Cape Town

Cape Town, the Mother City. With deep roots as a safe harbor and waypoint for European traders rounding the African continent on the final leg to the East, modern Cape Town is an entrancing fusion of cultural influences, set in a Mediterranean climate and among some of the most gorgeous terrain in the world. Named the best place to live by the New York Times in 2014, the books most emblematic of Cape Town explore the complex social fabric of South Africa, while evoking the city's adventurous and diverse culture.

Memoir

Born A Crime

Trevor Noah

Though set primarily in Johannesburg -- with a number of chapters taking place in Cape Town -- Trevor Noah's memoir is a must-read for anyone venturing to South Africa. Noah manages to execute a difficult task to perfection: take anecdotes from a rough childhood and find the incredible mirth and love bound within them, while simultaneously conducting a deep examination of South African society during and immediately after apartheid. Moving, educational, and a true pleasure to read.

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Literary Fiction

Boyhood

JM Coetzee

A fictionalized memoir of Coetzee's early life in South Africa. An eloquent and personal story of growing up in an unnatural environment -- apartheid -- that by its nature evoked fundamental questions about society, values and other people. Part of a trilogy set largely in and around Cape Town. Brief, powerful, and despite the weighty issues it explores, enjoyable and difficult to put down.

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Literary Fiction

Disgrace

JM Coetzee

No list of South African fiction would be complete without a selection from Coetzee. This is a short novel that packs a tremendous punch: we follow a professor at a Cape Town university as he contends with the consequences of an action that extend far beyond what he had anticipated.

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History

The Cape Town Book

Nechama Brodie

A comprehensive and story-filled history of Cape Town, the Mother City -- if you pick it up, you'll find out why that's the city's nickname and more.

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Literary Fiction

The Woman Next Door

Yewande Omotoso

The story of a rivalry (perhaps more accurately, a tale of "frenemies") between two widows in a wealthy suburb of Cape Town, one white and one black. At intervals both humorous and heavy, The Woman Next Door is a beautiful study of two characters who begin to understand that they have more in common than they might otherwise believe.

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