Sunderland by Michael Cope and Ken Barris

01 Jan 2014

Unhappily married Cape Town academic Art Berger is offered what appears to be a professional lifeline: to reconstitute the final papers of the great South African writer Charles de Villiers into the novel he was writing at the time of his death. He is uncomfortable about the role of ghostwriter, but the project becomes literary detective-work he cannot give up.

Introduce De Villiers’s beautiful daughter Taryn, and Art is ensnared. Sunderland alternates between sections, mostly in journal form, chronicling Art’s struggle to make sense of De Villiers’s fragmented and disordered text, and sections scenes, notes, outlines from that very work (also entitled ‘Sunderland’). This novel of ideas and of character is a fascinating collaboration by two of South Africa’s finest and most lauded wranglers of words.

Date of Publication: 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4314-1079-8
Websites: and
Publisher: Jacana Media
Reviews: “Full of surprises, and dazzlingly innovative, Sunderland draws the reader ever deeper into its web of narratives with each unfolding chapter.” – Craig MacKenzie, Professor of English, University of Johannesburg.

“A startlingly original work – a novel within a journal within a novel, adorned with eloquent excursions into marriage, love, betrayal, academia, art, literature and a deep meditation about plot, character, narrative and the nature of story.” – Steven Sidley.

“Mischievous, funny – and marvellously engineered – Sunderland bends the mind and warms the heart.” – Diane Awerbuck.