Amabookabooka: The Quarantine Chronicles

TIMESLIVE PODCASTS  |  Podcast , ±19 min episodes every 2 days  |  Broadcast schedule  | 
Amabookabooka travels into the heart of the lockdown to bring you interviews with SA's finest authors.

Quick and quirky interviews with authors via zoom -21 authors in 21 days.

A novel podcast about books and the people who write them.

Subscribe to this channel

You can subscribe to new audio episodes published on this channel. You can follow updates using the channel's RSS feed, or via other audio platforms you may already be using.

RSS Feed

You can use any RSS feed reader to follow updates, even your browser. We recommend using an application dedicated to listening podcasts for the best experience. iOS users can look at Overcast or Castro. Pocket Casts is also very popular and has both iOS and Android versions. Add the above link to the application to follow this podcast channel.

This channel is available for listening in the Pocket Casts web player, or via the iOS and Android Pocket Casts applications. Follow the above link to listen on Pocket Casts.

Pocket Casts

This channel is available for listening in the Pocket Casts web player, or via the iOS and Android Pocket Casts applications. Follow the above link to listen on Pocket Casts.


This channel is available on Spotify. Follow the link above to view episodes on Spotify.

Signup to

Sign up for a free user account to start building your playlist of podcast channels. You'll be able to build a personalised RSS feed you can follow or listen with our web player.

EP26: One Whale of a Good Yarn

The subject of today’s episode of Amabookabooka is ‘A Poor Season For Whales’, which is not the title of a sports book about the Welsh rugby team’s miserable 1991 year when they were walloped 63-3 by the Wallabies. ‘A Poor Season For Whales’ (with an H) is author, translator and English professor Michiel Heyns’ outstanding new novel.

The book has everything: vivid imagery, beautiful descriptions, fascinating characters, gripping dialogue, understated humour, an intriguing plot, a sharp knife hanging over it and a dassie-chasing Doberman named Benjy. (Michiel reveals why every one of his novels features a dog…)

EP25: Bruce Almighty

Some would say it is dreadful timing to launch a book at the same time that Covid-19 has decided to go hitchhiking around the globe, but for one book - The Upside of Down - the timing is spot on. The world is upside down and the Upside of Down highlights opportunities during chaos.

The Upside of Down is written by the king of the business airwaves Bruce Whitfield, who has the incredibly rare gift of making complex financial issues easy to understand. Through absorbing anecdotes, cautionary tales, some multiple choice quizzes or six, Bruce tells us that South Africa has extraordinary problems - but with extraordinary problems come extraordinary opportunities.

In this episode of Amabookabooka, Bruce reveals the four words that Nando’s chief Robbie Brozin told him that perfectly sum up the state of the world right now.

EP24: A Lockdown Mystery

Heinrich Böhmke loves trees, bees, wind over the veld and Nguni cattle - and even though he loves cattle he’s not scared to stomp all over sacred cows. Heinrich’s debut novel Sarie tells the story of four lives in crisis - on the same day. In the same hotel. It mixes South African politics and history, with a thrilling plot and, as one reviewer put it: There is no chill with this book!

Heinrich’s latest book, The Helpless Lady, is a world away from Sarie. It’s a children’s book set in the Lockdown. Day 17 starts off just like any other boring Lockdown day but turns into a day of mystery and adventure when 9-year-old Erika sees a desperate message for help in her neighbour's window. Erika’s grumpy dad is busy so she takes matters into her own hands to rescue her elderly neighbour - all while keeping her social distance. It’s a fast, heart-warming story told with humour and there are a few twists at the end to keep you on your toes.

EP23: Seven weeks in captivity

Thirty years ago today the Muller family's dream holiday turned into a nightmare when they were taken hostage by a band of child soldiers in Mozambique. On Friday the 13th of April 1990 Dave Muller and his family set sail to Mozambique to fulfill Dave's boyhood dream of voyaging to the tropics. On board his yacht Arwen, which he had spent the previous 10 years building, was his wife, Sandy, and their two children 8-year-old Tammy, and Seth, who was about to turn 5. But Friday the 13th turned out to be a bad omen. Fifteen days later, Dave’s voyage came to a shuddering halt when his yacht was shipwrecked and they were taken prison by armed children from the Mozambican rebel group Renamo. It took Dave 29 years to write his memoir, This is not Child’s Play, which was published last year and documents the Muller family’s nightmare. Today - 28 April 2020 - marks the 30th anniversary of the day the family was taken captive.

This is not Child’s Play is a story of hope and, eventually, freedom!

After 33 days of lockdown, we could all use a bit of hope ... and some Stage 4 freedom.

EP22: Low Down on Health Horror

Today’s episode of Amabookabooka is a throwback to 2017 when novelist, journalist and public health activist Marcus Low coughed up the incredible and, as it turns out, very credible dystopian health-horror novel Asylum. A high-security quarantine facility has been set up in the Karoo for people with a highly infectious lung disease known as “pulmonary nodulosis” - there is no cure. The inmates have been separated from the rest of the country - where they do nothing much but wait to die.

Asylum is like an uncooked onion: raw with layers upon layers and will make you cry. It is a thought-provoking and superbly written book that will do to you what a fictional South African government did to the novel’s protagonist Barry James – hold you captive.

