Then PDF versions began circulating on WhatsApp, prompting Pauw, an award-winning journalist, to ask readers to buy the book instead. It wasn’t about the sales stats or profits, he said, but rather in support of journalism and the legal woes he would inevitably face for going up against the president. NB Publishers in turn published their response to the state security agencies lawyers on Nov. 6, further politicizing the book itself.

Zuma’s presidency has devolved into a tome of political scandals, each one more shocking than the last. If all the non-fiction written about Zuma is to be believed, South Africa’s political landscape reads like a dystopian novel and books trying to make sense of this world routinely do well. For instance, about 600 people showed up for what would normally have been an intimate launch of the biography of the woman who accused Zuma of rape. The record-breaking success of The President’s Keepers illustrates that the politics of the day have become stranger than fiction.

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