Fashion Bookclub! Ntombenhle’s Reads

Ntombenhle Shezi is a journalist who writes for various Times Media titles including; The Sunday Times, The Edit, WANTED and the newly launched SMag, part of Sowetan. She’s worked at ELLE Magazine and has freelanced for Marie Claire and the Mail & Guardian. She’s a complete bae and I could sit listening to her ideas and wisdom for hours.

Ntombenhle says “I studied African Literature and History but have always had a soft spot for fashion. I recently ventured into the beauty side of things. I am passionate about Black popular culture and I love to read fiction as a form of escapism, but I don’t just limit myself to that. Any good book will do. Here are my recommendations.”

The Stylist's Notebook Ntombenhle's Reads

Thirteen Cents by K Sello Duiker

This is a beautiful début novel from Duiker about a homeless boy who has to navigate some tough spaces and situations. It is a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, where a sometimes grim reality meets magic realism in post-apartheid Cape-Town.

Available from Exclusive Books

The Stylist's Notebook Ntombenhle's Reads

If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

A devastatingly beautiful novel from Baldwin. It’s narrated from the perspective of Tish, a young girl who is expecting a baby with her love Fonny, a Black man wrongfully imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. Set in Harlem, the novel’s themes of incarceration and an unequal justice system makes Baldwin’s writing very relevant today. I also enjoy Baldwin as an essayist and The Creative Process is one of those I keep going back to.

Available from Exclusive Books

The Stylist's Notebook Ntombenhle's Reads

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz.

Junot Díaz is always delightful and brilliant to read. This book is a collection of short stories weaved together about Yunior, the protagonist, and his relationship with his family and women. It is a great reflection on how our actions impact our most intimate relationships while offering an interesting perspective of a code-switching Dominican man living in New Jersey. It’s also hilarious and you might find yourself reading it in one sitting.

Available from Amazon.com

The Stylist's Notebook Ntombenhle's Reads

Double Negative by Ivan Vladislavić

Joburg is one of my greatest loves, which is why I appreciate this book. It came out as sort of a response to David Goldblatt’s TJ, a book of photography focused on the city. The novel is about a photographer and his experience with a changing Johannesburg through three different periods of his life – the early 80s, just after the 1994 elections, and a few years into the 2000s. I cannot identify with the city from a perspective of a white man, because navigating the same spaces is very different for Black women, but I too am fascinated with this constantly changing and complex city.

Available from Exclusive Books

The Stylist's Notebook Ntombenhle's Reads

Sula by Toni Morrison

Just about all of Morrison’s Books have had a lasting impact on me, from The Bluest Eye to the very recent God Help the Child. I love that Morrison focuses on complex female characters who subvert the ideas of what women are expected to be. This book will have you thinking about a lot of things, including motherhood, death, female friendships, racism, and internalised-racism.

Available from Bookdealers

The Stylist's Notebook Ntombenhle's Reads

Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga

A special mention to Dangarembga, who was my first entry point into African literature. Probably also one of the first times I read a book where a Black girl, Nyasha, was so independent and defiant. I am also sure many Black people can identify with the conflict of trying to stay true to one’s traditional ideologies in a very Westernised world.

Available from Exclusive Books

Currently Reading

I am a sucker for magic realism and am currently enjoying the fantastical writings of Sulman Rushde (Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights) and Gabriel García Márquez (The Incredible and Sad Tale of Innocent Eréndira and Her Heartless Grandmother).

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