The Greatest Mayan, South African "Historical fiction" Books of All Time

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 305 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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Historical fiction

Historical fiction is a genre of literature that combines fictional stories with real historical events, settings, and characters. These books often take place in a specific time period and are based on research and factual information, but also include imaginative elements to create a compelling narrative. Historical fiction allows readers to experience the past in a unique and engaging way, while also providing insight into the social, cultural, and political issues of the time.

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  1. 1. Burger's Daughter by Nadine Gordimer

    "Burger's Daughter" is a novel centered around Rosa Burger, a white woman in South Africa during the apartheid era. The narrative delves into Rosa's life and struggle to find her identity, while also dealing with the legacy of her parents who were anti-apartheid activists. This story provides a deep look into the political and social climate of South Africa during a time of racial segregation and oppression.

    The 969th Greatest Book of All Time
  2. 2. The Story Of An African Farm by Olive Schreiner

    The book is a pioneering work in feminist literature, set in the harsh and arid South African veld in the late 19th century. It follows the lives of two English children, Lyndall and Waldo, who live on a farm and grapple with the constraints of their isolated environment. The narrative explores themes of gender, race, and colonialism, as the characters confront the societal expectations and limitations placed upon them. Through their struggles and relationships, the story delves into existential questions and the search for personal freedom, challenging the traditional roles and beliefs of the time.

    The 1068th Greatest Book of All Time
  3. 3. A Dry White Season by Andre Brink

    Set in apartheid-era South Africa, "A Dry White Season" follows the story of Ben Du Toit, a white schoolteacher who becomes involved in the fight against the system after his gardener's son is brutally beaten by the police. As he delves deeper into his quest for justice, he becomes increasingly isolated from his community and his family, and ultimately pays the highest price for his convictions. The novel is a powerful exploration of the devastating effects of racial injustice and the courage it takes to stand against it.

    The 1239th Greatest Book of All Time
  4. 4. Chaka by Thomas Mofolo

    This novel explores the life of Chaka, a legendary leader in Southern Africa who turns into a tyrant due to his insatiable thirst for power. The narrative focuses on his rise to power, his strategic military genius which leads to the expansion of the Zulu Empire, and his eventual downfall due to his increasing brutality and madness. The story is a blend of historical fact and folklore, creating a complex portrait of a man driven by ambition and consumed by his own power.

    The 1540th Greatest Book of All Time
  5. 5. Dusklands by J M Coetzee

    "Dusklands" is a novel divided into two distinct parts, each examining the theme of imperialism. The first part follows a psychologically unstable American government researcher during the Vietnam War, who is tasked with developing propaganda to justify the conflict. The second part is a historical narrative set in the 18th century, exploring the violent colonization of South Africa by the Dutch. The stories parallel each other, highlighting the destructive nature of imperialism and the psychological effects it has on individuals.

    The 2471st Greatest Book of All Time
  6. 6. Ancestral Voices by Etienne van Heerden

    "Ancestral Voices" is a haunting novel set in South Africa during the apartheid era. The story follows a young boy who grows up in a small rural town, navigating a complex web of familial relationships and secrets. As he matures, he becomes increasingly aware of the racial and social injustices that surround him. The book explores themes of identity, heritage, and the harsh realities of life under apartheid, all weaved together with a deep sense of the mystical and the supernatural.

    The 3240th Greatest Book of All Time
  7. 7. Ingqumbo Yeminyanya by Archibald Campbell Jordan

    "Ingqumbo Yeminyanya" is a powerful and thought-provoking novel set in South Africa during the early 20th century. It explores the complexities of race, identity, and the struggle for freedom through the lives of its diverse characters. With rich storytelling and vivid descriptions, the book delves into the harsh realities of apartheid and the profound impact it has on individuals and communities. Through its compelling narrative, the novel challenges readers to confront the deep-rooted prejudices and injustices that plagued the nation, while also highlighting the strength and resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

    The 3813th Greatest Book of All Time
  8. 8. Inkinnsela Yase Mgungundlovu by Sibusiso Nyembezi

    "Inkinnsela Yase Mgungundlovu" is a captivating novel that delves into the lives of the people living in the village of Mgungundlovu. Set during the time of the Zulu kingdom, the story follows the struggles and triumphs of various characters as they navigate through love, friendship, and societal expectations. With rich cultural descriptions and vivid storytelling, the book offers a glimpse into the complexities of life in rural South Africa, highlighting themes of tradition, identity, and the pursuit of dreams.

    The 3813th Greatest Book of All Time
  9. 9. The Long Journey of Poppie Nongena by Elsa Joubert

    "Die Swerdjare Van Poppie Nongena" is a powerful and poignant novel that tells the story of Poppie, a black South African woman, during the apartheid era. Set in the 1960s, Poppie faces immense challenges as she navigates the oppressive system that separates her from her family and forces her to endure constant discrimination and hardship. Through Poppie's experiences, the book explores themes of resilience, love, and the human spirit's ability to triumph in the face of adversity.

    The 4401st Greatest Book of All Time
  10. 10. Fiela's Child by Dalene Matthee

    The book is a poignant tale set in 19th-century South Africa, where a young white boy, believed to be lost by his biological family, is found and raised by Fiela, a compassionate and strong-willed woman of the Khoikhoi community. The story unfolds as the boy, named Benjamin, grows up with a deep sense of belonging in Fiela's family, only to have his identity and future thrown into turmoil when government officials, enforcing racial classifications of the time, remove him from his home. He is then forced to live with a destitute white family in the dense Knysna Forest, leading to a profound exploration of identity, race, and the meaning of family, as both Fiela and Benjamin struggle to reclaim their lives and assert their rightful place in a society governed by strict racial divides.

