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13. #womenwriters #readwomen Gail Dendy recommends…

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The sheer genius of her insightfulness, her impeccable humour, and the mastery of the novel’s construction are some of the reasons I re-read it again and again. It never loses its freshness, immediacy and delight. ‘
Gail DendyGail Dendy’s seventh poetry collection Closer Than That was published in 2011 (Dye Hard Press).
Follow Gail on Facebook: Gail Dendy
Gail Dendy, author of seven collections of poetry, was first published in the UK by Harold Pinter. She won the SA PEN Millennium play-writing competition and since then has been a finalist, shortlisted or long-listed in several competitions for poetry, short stories and, most recently, an unpublished debut novel.

12. #womenwriters #readwomen Patricia Schonstein recommends…

‘I have three favourite books written by women:

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Each of these made a tremendous impression on me when I first read them for the way they deal with human relationships; the way they capture pathos, joy, despair and triumph. I have re-read them a number of times and never fail to be touched.’
Patricia is currently writing a new novel that is not quite ready for submission:
The Inn at Helsvlakte
The Inn at Helsvlakte is a gothic love story and mythologised tragedy. It is set within an incestuous and complex set of lives that are bound by secrets and lies, betrayals and loyalties, sweetness and catastrophe. It tells the story of a young man seeking revenge for harm done to his family by renegade soldiers. He joins ranks with a former military Captain, an innkeeper and the innkeeper’s wife to tussle the ghosts of truth trapped on the landscape of a former ambush site.

patricia-schonsteinFollow Patricia on twitter: @schonstein
Or Facebook: Patricia Schonstein
Patricia Schonstein is an internationally published, critically acclaimed novelist and poet. She curates the Africa! Poetry anthologies and the McGregor Poetry Festival anthologies.
More about Patricia can be found on her website:

11. #readwomen #womenwriters Colleen Higgs recommends…

‘Sharon Olds Stag’s Leap. Poems about divorce, close examination of herself, loss, her marriage, what happened. Moving, loving, hopeful and devastating all at once.’
Lava LampColleen’s latest poetry collection Lava Lamp Poems was published by Hands On Books in 2010
Follow Colleen on twitter: @modjaji_bks
Or Facebook:
Colleen Higgs has published poetry and short stories, and her work has been included in several anthologies. She is a small publisher herself (Modjaji Books) and has enabled many Southern African women to get their work into print. She is also the editor and compiler of Small Publishers’ Catalogue 2010 and 2013
More about Colleen can be found on her blog:

10. #womenwriters #readwomen Annette Snyckers recommends…

‘A book that made a profound impression on me is AGAAT by Marlene van Niekerk (translated from Afrikaans by Michiel Heyns). I found this to be an important book, especially for women living in South Africa. It deeply immerses the reader in the lives, minds and struggles of two women who are dependent on one another in convoluted ways. Both these inner landscapes as well as the actual South African landscape mesh to create a vivid and often lyrical experience. Marlene van Niekerk is also an award-winning poet. I was mesmerised and moved by her use of language.

I would also recommend SAVAGE BEAUTY by Nancy Milford — it takes us right into the dramatic life of the American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay and explores her creative process.’

Annette Snycker’s studies have explored two streams of the humanities – Languages and Literature (English, French and German) and Fine Art. She enjoys both these disciplines as she is active as a poet and a painter. Annette’s poems have appeared in various South African journals and anthologies. One of her poems can be read here: Doves

9. #womenwriters #readwomen Cornelia Rohde recommends…

‘I like Leila Aboulela’s writing very much, particularly Lyrics Alley. When I heard her speak at the Jaipur Literary Festival several years ago, I was struck by her saying she started writing because she wanted to keep the culture of Sudan and her Islamic faith alive in a vivid, human way for her children, because they were growing up in the UK. I think she not only succeeds for her children, but for the rest of us as well. Her books are lyrical, honest, sensitive and portray our common humanity.

