Jonathan Ball: The loss of a monumental industry figure
The colossus influenced generations of readers of the award-winning titles he published, writes Tymon Smith
Jonathan Ball, who died last week at the age of 69 in Cape Town, was a remarkable, one-of-a-kind character whose sharp eye for quality writing about the most urgent issues affecting SA’s political and social landscape influenced generations of readers of the plethora of award-winning and best-selling titles he published under his eponymous imprint for almost half a century.
As former Sunday Times books editor Michele Magwood wrote in a 2015 profile, in person Ball was “a giant of a man — in size, vision and influence … a bon viveur who doesn’t suffer fools, a deep reader with acute commercial nous, a gruff taskmaster and an adoring family man, lethally funny but sometimes abrupt to the point of rudeness. He is also surprisingly modest because if he is a giant of a man, he is a colossus of a publisher. And as such, has had a profound effect on this country.”..