Richard Poplak

Richard Poplak is an award-winning author, journalist and graphic novelist. He was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and trained as a filmmaker and fine artist at Montreal’s Concordia University. Now, Richard can be found learning to play polo, chasing Big Game in Africa, investigating German sub-sub cultures in Namibia, eating at TGI Fridays in the Middle East, bowling in Kazakhstan, or racing Mercedes sports sedans in Russia.

His first book was the highly acclaimed Ja, No, Man: Growing Up White in Apartheid-Era South Africa (Penguin, 2007); his follow-up, entitled The Sheikh’s Batmobile: In Pursuit of American Pop-Culture in the Muslim World (Soft Skull, 2010), is out now. Richard has also written the experimental journalistic graphic novel Kenk: A Graphic Portrait (Pop Sandbox, 2010). He is currently co-authoring a book about a rising Africa with journalist Kevin Bloom, called Whiteout: An Investigative Journey into Africa 3.0.


Reverse fairytale: Valentine’s Day, 2013. While sitting on the toilet after a romantic evening, a beautiful young woman named Reeva Steenkamp was shot to death by her handsome boyfriend, the Paralympian track star Oscar Pistorius. In his murder trial, currently unfolding in a Pretoria courtroom, the judge will want to know why, not if , Oscar killed his paramour. He will explain that he was under a hypnogogic fog in the dark of his bedroom, and mistook his beloved for a violent intruder, emptying half a magazine into the bathroom door behind which she cowered. The prosecutors will insist that Oscar is an entitled celebrity and a violent man with a history of bad behaviour , and his fusillade was aimed at Reeva in all her bountiful blondness, and not at some imaginary bogyman. In stating their case, the prosecutors will be forced to acknowledge that South Africa is a violent country, in which violent intruders occasionally infiltrate even the up-market, high-security compounds in which Oscar unquestionably killed Reeva. These intrusions are the baseline fear not only of South Africa’s economically blessed white minority, and not only of the country’s increasingly wealthy black middle class (whatever “middle class” means in the South African context), but also of poorest of shack dwellers, who don’t have mercenaries patrolling their neighbourhoods in armoured pick-up trucks, trained to counter any home invasion with violence at least as extreme.
||Bernard Hinault
The author of Braking Bad: Chasing Lance Armstrong and the Cancer of Corruption shares his eight favourite books about the world on two wheels.
||Eddy Merckx
The story of disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong isn’t just about the greatest doping conspiracy in sports history—it’s about the nature of corruption. In this excerpt from Braking Bad: Chasing Lance Armstrong and the Cancer of Corruption , author Richard Poplak asks what kind of man is best fit to excel at the Tour de France.
The maelstrom that is Lance Armstrong Inc. teaches us how power, backed by money and self-righteousness, can be a force of almost unlimited destruction. The cyclist’s story isn’t just about the greatest doping conspiracy in sports—it’s about the nature of corruption.