Jonathan Ball, the founder of Jonathan Ball Publishers, died on 3 April 2021 after a short illness. This collection of essays, commissioned in tribute to him, is edited by Michele Magwood.
Jonathan Ball left a deep impression on many different people in different ways. The forty or so essays reflect the many facets of Jonathan. The chapter headings would read husband, father, businessman, friend, brother, colleague. But it is in the subheads that we begin to understand the shape of him: publisher extraordinaire, history expert, gourmand, liberal thinker, suitor, philosemite and so on.
It cannot be exaggerated how deep an imprint Jonathan has left on the political and cultural life of South Africa, too. The shelves of Jonathan Ball Publishers are weighted with serious history and biographies of eminent figures, with books that other publishers didn’t have the boldness, the sheer guts, to take on. But there are many smaller, more finespun stories that tell us too who we are as a people and as a nation.