Hi everyone, it’s Sakhile. I’m a Zimbabwean living in South Africa. Thanks to Alienor for letting me be a part of the International Reader Guest Post Series.
The most accessible way for me to buy physical books in South Africa is second-hand book shops and Facebook groups. The shipping fee (Amazon) is expensive and although Book Depository doesn’t charge shipping to South Africa, you can wait up to 5 months to receive your books and even then, getting a refund for books that never show up is a hassle. Buying physical books in South African book stores isn’t ideal either, the prices are very expensive which is why I lean towards secondhand books.
I wouldn’t be the reader I am if it wasn’t for my mother, a teacher who brought home the Gingerbread Man and Enid Blyton books home and instilled the love for reading in her children. I’ve been a library member for as long as I can remember. My first memory of a library is a monthly book library that came to my primary school on a Wednesday; the first book I borrowed was about a girl who found a dragon egg.
ARCs: I recently started blogging properly so I haven’t requested any and I doubt that I will be requesting in the future.
Book events, authors and bloggers: I’ve attended the Jozi Book Fair a few times, something that happens once a year. Local and continental authors attend. I don’t think any international authors have ever attended which is a bummer because the closest I’ll ever get to having a signed book is entering a giveaway on social media.
The hardest thing to deal with in the book community is the assumption that after a few days of a book’s initial release, everyone has read it. More often than not, I have to wait a very, very, very long time before getting my hands on a newly released book. It’s watching everyone discuss a book you’re dying to read and trying to dodge spoilers. It’s feeling like if you’re not talking about the current “it” book your words are irrelevant.
I’m the bookworm amongst my friends; unfortunately none of them are big on reading. However, my sisters and I are all bookworms so I get to discuss books with them even though our favourite genres are very different. If it wasn’t for the twitter book community, I wouldn’t be aware of half the books that get published. There isn’t much of a YA book community in South Africa, if there is I don’t know about it.
The language of learning in South Africa (where I live) and Zimbabwe (where I’m from) is English so in a manner of speaking English is my first language but not my mother tongue or home language. I read in English and more often than not, I think in a mixture of Ndebele and English. Although there aren’t any international books by international authors that have been translated into any of the 100+ African languages, considering the fact that I read exclusively in English this does not affect my access to reading.
I don’t have a favourite book in my home language but my favourite book by a Zimbabwean author is Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions (and I’ll never forgive Lorraine for running away with my copy).
In conclusion, I’d like to say international readers exist and although the book community is aware of this, sometimes we are unknowingly excluded from conversation and participation. It is important to acknowledge the differences and difficulties international readers face when discussing issues within the book community.