For most cricket fans and South Africans, AB De Villiers (AB is short for Abraham Benjamin) needs little introduction. He is a international cricketer, playing for the South African team (the Proteas) and has captained of several teams. He is a prolific batsman, has been a wicket keeper and has even taken some wickets as a bowler. He is also very popular in India where he has played in the IPL (Indian Premiere League ).
I read the Afrikaans version of his autobiography (which was as a gift for my grandmother who loves cricket). It is also available in English. It looks like a massive, thick book, but the font sizing and spacing makes it quick and easy to read.
AB: The Autobiography (in Afrikaans: AB: Die Outobiografie) is a glance into the life and career of a much admired and talented sportsman . Reading AB’s thoughts and about his vulnerabilities makes him so much more human and a even more special cricketer.
If you can read Afrikaans, I recommend that you pick up the Afrikaans version, as this is AB De Villiers’ mother tongue.
*** Overview of the book:
The book starts in 2015, during a ODI (one day international) between the Proteas and the West Indies, in which AB broke several batting world records. He then shares two deeply spiritual, personal experiences in his life and it is immediately clear that his Christian faith is at the core of his being. He asserts however, that this is his personal conviction and that he does not judge others based on their religion.
We then meet AB as a barefoot 11-year old boy, playing cricket with his older brothers and their friends in the garden of his small-town home in Warmbaths (now know as Bela-Bela). He writes about his sports-crazy childhood playing cricket, golf, rugby, tennis and swimming. About his 3 best childhood friends who he still keeps in touch with. About an incident his with his dog, Boris.
He debunks several myths, “facts” exaggerating his athletic accomplishments on the internet. The existence of these legends are not really baffling though, he is nicknamed “Superman” by some and is indeed good at several sports.
AB writes abut his high school career at Die Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool (Afrikaans Boys High School) in Pretoria, where he played rugby, (field) hockey and cricket. Several now famous sports stars were among his school mates, notably Protea teammate, Faf du Plessis. Admittedly, I glazed over some of the descriptions of rugby games.
He writes about his cricketing career. Playing provincially, as a Protea, world cups , as well as playing in Northern Ireland and India. He shares his insecurities, moments of glory, defeats and victories. He writes about his family, friends, teammates, support team, critics, fans and #proteafire. About his love for South Africa and meeting Nelson Mandela. About meeting his heroes, playing guitar and writing songs. Meeting his future wife, proposing marriage, their wedding, the beautiful song she wrote for him, the birth of his son and balancing his career and his family life.
The book also has two lovely sections with colour photographs of his childhood, career and personal life. There is also a listing of Ab’s career statistics which are quite impressive to see on paper.
I would recommend this book to cricket fans and to lovers of sports biographies.
The Sound of the Fury, by William Faulkner was first published in 1929. I found my copy at a second hand book sale. I had once heard a quote in a movie that it is the most difficult book in the English language, so naturally I bought it.
The novel is racist and sexist (or at least, the characters are), but it is set in the American South a century ago (spanning 1910 – 1928) and reflects the place and time.
The book has four narrators, the three Compson brothers and then a fourth omnipresent narrator. Benjy who is mentally handicapped, a difficult narrator to follow. Quentin who is depressed and could likely be classified as mentally ill. Jason, who is the easiest of the Compson narrators to follow, is pretty much a-hole (given his family life and childhood it is somewhat understandable, but he would probably have been a a-hole otherwise anyway). Their sister Caddy, even though is is a very central character, is not a narrator. It is sexist, yes, but it suits the novel and the voicelessness of her character. As messed-up, incestuous and/or prejudiced the characters was I could relate to most of them, at least on some level..
The narrative can be confusing. Benjy and Quentin’s narratives jumps a lot between current events and memories. Stream-of-consciousness is often employed. There are plenty of run-on sentences. The majority of the book is pretty much one run-on sentence.
Character names are confusing at times. For one, apart from the narrator Quentin there is also Quentin who is a next-generation Compson girl. Given the time-jumping narrative, I first thought Quentin was transgender or something, or a boy being raised as a girl, until I realised they were two different characters.
This is a complex portrait of human misery, despair, poverty, suffering and prejudice. As frustrating as it can be, it is pretty well-crafted. I think The Sound and the Fury is worth the read and probably something you’d want to reread, even if it is just to make more sense of it.