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Shirley, Goodness & Mercy: A Childhood in Africa
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Shirley, Goodness & Mercy: A Childhood in Africa

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  157 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews
Despite Van Wyk's later becoming involved in the anti-apartheid struggle, this is not a book about racial politics. Instead, it is a delightful account of one boy's special relationship with the relatives, friends and neighbors—often decidedly quirky—who made up his community, and of the important coping role laughter and humor played during the years he spent in bleak, du ...more
Paperback, 315 pages
Published October 1st 2006 by Pan Macmillan (first published 2004)
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(showing 1-30 of 362)
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Chris van Wyk's reminiscences of his childhood and youth in apartheid South Africa is an excellent book. He grew up in Riverlea, a working-class so-called Coloured suburb in southern Johannesburg in the 1960s and 1970s. I would have loved to have heard him speak, because I can just imagine telling these stories about family, friends, enemies and the daily rituals that he wrote with such charm and wit. His family was relatively poor and there were six children to feed, but there were lots of fami ...more
Sep 12, 2014 Tania rated it really liked it
A memoir of a coloured person's life in apartheid SA. At times funny, at times very sad but always well written. This was not always an easy book to read, as it is a very real reminder of the sins of our fathers.
Jul 23, 2010 Tania rated it really liked it
When Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990, I was 5 years old... When he was elected as President in the first democratic elections, I was 9... Twenty years on from his release, I'm afraid I often forget just how harrowing Apartheid was for anyone who didn't have a certain skin colour.

However, Chris van Wyk's book is by no means a "woe-is-me" tale of growing up in the Apartheid era. He injects such humour into his early days that you are drawn into tales about his family and friends, a
Coleen Cloete
Nov 10, 2012 Coleen Cloete rated it really liked it

In parts so funny, in parts uncomfortable and sad. A different perspective and insight into the lives of coloured people daily life's during apartheid.
Caroline Greyling
Dec 28, 2014 Caroline Greyling rated it it was amazing
There are many novels available in recent years that deal with Apartheid and the struggle. Many autobiographies are available detailing the lives of those closest to the struggle and thankfully, history books and school curriculum have been rewritten to better reflect the truth of those times. However, there are few books that deal with the ordinary man on the street, and fewer yet dealing with those of the minority groups, like the ‘colored’ community.

‘Shirley goodness and mercy’ is a wonderfu
Sonja Arlow
Oct 22, 2012 Sonja Arlow rated it really liked it
I adored the fact that the author’s love for books and language since childhood came out so strong and that he has the ability to make one remember your own fondest memories of childhood when he relays stories of his.

It was also inevitable that politics would feature somewhere in his memoires as he was a precocious child growing up in Apartheid SA. I highly recommend this book as well as his other one “Eggs to Lay & Chickens To Hatch”
Jul 31, 2008 Mel rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A memoir about growing up coloured in apartheid South Africa. Beautifully written.
Lucinda Cloete
Oct 09, 2014 Lucinda Cloete rated it it was amazing
I am saddened by the passing on of this talented writer, Chris van Wyk, on Saturday 4 October. My condolences to his wife , Kate, and his extended family. Shirley, Goodness and Mercy" will always be one of my favourite books. May his beautiful soul rest in peace.
May 26, 2010 Bill rated it it was amazing
A great book about a people stuck in a twilight zone neither black nor white in the Apartheid South Africa. A most enjoyable book.
Jun 08, 2014 Mya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was awesome. Little anecdotes from the author's life - largely his early years. Chris van Wyk writes really well and has an awesome sense of humour. He also scatters some of his poetry throughout the book, which is nice. I think it also provides a less 'in your face' perspective of how apartheid impacted communities if one is brave enough to stop and think about it. He speaks of events and authors that were never part of my history yet are treasures of my country's culture. We have the "seque ...more
Myrna Roach
Aug 31, 2015 Myrna Roach rated it it was amazing
One of my all time favourite South African writers. Loved this book.
Mpumi Sithole
Dec 15, 2013 Mpumi Sithole rated it really liked it
This was an excellent read, I laughed and cried while reading this book. It transported me to Chris' childhood to his young adult life and is a testament that you know your path at an earlier age. Chris was destined to be a writer and his love if books and words started showing at a very young age. His enquiring mind from an early age just refreshing and I was not surprised that he was part of the struggle to free South Africa in his way through his art - as a writer, poet.
Apr 26, 2016 Kinosfronimos rated it it was amazing
Funny, sad, perfect
Oct 07, 2008 Sara rated it really liked it
This book is quite fun...great stories from a coloured boy growing up in South Africa during Apartheid, smart interesting boy too. Some real good insights into human nature...
Jan 21, 2013 Carol rated it it was amazing

Chris you are a star! Beautifully written! I laughed, i cried I relived all those scenes and walked all those places! I will always, always treasure this book!
Nov 20, 2013 Marcus added it
Chris Van Wyk is an amazing amazing author! he took me on a journey into a boy's life, into life at Riverlea. I am grateful to have come across his work, i am a FAN!
Ursula Kibido
May 06, 2013 Ursula Kibido rated it liked it
A real treat of a book that reminded me of growing up in the Cape townships.
Dec 02, 2010 Verna rated it it was amazing
written in vernacular, the streets, life and love are clearly painted
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