EP21: Celebrating the Joy of Matt

Today is a very special edition of Amabookabooka. We pay tribute to and celebrate the life of Matthew Buckland - a tech wonder kid, a digital fundi, an entrepreneur, an innovator, a journalist, a publisher, an author, a mountain biker and a compulsive dreamer who had big dreams. Matt always had a sparkle in his eye and a million-buck grin.

In the middle of 2018 Matt was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. On the day of his first chemo session in October he started to write a book about his entrepreneurial journey. Two months later he sent the manuscript to his publisher. Matt died on 23 April last year shortly before his book So You Want to Build a Startup was published.

He was just 44. We chat to Matt’s dad, Andrew Buckland, and good friend Vince Maher about Matt's extraordinary life.

EP20: Lauren Beukes imagines a brand new world

Lauren Beukes crisscrosses literary genres to write ground-breaking weird-and-wonderful dystopian thrillers. Her novels - Moxyland, Zoo City, The Shining Girls, Broken Monsters - are beautifully written, with complex characters and intriguing pulse-racing plots and plots within plots that are skillfully knitted together.

Lauren also writes comics and screen plays, directed the documentary Glitterboys & Ganglands, and wrote the New York Times bestselling graphic novel Fairest: The Hidden Kingdom. Academics study her work, fans name their pets and children after her characters and she has won prestigious literary honours. She has received endorsements from Stephen King, shout outs from George RR Martin and big-ups from Neil Gaiman.

Lauren is the Trevor Noah of the literary horror-sci-fi-spec-fic-cyberpunk-fantasy- psych-thriller-dystopian world. And now Afterland, her spanking new novel about a global pandemic has come out slap-bang in the middle of a global pandemic.

EP19: Shining, Shimmering, Schimmel

Gail Schimmel writes best-selling novels that have more twists and turns than Kyalami: Marriage Vows, Whatever Happened to the Cowley Twins?, The Park; and The Accident.

Her most recent novel, the two week-old Two Months is a psychological thriller. Primary school teacher Erica and her husband Kenneth have a great life: Erica loves her job, loves her husband but one morning she wakes up and has forgotten the last two months of her life.

She begins to piece together what has happened with terrible consequences. You will probably laugh and maybe even cry as the story unfolds but you will certainly gasp when it ends…

EP18: Iqbal Survé and mountain bikes

Today’s Amabookabooka guest has written two very different books - On Your Bike, which is a guide to mountain biking in South Africa. The second is Paper Tiger: Iqbal Survé and the downfall of Independent Newspapers, which is a riveting account of what happened to the Cape Times when it was taken over by the controversial businessman.

Chris Whitfield, who wrote On Your Bike with his brother Tim, is an accomplished mountain biker with four Cape Epic Finisher’s T-shirts hanging in his cupboard. He wrote Paper Tiger with Alide Dasnois, the erstwhile editor of the Cape Times who was fired by Survé the morning after Nelson Mandela died. Chris, who was the most senior editorial person in Independent when it was taken over by Survé, had a front-row seat to the unfolding drama.

EP17: Confronting the ghosts of war

Paul Morris went to Angola in 1987. He was a young soldier who had been conscripted into the South African Defence Force as it waged a brutal bush war against its neighbours. For 25 years Angola was the country of Paul’s nightmares. He returned to the country in 2012 - this time he wasn’t a 20-year-old soldier in an army’s armoured buffel; he was a middle-aged man on a bicycle.

He cycled 1500km across the country to witness Angola in peacetime; to enjoy the beauty of the bush and to meet the people who live there. One of the people he met was Roberto, a Cuban, who had been fighting in Angola against the apartheid army - the meeting with Roberto was the most profound moment of Paul’s life.

In Back to Angola, Paul's memoir published in 2014, he writes about a journey that took him back into the past as well as into the present.

EP16: Penny’s mightier with her words

Penny Haw grew up on a dairy farm in KwaZulu-Natal - she spent her childhood with cows and stories about Nicko - the abandoned vervet monkey that was rescued and raised by her grandmother Alice Kirk. The monkey became an essential member of the farmyard, befriending dogs, cats, African polecats, and a duiker.

In 2017 Penny wrote Nicko – The Tale of a Vervet Monkey on an African Farm. The book for tweens is a series of hilarious, heart-warming and sometimes heart-wrenching adventures and misadventures and his friends get up to.

EP15: Lindiwe Hani reflects on her revolutionary father

Today marks the 27th anniversary of the assassination of Chris Hani. It was a watershed moment in South Africa and anyone who is old enough remembers where they were when they heard the devastating news. For many the revered revolutionary was the president we never had. But 12-year-old Lindiwe Hani hadn’t lost the head of the SA Communist Party; it was her daddy who had been cruelly taken away from her.

Tragedy after tragedy followed for Lindiwe - an abortion, the death of her boyfriend, the death of her sister, sending the troubled Lindiwe into a fog of cocaine and booze until she smashed into rock bottom. In 2014, Lindiwe entered rehab and became sober. In 2017 she penned her remarkable memoir Being Chris Hani’s Daughter, baring her soul and revealing the details of her descent into addiction and the hard road to recovery and redemption.

People often wonder what South Africa would be like if Chris Hani hadn’t been killed - it’s an impossible question and while we can speculate, we don’t know. What we do know, though, is that Chris Hani would have been extremely proud of his courageous daughter.

26 episodes

« Back 1—12 More »