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Lauren Beukes

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Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

The Zoo City Bare Charity Auction – Thank You for Making it a Huge Success

As midnight approached last night, a frenzied literary bidding war erupted online over five one-of-a-kind works of art inspired by my novel, Zoo City, as two independent buyers, genius photographer girl, @2point8photo, and an anonymous American bidder only just snatching two of the Bares (Muti Monster and Nonnetjie respectively) from the deadly serious Jo’burg collector who was clearly hoping for a Bare-ish flush.

I was hoping, optimistically, that the Bares would raise R10 000 for The Suitcase Project, a children’s refugee organisation in Hillbrow. But by the time the dust cleared after the official cut-off time, the bids totalled almost double that: R18 000.

The idea was inspired by remix culture; setting your work free in the world to let other people play. It’s about seeing how others reinterpret your work, what it means to them, how they riff off it.

It started with the writing of the book, where I approached other writers to contribute chapters that were perpendicular to the plot, but helped establish the world, from a series of prison interviews by Sam Wilson, to a psychological paper written by Charlie Human and an interview with a fictional music producer by real-life music journalist Evan Milton.

It was an easy jump to creative collaborations in the real world for the launch of Zoo City, including an official soundtrack I put together with African Dope Record’s DJ HoneyB and creating a range of collectible art toys we would auction for a charity that somehow reflected an aspect of the book.

I approached six Cape Town-based designers and illustrators who donated their time and talent to hand-painting five of Am I Collective’s huge blank collectible vinyl toy Bares. The brief was left open as long as it was in some way inspired by the novel, which is about animal familiars, crime and magic, music and refugees and the possibility of redemption.

The results were extraordinary, and, best of all, surprising. Carine NguzBia van Deventer’s Borne managed to be both daintily pretty and macabre, a bird perching on a ribcage, whorls of intestine.

Clem de Bruin’s Pretty Wise depicted a thug-life old man inseparable from his familiar owl (the steal of the auction at only R1500!)

Pretty Wise

Zoo City cover designer Joey Hi-Fi’s Muti Monster was a grisly collection of animal parts, broken wings and a dismembered tail and mercurial droplets of the Undertow, a seething darkness from the book.

Nonnetjie by Elise Wessels sparked off the idea of the feminine spirit of the barn owl captured in a West African mask design.

And Willeen le Roux’s Bi-Polar Bare captured the struggle of the book’s noir-ish heroine, caught between the light side and the dark, with a sloth on her back and mischievous demons cavorting in her shadow.

I found The Suitcase Project through their wonderful book, The Suitcase Stories, which documents Glynis Clacherty’s art-therapy initiative that helps refugee children to come to terms with the trauma of fleeing war-torn countries and arriving in Johannesburg without their parents or family or any kind of support system.

Trauma, hostile environments and refugees are all themes of Zoo City and decorating art toys inspired by a fictional story to help kids who decorate suitcases as a way of telling their real stories seemed a perfect match.

The Bares were exhibited in Cape Town, Johannesburg and at Forbidden Planet in London in time for the Zoo City UK launch to drum up interest for the auction. But I still never expected the phenomenal response we had.

Glynis Clacherty, who started The Suitcase Project back in 2004, sent me an email to say that the funds have been shared out among the original kids, now grown up. The money is helping for one to study civil engineering at the University of Johannesburg, for another to set up her own small informal cooking business and to help a third finally realise his dream of becoming a nurse. She says, “He is at Netcare college and he proudly came to show me his uniform and his watch.”

Thanks so much to Lana Stevnic and for hosting the auction, Danie Ware at Forbidden Planet, Mandy J Watson at Brainwavez, Paul Cornell, Charlie-Jane Anders at io9, Lee Harris at Angry Robot and Adam Christopher aka @ghostfinder, Hello Vinyl, Elizabeth van Rensburg at Chew the Magazine and everyone else for helping to promote the Bares through RTs or blog posts or word of mouth.

Thanks too to Forbidden Planet, Exclusive Books Kloof Street, the good people at The Book Lounge and Nechama Brodie at Rhinestone Cowboy for exhibiting the Bares and to Am I Collective for donating the blank slates and the kindness of strangers on Twitter who have offered to help deliver the Bares to their respective new owners, flying them round the country and to London.

Huge thanks to everyone who bid and the winning buyers – and most gratitude of all to the designers and illustrators who crafted the most gorgeous unique artworks.

(Want more pics of the Bares? Brainwavez has great close-ups.)

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If you go down to the woods today… (Please RT)

…you’ll find that there’s less than 12 hours to go on the Zoo City Bares charity auction.


See all the Bares over at Brainwavez (with gorgeous macro-detail shots and easy links to individual bids).

Or get bidding straight away by heading over to and searching on “Zoo City Bares”. I’m expecting lots of last-minute action and while Borne Bare and Bi-Polar Bare are already over R2000, the others are still ridiculously affordable for one-of-a-kind artworks by shit-hot South African designers.

Don’t forget it’s for a good cause – all proceeds of the auction to The Suitcase Project and paying for school fees for refugee kids living in inner city Joburg.

Joey Hi-Fi

UPDATE: Zoo City cover-artist/Muti Monster Bare creator, Joey Hi-Fi has just let me know that he’s throwing in a series of his alter-ego postcards for whoever wins the Muti Monster bid.

They’re cool finder’s keepsakes – he’s been depositing them around Cape Town in random locations and I’m told that they may or may not represent the artist in various incarnations, although my favourite is the zombie Joey.

Joey Hi Fi PostcardJoey Hi Fi PostcardJoey Hi Fi PostcardJoey Hi Fi Postcard

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Lost in Translation

An international website picked up my previous blog post on the passel of Moxyland reviews, translated it into an Asian language (? anybody identify the kanji?) and back again into English.

The results are wonderful and hilarious.

Read it here:

“Make no mistake; Moxyland is a act on of artifices.”

“Very salubrious and perfect mavin glory come in novel” and gets perk points after coining the libretto “Stroctorow”

“packs all the dream in light of and self-reliance, giving Moxyland a distinguishable idiosyncrasy.”

And the characters are summed up thusly:

“a bountiful kid that is an distinct media impresario, a walking corporate pimples addicted photographer, a roadway activist, and a corporate programmer with defector sympathies.”


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What do you do when you’re not writing, or, “It’s not about the sex, it’s the game”

Virtual BabeLesbian alien love scenes, pomp-action mythological threesomes, health boosts from hookers and boobs with more realistic bounce. Despite the controversies and the lingering juvenilia, Lauren Beukes discovers that sex in video games seems to be growing up.

As these things go, it’s a pretty tame and surprisingly classy sex scene; evocative animated snapshots of a hint of arched back, a curve of buttock, lips parted in breathy desire, culminating in a blue hand thrown up against the wall in languid ecstasy. It’s about as debauched as your average perfume commercial, but that didn’t prevent Fox News condemning the hit sci-fi role-playing game, Mass Effect, as a “graphic sex simulator”. They should have been hailing it as the moment sex in video games finally grew up.

As 3D animation lecturer at Wits’ digital arts department and the presenter for Channel Go‘s Playr, Pippa Tshabala says, “It’s not about the sex, it’s the game” and in this case, it was the consummation of a long-running relationship arc played out over hours of gaming. The result is one of the most sensitive and mature portrayals of that most intimate of human acts in video game history.

But then, historically, games have not handled sex well.

It all dates back to the summer of 1972, when porn and gaming made their mainstream debut simultaneously with the release of the addictive paddle game Pong and a little movie called Deep Throat. According to Damon Brown, author of Porn and Pong: How Grand Theft Auto, Tomb Raider and Other Sexy Games Changed Our Culture – “It was a measure of where society was and how technology was going to change the way we interact with each other.” Boy did it ever.

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New book store / coffee shop in Johannesburg seeks authors

My friend, fabulous writer and doccie maker, Lindiwe Nkutha sent me a mail asking for help on behalf of her sister, Pokie, who hopes to launch a coffee shop / book store that will play host to cool lit events, readings, talks and artsy get-togethers.

She needs to show the bank that she’ll be able to pull in interesting authors and has put out a request for anyone who’d like to participate in such events to email her a letter for the finance guys… You can get her on “Buyisiwe, Clara Putu”

More info after the jump (more…)

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Vodacom prize – the winning columns

For anyone keen to read the actual columns in question that brought in a (joint) win as best columnist Western Cape in Vodacom’s Journalist of the Year Awards, I’ve posted them here.

With Teeth, is a regular fixture in The Big Issue, which supports the homeless and unemployed by providing them with a hand-up not a hand-out.

I’m thrilled to say it’s the second year in a row that the column has won the category.

• “Pest Control” looks at how Jacob Zuma might want to consider implementing an updated campaign against The Four Harms ala Mao Zedong. Only, whereas Chairman Mao declared war against sparrows, flies, mosquitoes and rats, the focus of the ANC President’s pest control programme is on tackling scorpions, weaselly former associates, bearish big business and, of course, putting down those mad mongrel dogs of the media.

• “Privacy” examines how Facebook and social networking sites have us willingly dishing up personal and sensitive information on our religious beliefs, political leanings and sexuality for free that oppressive governments would have paid a pretty penny for during the reign of the Stasi or Special Branch.

• “Mugabe is the next Al Gore” puts forward everyone’s favourite dictator for the role of global anti-consumerism campaign hero in the wake of last year’s riots in Zimbabwe, price-slashing and empty supermarket shelves.
Full columns after the jump…


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Merch Madness


It’s a little mad, I confess, to skip the movie rights* and go straight to merchandising, unless you’re JK Rowling, of course. But then Moxyland leans towards the slightly mad.

Considering the launch featured rabid animal rights protestors, mad science, a killer virus outbreak, an evidence easter-egg hunt and hipster Gestapo door keepers, dabbling in a little merch on the side seems positively sane in comparison.

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Syncing Up

Lauren Beukes reading at Moxyland launch Writers like to believe that their writing reflects the real world. But sometimes the synchronicity can be a little scary, especially when you thought you were writing about a crazy future and it turns out it’s all a little closer than you really feel comfortable with.

Moxyland always had its roots in real intersects of technology and culture. It’s based on surveillance society and RFID (radio frequency ID) chips built-in to passports, social networking and the Lucky Strike parties and brand ambassadors who get free kit.

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