Authors Showcase: Making You Laugh & Cry

The Book: When the Siren Calls

The Author: Tom Barry

The Story: Restless and neglected Isobel is suffocating in a stagnant marriage. Suave and charismatic Jay is fighting for survival. When Jay rescues Isobel from a Marrakech mob, both sense opportunity, and an invitation from Jay to visit his resort in the hills of Tuscany sparks Isobel to imagine a life of freedom and excitement.

This “Prequel” version is a stand alone short story, but also a trailer and teaser for the upcoming full release, in which Isobel pursues Jay to Tuscany, where her imaginings of a cinematic love affair crash into a nightmare of intrigue, deception and betrayal.

When the Siren Calls – Prequel is a smart, sensual, romantic drama with the suspense of a Grisham thriller, where there are twists to keep you guessing, and surprises at every turn. The story cleverly intertwines a love triangle with a fascinating sub-plot of business intrigue, as the headstrong heroine goes from one reckless action to another.

This is a must read for those who like well-written, upmarket suspense, around complex adult relationships, with generous dollops of dry humour that amuse as well as delight.

Review by Linda Connell: This is 
a high-octane suspense story and a roller coaster of a ride as the headstrong heroine goes from one crisis to another. And a dashing stranger to lead her into mischief. Think Lady Chatterley meets Christian Grey. Or Audrey Hepburn meets Gordon Gekko. But this is no romantic comedy. It is high tension and suspense from the opening line, with innocence thrown amongst the devious. The characters are real and believable,

I was really sucked in, rooting for Isobel from the start. Somewhat surprisingly, the author brings the characters and scenes to life, while leaving much to the imagination. We learn more as we move along, with backstory cleverly drip fed on a need to know basis.

By the time the author tells us what we need to know about the characters, we care enough to want to know. Sexual tension lurks on every page but there are real moments of humour, and some great one liners.

Review by Harriet Schultz: Tom Barry has created a fascinating story with an intriguing female lead. He’s done an excellent job of hooking this reader with a taste of what’s to come in the novel. Men sometimes have trouble writing from a woman’s point of view, but he’s captured Isobel’s frustration and longing for “more” perfectly.

The Book: Smoke of Forgiveness

The Author: Nelson Makhubane Tshabalala

The Story: Smoke Of Forgiveness is a novel set against the flow of history from apartheid South Africa to the current day.  It attempts to touch on every aspect of moral choice where the nation still stands divided today in its thinking.

It lays bare the anguish evoked by atrocities committed against rural farm-workers where beatings and rape were used as punishment and callous disregard for human life by institutions, like when a father dies in a mining disaster.  It sweeps across so many excruciating human experiences, love across the ‘colour-line’, raw racism, suicide, double standards, unfaithfulness in relationships, a response to homosexuality, poverty, homelessness and above all, the true historic events that unfolded in South Africa in the past four decades to date.

Further, this book acknowledges the positive role played by several Christian Groups in furthering the education of previously disadvantaged people, the belief in the role of the ancestors and the need to guard against African Spirituality being watered down by Christianity.

Cognizance should be taken that Smoke Of Forgiveness also speaks to the hope of reconciliation and the ability of perpetrators to see the error of their ways and change.  It’s a sincere attempt to set the stage for South Africa emerging from the baggage of the past, and this book addresses the issues that are envisaged to bring about real change in the future, which include among other things; a Truth and Reconciliation Commission concept that could still do so much more.

Smoke Of Forgiveness encourages a call to awaken an entrepreneurial spirit that will take the economy of South Africa whether formal and informal to new levels to meet current challenges as well as a call to generosity on the part of those who succeed so they can ‘give back’ to the needy.  Lastly, this novel is an inspirational novel with key ideas communicated, at one point, through the device of the main character doing a motivational speaking tour.

Two months and two weeks since this novel was published, the Germany Cultural Institute called Goethe Institute had contacted the author to discuss the inclusion of this novel for the ‘2012 New South African Voices – Beyond The Cities – The Platteland in South African Literature’.

The said Institute has acknowledged the strength of this novel, as one of the powerful stories ever told in an African literary flair and is the only novel selected for this event this year.  Thus, continuing in the model of presenting this novel to the world, Goethe Institute will host the said event under a theme ‘The Platteland in South Africa’ on 23 October 2012 where Nelson Makhubane Tshabalala will engage with various personalities and present his perspectives about rural South Africa.

Smoke Of Forgiveness has been nominated to compete for the 2012 Ethnicity, Nationalism, and Migration Section (ENMISA) awards in London, England, being another international literary distinguished book award on international politics.

The Africa Book Club, being one of the international leading magazine and club has recently chosen Nelson Makhubane Tshabalala as the African Author of the Week and Month (September 2012), respectively, primarily on the basis of the strength of his novel, Smoke Of Forgiveness.


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