Publisher of Siya Kolisi biography has no intention of withdrawing book

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The revised cover of an unofficial biography on Siya Kolisi
The revised cover of an unofficial biography on Siya Kolisi
  • Jonathan Ball, publisher of the unauthorised biography on Siya Kolisi, has no intention of withdrawing a revised edition of the book.
  • Rachel Kolisi, the Springbok captain's wife, on Thursday took to social media to demand its removal, alleging it amounts to exploitation.
  • Jeremy Boraine, publishing director at Jonathan Ball, says unauthorised biographies are an established literary genre.

Jonathan Ball, publisher of Siya Kolisi: Against All Odds, has no intention of withdrawing the revised edition of the unauthorised biography on the Springbok captain.

Rachel, Kolisi's wife, on Thursday made waves again with a controversial Instagram post calling for all commercial activity related to the book to be ceased, alleging that "white men are benefiting off the back of a black man".

She accompanied the post with the hashtag #SaveSiyasStory.

But Jeremy Boraine, publishing director at Jonathan Ball, has confirmed that the book will continue to appear on shelves.

"We've taken note of their unhappiness though we're not withdrawing the book," he told Sport24 on Friday.

"As publisher, Jonathan Ball believes we've done nothing wrong."

Boraine noted that the practice of producing unauthorised biographies is "hardly unusual", with Jonathan Ball boasting an impressive portfolio of comprehensive if unofficial books on Tour de France legend Chris Froome, President Cyril Ramaphosa and former public protector Thuli Madonsela.

"Unauthorised biographies are a well recognised literary genre. Publishers do it all over the world and is focused especially on sports stars, politicians and celebrities," he said.

Ironically, Kolisi admitted in her post that - following the book's initial release to coincide with last year's World Cup squad announcement - the flanker's agent at the time advised them not to pursue legal action as they didn't have a case.

However, she still maintains that Siya's story is "his to tell".

Boraine reiterated author Jeremy Daniel's assertion that there was initial engagement with Kolisi and his representatives.

"We actually approached him back (in mid-2018) when he was first named Springbok captain. There was a substantial offer on the table but this was dismissed," he said.

"When we decided to go ahead we informed his agent and we received no negativity."

The revised edition includes a new cover and chapters on the World Cup campaign as well as the Boks' trophy tour.

Kolisi's official autobiography is planned for release next year ahead of the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa.

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