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Zoo City by Lauren Beukes September 12, 2012

Posted by stuffilikenet in Awesome, Books, Brilliant words.
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Zoo City was awarded the 2011 Arthur C. Clarke Award, the  2010 Kitschies Red Tentacle award (for best novel, as the book that "best elevates the tone of geek culture"???), and nominated for World Fantasy Award, the  BSFA Award (actually won for artwork on the cover–go figure), the 2010-2011 University of Johannesburg Creative Writing Prize,the 2011 M-Net Literary Awards and the Nielsen’s Booksellers’ Choice Award. Helena Spring won the film rights to Zoo City (the only movie she’s produced that I have seen is Cry, The Beloved Country, although I think American Kickboxer is something that people have at least heard of.  Surprisingly, I seem to have missed that one), but IMDB does not say it’s in production.  I think this would be hard to film coherently, although it reads like a dream due to Justine Eyre , the "Canadian-born, Philippine-raised, British-educated, Kiwi-fathered, multi-lingual actress and narrator" who sounds the part pretty convincingly for someone who isn’t from Johannesburg. She needs all the multi-lingualism she can get as she narrates this tale of <takes deep breath>

Zinzi December is the first-person present narrator of her comings and goings in the course of a missing persons noir thriller with supernatural overtones.  Overtones, hell; she has a familiar, as do all people worldwide who commit murder.  Her familiar is a sloth, a consequence of an apparent bad drug deal resulting in the death of her brother and loss of her ear.  With the familiar comes a magical talent; Zinzi can find lost things.  This would be great if this talent didn’t lead her into sewers, to live kidnappings and to mine tailing graveyards.  It would be nice not to have to use this talent, but she’s in debt up to her eyeballs to her drug dealer and earns him money by 419 scams (which she’s really good at writing up). 

Lauren Beukes’ style is delightfully complex, with first-person present narration forming the walls and framework and wikipedia entries, newsreadings, e-mail, SMS chats and newspaper reports making the gingerbread trimmings on this delicious house.

This review is frankly not doing the book justice; it’s just terrific.  I’m not sure anything can do it justice, but there’s a neat review of it at http://audiblesff.tumblr.com/post/13173509889/audiobook-review-zoo-city-by-lauren-beukes, which does a better job than I do.  Get the audiobook and be very, very happy you did.

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