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Lauren Beukes

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Zoo City Love

Been getting some lovely early reviews, both in the media and from friends/fans/fan-friends on Twitter.

The most commonly used term that crops up is variations on “unputdownable”. I can explain that. The book not only has nifty rounded corners, it also has cunningly disguised brand-spanking-new velcro-technology woven into the pages on a molecular level, so you really, genuinely, can’t put it down. The book is cheap, only R125, but the antidote for the velcro-stickiness will cost you…

Without any further silliness from me, here’s a round-up of some of the reviews so far. ( I deny bribing these people with cookies):

Andreas Späth on says:

“This is intelligent and witty urban writing for the 21st century: unashamedly South African yet thoroughly metropolitan; wildly entertaining, yet richly nuanced… Anyone who was worried about Beukes’s ability to live up to the wide acclaim and excitement raised by her debut novel Moxyland can rest assured. This is even better. Zoo City reaffirms Beukes as one of South Africa’s most imaginative new literary voices.


Matthew du Plessis writes in The Times today

“Zoo City is a story of mysteries unfolding, and it is a story well told. But it’s the world around the story, and the words that guide us through, that make it something more than simply marvellous.

With her subtle, intimate descriptions of the roads we walk in this crazy city; with characters so deeply twisty you could lose a giant squid in their nebulous hidey holes, and with turns of phrase that are as likely to conjure up Rudyard Kipling, Brenda Fassie or Credo Mutwa as they are to invoke Japanese anime, Doctor Who or the crack in Johnny Cash’s voice as he sings of his greatest loss, this canny authoress has brought real magic to everyday life in Jozi, in what I’m afraid I really am going to end off by describing as an act of unadulterated literature.”


And Gill Polack writes on her blog, “While Zoo City still has an edge, it’s more lyrical than Moxyland. And it has magic… The protagonist can sense lost things. Sometimes she finds them. She is animalled, underclass. It’s been a long time since I’ve read an urban fantasy based on the-world-as-we-know-it-one-day-changed assumption. The novel is now, but it’s certainly not us. Beukes handles that assumption differently and shows how deep the effects of the changes are, right from the beginning. One sentence of hers explains the nature of the change better than four sentences of mine, so here is that sentence: “All it takes is one Afghan warlord to show up with a Penguin in a bulletproof vest and everything science and religion thought they knew goes right out the window.”

The fantasy elements are familiar. Justine Larbalestier’s How to Ditch Your Fairy carried through to its full dangerous potential; Pullman’s external souls in an adult world. Beukes handles them in her way and their familiarity doesn’t matter.

All that matters is the remorseless pull of the story and the bitter wish for a happy ending. Beukes’ worlds aren’t hyper-real, or gentled: they hurt because they’re just one step removed from what we know. ”


Recent comments:

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Richard de Nooy</a>
    Richard de Nooy
    June 4th, 2010 @15:25 #

    Very nice carats, Zookeeper.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Sally</a>
    June 7th, 2010 @08:31 #

    Just finished Zoo City and found it incredible. Stayed up all night to finish it and had the craziest dream about being chased through Hillbrow by a bunch of animal-wielding crazies. Can't wait for the next one!

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Lauren Beukes</a>
    Lauren Beukes
    June 7th, 2010 @09:43 #

    Okay, hold on now, give me a chance, the book's a week old and you want a new one already? Just because you and Sarah Lotz are writing machines, doesn't mean I can keep up with you.

  • <a href="" rel="nofollow">Sarah Lotz</a>
    Sarah Lotz
    June 7th, 2010 @09:58 #

    Sally - I have a small inkling as to what the Beukes is up to next (writing wise), and damn her ultra-talented eyes, it's going to be even more amazing than Zoo City.
    I especially like the 'unadulterated literature' comment in the Times review, but all of these are great.


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