Successful business magnate Adam Kethro’s debut-novel, Pleasures of the Harbour, is set in the closing decades of the 20th century in sanction-wracked South Africa. It navigates a world of dodgy business partners, dubious deals and a few failed attempts at love for Adam Askew, before he can finally say he’s made it.
This captivating and highly entertaining novel is Adam Kethro’s (66) first and he debuts impressively with this dramatised biography, which tells the story of a young man’s fortitude to achieve his life goals.
What to expect
The book is part adventure and part action, with lots of wheeling and dealing and readers are in for a rollicking ride as he traverses the high seas and low roads of Southern Africa while opening boardroom doors and a few bedroom doors along the way.
With the title of the book drawn from the Phil Ochs album, he draws the reader into a world of ambition, greed, sabotage, bribery, corruption and revenge.
He only started writing at the age of 61 with one finger on his laptop and already had to replace a keyboard. With no formal post-school business qualifications, he started his own freight company in 1980. Kethro spent 25 years building, running and growing his company, Bridge Shipping, and today it is the biggest logistics company in Southern Africa.
Under Adam’s leadership and direction, it grew into one of Southern Africa’s leading logistics companies, boasting more than 750 employees when he retired as executive chairman in 2005. At the time, he left behind 45 millionaires, many of whom still work at the company.
“I first knew I would write a novel one day when I was in standard 8 and my essays got published in the School Magazine. The book covers a mad time of sanctions and solutions. Hopefully, it will inspire young people to create in the 21st century,” says Kethro.
His advice for other entrepreneurs is simple: “There are a thousand impediments to starting a new business. Starting young may give problems of credibility, but life is much clearer when you are young and once you have a wife, two kids and a car to pay for, you are unlikely to be an entrepreneur. Don’t be too fixed on your target market and tunnel vision is a great asset.”
Adam Kethro’s ‘Pleasures of the Harbour’ synopsis
Adam Askew is a young man in a hurry and always wanted to be financially independent. Armed with guts, determination and a cocky self-assurance, he sets up a shipping company with a view to take on the world, one ton of cargo at a time.
Fed up with the cliquey set-up in Durban, he takes a gutsy gamble − the biggest risk of his life − one that will ultimately make or break him. He heads for the big city lights of swanky 80s Joburg and is soon dining at the top of the Carlton and in London and making some enemies along the way.