New Africa Books' history starts with David Philip Publishers, which was founded in 1971 by Marie Philip and her late husband David. Over a long and distinguished career, David Philip published some of the great luminaries of African and South African literature, including Nobel Prize laureates Nadine Gordimer and Wole Soyinka, Guy Butler and Mongane Wally Serote, becoming what the former Sunday Times books editor Ben Williams called “a colossus who shaped the South African English canon more than anyone else”. Indeed, David Philip Publishers was, perhaps more than any other, the quintessential independent anti-apartheid publishing house in South Africa.
Marie and David Philip at the 1996 Alan Paton Award ceremony.
A colossus who shaped the South African English canon more than anyone else.
Not long after the Philips’ retirement in 1999, David Philip Publishers merged with two other small presses to become New Africa Books. Currently owned by the distinguished Sisulu family, and spearheaded by the highly experienced publisher Dusanka Stojakovic (formerly of Pan MacMillan), New Africa Books has in recent years recast itself as a perfectly formed small publisher, operating with a philosophy in contrast to the model that pervades much of the South African industry. We find gaps in the book market, and we fill them with meaningful, beautiful books. We address the problems our society faces.
New Africa Books currently consists of two imprints: our eponymous imprint, as well as the historical David Philip imprint. Between the two, we maintain a diverse and carefully curated catalogue of print titles in all South African languages. In addition to our literary output, our list puts special emphasis on literacy development in children and young adults.
New Africa Books publishes trade books of political, historical and cultural import for the South African and international market. Standout titles include the language courses Clicking with Xhosa and Zooming in on Zulu, as well as the Kwezi graphic novel series, written and illustrated by Loyiso Mkize. This series has been lauded as the first South African superhero series to find major retail distribution, and is a standout graphic novel title on the African and international stage.
Zwelakhe Sisulu was one of the shareholders and directors of New Africa Investments Limited, who bought David Philip Publishers and merged it with two other publishers, to form New Africa Books. He bought New Africa Books when he left New Africa Investments Limited.
Although its focus has shifted somewhat since the anti-apartheid days, David Philip remains a leading name in contemporary South African fiction, with a catalogue that currently includes multiple award-winning and best-selling writers like Richard Rive (Buckingham Palace: District Six; Emergency), Sindiwe Magona (Mother to Mother; Push-Push!), and Nick Mulgrew (Stations). The imprint also encompasses the edgy Siyagruva series for Young Adults, as well as Magona’s African Folk Tales – a series of nine original South African folktales, each individually published in all eleven official South African languages, making David Philip one of the very few publishing imprints in South Africa to publish books accessible to the entire population.