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Witsies share their holiday reading lists

- Buhle Zuma

What’s missing on your night table? Some must-reads for the festive season.

The holidays are upon us. With some free time on hand you can now catch up on all those titles you have always been dying to read. But where to start?

Wits Communications asked Witsies to share some of their favourite books and best-reads for downtime. The lists are as diverse as the people and interests of the Wits Community.

Veronica Klipp, publisher at Wits University Press

Veronica-Klipp's-reading list

  • The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. “Devastating and revealing of our colonial past, in retrospect it was an appropriate book to start this turbulent year with.”
  • Askari by Jacob Dlamini. “His skill lies in showing how our usual frames of reference can fall short when trying to make sense of our complex history.”
  • 101 Detectives by Ivan Vladislavic. “It can be read as attempts to come to grips with the sometimes banal mysteries of our contemporary lives, as in The Trunks: A complete history.”
  • Thrive by Arianne Huffington. “This a very enjoyable book about finding a work / life balance, especially for women, in a world obsessed with success, work and the constant intrusions of social media.”
  • “Books by German writer of Iranian origin, Navid Kermani, are highly recommended. He was awarded the Peace Price of the German book trade. His essays, novels and journalism focus largely on the interconnections between Europe and its immediate neighbour, the Middle Eastern region.”


Mpho Matsipa - architect, exhibition curator and lecturer in the School of Architecture and Planning

Mpho Matsipa's reading list

  • The God of Small Things by Aranduthi Roy. “Beautiful storytelling about post-colonial identity, caste and power. The author trained as an architect and this gives me hope that architects can engage meaningfully with larger social issue beyond technocratic approaches.”
  • Stars of the New Curfew by Ben Okri. “He pushes the limits of language to account for traumatic experiences and ruptured political-social landscapes.”
  • The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin. “A humorous perspective on polygamy that subverts many gender stereotypes.”
  • Planet Savage by Tuelo Gabonewe. “This is a quirky story about a precocious nine-year-old boy and his relationship to his parents. I enjoyed it because it disrupts romantic narratives about the traditional family form.”
  • Concubines and Power: Five Hundred Years in a Northern Nigerian Palace by Heidi Nast. “This is the only non-fiction book on my list. It provides rich insight into complex African states, power and the role of women in shifting patriarchal social structures.


Professor Dilip Menon, Director of the Centre for Indian Studies

Dilip Menon's reading list

  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. “Incredibly moving letters from an African American father to his adolescent son on growing up black in the US.”
  • Voices from Chernobyl: the oral history of a nuclear disaster by the 2015 Nobel Prize winner, Svetlana Alexievich. “Told with a unique intimate style of interviewing that makes for searing literature.”
  • A prehistory of the cloud by Tung-Hui Hu. “A reflection on the contemporary digital environment written in a lyrical and historically informed way.”
  • Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball by Haruki Murakami. “The first English publications of the earliest novels by this Japanese master: cool, urban characters and an exploration of relationships and technology.”
  • Stalin Paradoxes of Power 1878-1928, vol. 1 by Stephen Kotkin. “A much awaited biography by the greatest living authority on Stalin; great narrative and exhaustive research.”


Dr Boni Zungu, acting Head of African Languages in the School of School of Literature, Language and Media

Boni-Zungu's reading list 

  • Amagalelo by NG Sibiya (ed). “This is an anthology of short stories, essays and poems by different authors. It is suitable for both mother-tongue and non-mother tongue speakers of isiZulu.”
  • Igazi lezibi by ME Ngcobo. “A novel about an illegitimate child, rejected by his father, who has to donate blood in order to save the father’s live. It’s an interesting read for mother-tongue speakers of isiZulu.”
  • Uthando lungumanqoba by M Shange.  “A novelette about the struggle of an orphaned teenager who ends up in the streets of Durban, selling herself for survival. How does she overcome these challenges?”
  • Wathint’ imbokodo by NG Sibiya (ed). “An anthology of short stories dealing with different life challenges, from relationships to criminal acts.”