La Grange book a runaway success

Penguin Books says the response to 'Good Morning, Mr Mandela' has been overwhelming.

Nelson Mandela walks with the help of his assistant private secretary Zelda le Grange to the auditorium at Mandela House in Johannesburg where the first instalment of the Madiba Legacy Series consisting of nine comic books telling the story of his life was launched, Friday, 28 October 2005. Picture: SAPA

JOHANNESBURG - Fredrik de Jager, publishing director at Penguin Books South Africa, says the response to Zelda la Grange's memoir Good Morning, Mr Mandela can only be described in one word -"overwhelming".

The book, which recounts anecdotes about her 19 year experience working for former President Nelson Mandela as his personal assistant, was launched in South Africa, London and New York on 19 June.

De Jager says although they expected a good response, both the English and Afrikaans versions of the book have been flying off the shelves.

"Within four or five working days after the book's release, we already had to order a reprint of more than double the original."

He says although this isn't a record, it points to the fact that there is still considerable power in the book trade, which is under pressure on every level.

"It shows there's still a lot of strength out there for the right kind of book. Every now and again a book is an instant runaway seller, and in this instance, this is the case."

He says la Grange has sold rights to the book in at least seven languages in different territories around the world.

De Jager says he isn't aware of adverse reactions to the book by Mandela's family, friends and associates.

"I am not aware of any individual responses from people she mentioned in the book. I would imagine most of them would feel quite happy at being mentioned in the book because she nurtured very close relationship with various people across the world."

De Jager says he would be surprised if there wasn't a second book by la Grange.

"The story is not fully told yet."

Read an extract from Good Morning, Mr Mandela describing the rift which developed between Nelson Mandela and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

Read an extract from Good Morning, Mr Mandela where Zelda la Grange recounts the moment she realised that the end was near for Nelson Mandela.