaughter. And it follows the bloody trail from the frontlines of the rhino wars in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to the medicine markets of Vietnam and the lair of a wildlife-trafficking kingpin on the banks of the Mekong River in Laos …

You can like the Killing for Profit Facebook page here:

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Cowboy Chow – Justin Bonello’s Ultimate Braai Master

Cowboy Chow Recipe - Ultimate Braai Recipe

COWBOY CHOW RECIPE from Justin Bonello’s Ultimate Braai Master

Heat a skillet or non-stick pan on medium to hot coals, add a splash of olive oil, then fry the sausages, bacon, onion and mushrooms. Add the tomatoes and beans when the meat is almost cooked. As soon as everything is simmering nicely, make eight little hollows in the contents of the pan and crack an egg into each. Sprinkle the chopped chilli and garlic over the top, cover with foil and cook over low coals until the eggs are to your liking. Grab some toasted bruschetta, gather your friends around the fire and let them scoop the eggy chow out of the pan with the bread. Best part of this dish? You’ll have no plates to wash afterwards, because even the pan should be licked clean.

This will feed about 4 to 6 friends. 

You’ll need:

• a splash of olive oil

• 8 free range pork sausages – kept whole

• 1 packet of free range streaky bacon – chopped

• 1 onion, chopped finely

• 1 packet of mushrooms – use your favourite kind

• 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes

• 1 tin of good ol’ baked beans

• 8 free range eggs

• 3 chillies – chopped, seeds removed

• 2 cloves of garlic – finely chopped

Bertus calls this Mexican Eggs, but when I made it I felt like a cowboy . . . must be something to do with the beans. This is the perfect pick-me-up breakfast after sitting around the camp fire with your friends until the wee hours of the morning. It’s hearty, packed to the brim with bacon and sausage and will help any cowboy (or girl) get back on their horse.

Thank you to Penguin Books for supplying me with this recipe –


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Justin Bonello’s Ultimate Braai Master

justin bonello's ultimate braai master




I have just received my copy of Justin Bonello’s Ultimate Braai Master and it’s a feast for the eyes, and not too good to look through if you skipped lunch.

In Justin’s introduction, and this is so true, he says:

‘In every group of friends across the length and breadth of South Africa there is always one Braai Master, that girl or guy that we trust to hold the tongs and create memories around a fire.  Problem is, in that circle of friends, we rarely get any new blood with new ideas so, year in and year out, rain or shine, we braai the same lamb chops, the same chook and use the same tricks of the trade.  Our braai universe has remained unchanged … until now.’

The braai universe has certainly opened up with this cook book, and I’m definitely going to give the Apple Tart, on page 29, a try.

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Marguerite Poland’s Taken Captive by Birds

taken captive by birds

‘All my life I have been ‘taken captive by birds’.

Their doings are the thread that runs through childhood, the link to people and to place.

Their appearance and their presence can at once recall a name, a scent, a morning full of song and exploration; an evening sorrow, a childhood fear.

For, somehow, it is the birds that saw it all: those unobtrusive harbingers whose boundaries are defined by other laws than ours but whose ancient lore remains a cipher to remembrance for me.’

Marguerite Poland

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