Here Aboulela describes of her own fiction:

“I write fiction that reflects Islamic logic; fictional worlds where cause and effect are governed by Muslim rational. However, my characters do not necessarily behave as ‘good’ Muslims; they are not ideals or role models. They are, as I see them to be, flawed characters trying to practice their faith or make sense of God’s will, in difficult circumstances.”’


cornelia-rohdeCornelia Rohde was raised in Ohio and educated in Massachusetts. Since 1968 she has lived in Bangladesh, India, Haiti and South Africa. She currently migrates between Cape Town and Spanish Wells in the Bahamas. Her poetry appears online and in a number of journals and anthologies.

Cornelia’s memoir Catalyst: In the Wake of the Great Bhola Cyclone was written as a group memoir mainly for the participants in the cyclone initiative she was part of in 1970. The book has generated interest in Bangladesh as part of their history and a reprint edition is expected to be on the shelves shortly in Dhaka, published by the director of the Liberation War Museum.

8. #womenwriters #readwomen Lise Day recommends…

SolnitThe Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit: this is a book about story-telling. Solnit’s stories and anecdotes range from Buddhism to the Iceland ‘Library of Water’ to Che Guevara. These tales are loosely bound by her own story of dealing with her mother’s Alzheimers and a heap of rotting apricots from her mother’s tree.’

Follow Lise on twitter @yadesil

or Facebook: Lise Day

Lise Day has recently retired to Hout Bay after forty years of teaching English, most recently at the Nelson Mandela University. She is a member of the ‘Pleached Poetry’ writing circle and regularly attends and enjoys workshops with Finuala Dowling. Her short stories have been published in the English National Curriculum text book and in periodicals and books. She has had poems published in Carapace, two editions of the Sol Plaatje Anthology, New Contrast and on line in Aerodrome.


Week One #readwomen #womenwriters

Over the past week I have posted seven blogs with recommended reads from South African women writers (with the exception of Amanda Foster who sparked the idea for this series of blogs).

This is a summary of what has been recommended so far:

Week One


A list of these books has been created on Goodreads: Recommended Reads by South African Women Writers August 2015


I will also create a list with the latest book of the recommending women writers but not all of the books are yet on Goodreads – I am importing them. As soon as this list is created I will post a link.


Both lists will be updated on a weekly basis.


I will be posting a blog a day over the next three weeks with further recommended reads. (Except for tomorrow when I will be taking a rest).

7. #womenwriters #readwomen Henali Kuit recommends…

Faces in the crowFaces in the crowdd by Valeria Luiselli. Luiselli is Mexican and spent some of her childhood in South Africa. Her novel is about the entangled lives of an author, poet and translator. It is a beautiful exploration of how the views we have of ourselves in an engendered world come out in language.’


Follow Henalie at @HenaliKuit


Henali Kuit writes short fiction. Her stories and poems have appeared in South African Journals. Henalie recently completed her MA in Creative Writing at Rhodes.

6. #womenwriters #readwomen Christine Coates recommends…

‘Virginia Woolf A Room of One’s Own — this book got me journaling seriously and writing to find out what I wanted to do with my life. It also made me realise I needed to find my own space and a place within a demanding and busy family. Virginia Woolf made me realise I needed to kill ‘the Angel in the House’, the idealized ideas of wife and motherhood. It took a long time.’


Homegrown-cover-320x480Christine’s debut poetry collection Homegrown was published in 2014 by Modjaji Books


Follow Christine on Facebook: Christine Coates
or twitter: @promerops


Christine Coates is a poet, writer and art-maker from Cape Town. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town. She has an interest in life-writing or memoir, and the recovery of personal history through public and private imagery.


More about Christine can be found on her Bookslive blog:

5. #womenwriters #readwomen Margaret Clough recommends…

‘Two books I read recently that I couldn’t put down:

1. The Fetch by Finuala Dowling. The place called Slangkop and its inhabitants are so well depicted you feel as though you know all the characters and are actually living in this little seaside town.

2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. This is the most exciting suspense novel that I have read for years. It does not depend on violence and fast action but is full of mystery and psychological drama. I was confronted with surprise on almost every page.’


Margaret Clough is a widow. She has lived in Zambia and in the Southern Cape, but retired to Cape Town several years ago. Margaret has only been writing poetry for about eight years. Previously she worked as a Science teacher and a Soil Chemist. Margaret has three daughters and eight grandchildren.


Margaret’s  latest poetry collection is The Last to leave published by Modjaji Books. More about  Margaret can be found on her Facebook page: and on her blog: