Sunday, October 9, 2011

100 Books 53 - Lauren Beukes' ZOO CITY

A lot of my friends recommended this book to me, and boy am I glad I 1) took their advice and 2) got around to it sometime this year.

This, my friends, is an utterly unique and utterly entertaining read.

Set in a Johannesburg, South Africa in which a certain kind of magic (muti) works and in which the commission of a crime or other serious sin earns one an animal (that may or may not, via the cultural associations we have with that animal, be a commentary on the sin itself) as a constant companion much in the mode of the daemons of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, this story of a hip young music journalist gone to seed has a vibe and an energy and a logic like no other. The world is seedy and compelling and sexy and utterly believable, which offsets what is otherwise a fairly ordinary private investigator/crime/noir plotline and makes it so fresh you can almost taste it.

Our heroine, Zinzi, basically stood by and watched her brother die, and is now accompanied by a sloth, who mutely comments throughout the story on Zinzi's actions and inactions as she investigates -- partly via her shavi, or the power that came with her sloth, for finding lost objects -- the disappearance of a pair of twins who are Jo'burg's latest pop music sensation.

It's the literary equivalent of an exceptionally rich bowl of gumbo followed by some really strong black coffee and I loved every second of it.

And it appears I'm not alone in thinking so, because Zoo City won the Arthur C. Clarke Award. Well deserved!

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    Apologies for the off-topic comment, but I couldn't find a contact email for you.

    I've recently put out an ebook of my writing, called 'The New Death and others'. It's mostly short fantasy stories, as well as poems which retell stories by Robert E Howard, HP Lovecraft, Lord Dunsany and Clark Ashton Smith.

    I was wondering if you'd be interested in doing a review on your blog.

    If so, please let me know your email, and what file format is easiest for you, and I'll send you a free copy. You can email me ( or reply to this thread.

    You can download a sample from the ebook's page on Smashwords:

    I'll also link to your review from my blog.



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