    The 4762nd Greatest Book of All Time
  11. 11. Another Country by Karel Schoeman

    "Another Country" is a historical novel set in 19th century South Africa, following the life of an Irish woman who immigrates to the country. The narrative explores her experiences and struggles as she adapts to the harsh realities of a new land, while also providing a vivid portrayal of the racial, political, and social tensions of the era. The book offers a deep insight into the complexities of colonialism and the formation of modern South Africa.

    The 4867th Greatest Book of All Time
  12. 12. Between Two Worlds by Miriam Tlali

    "Between Two Worlds" is a compelling narrative that explores the harsh realities of apartheid in South Africa through the eyes of its protagonist, Muriel. The story delves into Muriel's life as she navigates the oppressive societal structures that enforce racial segregation and discrimination. Working in a Johannesburg store, she encounters a microcosm of apartheid's broader societal impacts, including the complexities of interracial relationships and the struggle for dignity and identity amidst pervasive racism. The novel poignantly captures the personal and political conflicts faced by those trapped between the traditional and the modern, the rural and the urban, in a time of profound injustice.

    The 4937th Greatest Book of All Time
  13. 13. And They Didn't Die by Lauretta Ngcobo

    This novel explores the resilience and struggles of a group of women in a rural South African village during the apartheid era. As they grapple with oppressive laws, land seizures, and the forced labor system that sends their men to work in distant mines, the women band together to sustain their families and community. Their story is one of survival and solidarity in the face of systemic racism and sexism, highlighting the intersection of personal and political battles while showcasing the strength and endurance of women under extreme hardship.

    The 5133rd Greatest Book of All Time
  14. 14. Third World Express by Mongane Serote

    "Third World Express" is a powerful and thought-provoking collection of poetry that explores the harsh realities of life in South Africa during apartheid. Through vivid imagery and evocative language, the author captures the struggles, hopes, and resilience of the marginalized communities, shedding light on the social and political injustices they face. With a blend of anger, sorrow, and determination, the poems in this book challenge the status quo and call for a more just and equal society.

    The 6135th Greatest Book of All Time
  15. 15. Frontiers The Epic Of South Africa's Creation And The by Noel Mostert

    The book provides a comprehensive historical account of South Africa's colonial era, focusing on the complex and often violent interactions between the indigenous peoples and European settlers. It delves into the cultural, political, and social dynamics that shaped the region, highlighting the expansion of the European colonial frontier and its profound impact on the native populations. Through detailed narratives, the book explores the themes of conquest, resistance, and the eventual establishment of apartheid, offering a deep and nuanced understanding of South Africa's tumultuous history.

    The 6144th Greatest Book of All Time
  16. 16. This Life by Karel Schoeman

    "This Life" is a reflective narrative that delves into the memories and experiences of an elderly South African woman as she nears the end of her life. Set against the backdrop of the 19th-century Boer society, the story unfolds through her introspective journal entries and letters, revealing the intimate details of her personal journey, her relationships, and the quiet struggles she endures. The novel poignantly explores themes of isolation, the passage of time, and the search for meaning, offering a contemplative look at the universal human condition through the lens of a solitary life lived amidst the vast landscapes of South Africa.

    The 6431st Greatest Book of All Time
  17. 17. River God by Wilbur Smith

    Set in ancient Egypt, the novel follows the life of Taita, a multitalented and highly intelligent slave, who serves a prominent household. Taita's story is one of love, war, and intrigue, as he uses his wit and skills to navigate the complex political landscape of the time. He is deeply devoted to his mistress, Lostris, and her lover, Tanus, and becomes embroiled in their secret affair. As Egypt faces threats both from within and from invading Hyksos forces, Taita's loyalty and ingenuity are put to the test. His journey is filled with adventure, as he seeks to protect his loved ones and ensure the survival of the kingdom's legacy.

    The 6461st Greatest Book of All Time
  18. 18. Age Of Iron by J M Coetzee

    In "Age of Iron," the narrative unfolds through the eyes of a terminally ill classics professor in apartheid-era South Africa. As she confronts her impending death, she forms an unlikely bond with a homeless alcoholic man. Through their interactions and the backdrop of a society rife with inequality and violence, the novel explores themes of morality, mortality, and the complexities of human relationships. The protagonist's personal journey is set against the harsh realities of an oppressive political system, offering a poignant reflection on the human condition and the struggle for dignity amidst chaos and decay.

    The 6920th Greatest Book of All Time
  19. 19. Foe by J M Coetzee

    "Foe" is a novel that reimagines the classic tale of "Robinson Crusoe" through a postmodern lens, exploring themes of language, power, and colonialism. The story introduces a female character, Susan Barton, who finds herself cast away on the same island as Crusoe and Friday. Upon her return to England, she seeks out a writer to help tell her version of the events, but struggles with the erasure of her voice and the complexities of storytelling. The narrative delves into the silent history of Friday, whose tongue has been cut out, and the power dynamics between the characters, ultimately questioning the nature of truth and the ownership of stories.

    The 8455th Greatest Book of All Time
  20. 20. Kruger's Alp by Christopher Hope

    "Kruger's Alp" follows the journey of a South African everyman, a railway guard, who embarks on a trek across Europe to find the grave of Paul Kruger, a former president of South Africa. Along the way, he encounters a variety of characters and experiences that reflect on the history and politics of his home country, providing a satirical and insightful commentary on South African society during the apartheid era.

    The 10828th Greatest Book of All Time

Reading Statistics

Click the button below to see how many of these books you've read!


If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.