Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

08 Jun 2010
Zoo City

Zinzi has a talent for finding lost things. To save herself, she has to find the hardest thing of all…the truth. Zinzi December has a Sloth on her back, a dirty 419 scam habit and a talent for finding lost things. But when a client turns up dead and the cops confiscate her last paycheque, she’s forced to take on her least favourite kind of job – missing persons. Being hired by famously reclusive music producer Odi Huron to find an AWOL pop star should be her ticket out of Zoo City, the festering slum where the criminal underclass, marked by their animals, live in the shadow of the undertow. Instead, it catapults Zinzi deeper into the underbelly of a city twisted by crime and magic, where she’ll be forced to confront the dark secrets of former lives – including her own. Set in a wildly re-imagined Johannesburg, it swirls refugees, crime, the music industry, African magic and the nature of sin together into a heady brew.

Like Moxyland which had its own line of Moxy toys and an official soundtrack, Zoo City has some fantastic spin-offs.

The official Zoo City soundtrack from African Dope features a mix of indie kwaito, hip-hop and electronica put together by Dope’s honeyb to complement the gritty urban fable.

The Zoo City Bares are 40cm limited edition vinyl toys from Am I Collective and customised by hot local designers inspired by the novel. The Bares will be auctioned online with all proceeds going to The Suitcase Project, a charity organisation that works with refugee kids in Hillbrow, where Zoo City is set.

Websites: laurenbeukes.com, Zoo City trailer and Zoo City soundtrack.
Publisher: Jacana (South Africa) and Angry Robot Books (rest of world)
Reviews: “Lauren Beukes is very, *very* good. It feels effortless, utterly accomplished.” – William Gibson.

“If our words are bullets, Lauren Beukes is a marksman in a world of drunken machine-gunners, firing her ideas with a sly and deadly accuracy. I’ll follow her career as long as she’s willing to write and I’m able to read.” – Bill Willingham (Creator of Fables).

“I couldn’t put this down. It’s weird, thrilling, funny… filled with sleazy characters and lots of bad attitude. In short: a blast.” – Mike Nicol (Author of Killer Country).

“Lauren Beukes is Jeff Noon crossed with Raymond Chandler. I loved it, it’s going to be huge.” – Paul Cornell (Doctor Who, Captain Britain).

“An unforgettable cast of characters and a storyline too outlandishly original to put down make Zoo City a sure bet for instant classic status.” – Victor Dlamini.

“A pacey, hard-edged affair that is hard to put down once it’s sunk its claws into you. This is intelligent and witty urban writing for the 21st century: unashamedly South African yet thoroughly metropolitan; wildly entertaining, yet richly nuanced. Zoo City reaffirms Beukes as one of South Africa’s most imaginative new literary voices.” – Andreas Späth, Women24.com.

“Zany and zoonique.” – Kopano Matlwa (Coconut).

S”et around a terrifying supernatural version of contemporary Hillbrow and, truthfully, not all that different from much of the real-life suburb, barring the voodoo, Zoo City is a dark thriller that uses threads of raw magic and primitive spirits as its narrative? Beukes imagines a Joburg that is frighteningly accurate and simultaneously impossible. Like her other fiction works, this one is fast, frenzied, twisted and breathtaking.” – Nechama Brodie, The Sunday Times.

“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.” – Matthew du Plessis, The Times.

“Beautifully written, Zoo City is by far a work of pure literary wonder. Beukes does not simply write a story, she crafts a world and brings it to life with words. As Zoo City sinks its animalistic teeth into readers, they will find themselves unable to put the book down. This novel shows a command of the English language that every author should strive for. It manages to be lyrical, witty, engaging and literary without alienating the audience.” – Lood du Plessis, Exclus1ves.co.za.