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Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Janet van Eeden “Intereview”: Lauren Beukes and Zoo City

Zoo CitycarrotJanet van Eeden chatted with Lauren Beukes about Zoo City, which van Eeden calls “a parallel reality on speed”. Beukes talks about keeping her word-muscles flexed, precognition and writing dystopian South Africa. Van Eeden also reviews the book, giving it a straight up carrot:

Your writing is exceptionally descriptive. You create images which drip with cool street-smarts. For example, your description of Vuyo when Zinzi first meets him is that he is wearing “pointy shoes like shiny leather sharks”. We know immediately that this is a man not to be trusted. I deliberately don’t read other reviews or interviews about a writer or the book I’m reviewing so I don’t pick up things by osmosis, as it were. I know you were a journalist and write for an animated series which I’ve seen, but your acutely accurate use of words makes me think you have a background in advertising. Maybe the best way to frame this question is to ask you how you got into writing in the first place and what made you decide to write novels set in a dystopian South Africa?

Advertising?!? You cut me deep. I’ve never worked in advertising. (Apologies – it’s just that you make every word earn its keep, as advertisers do. JvE) It’s more the case that I’ve been writing professionally, practically every day, for the past 13 years. Those word muscles have had a lot of flexing (and I type like a dervish on amphetamines).

With Zoo City I was very much influenced by noir’s president-for-life, Raymond Chandler, who packs a ton of information into a couple of words of character description.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, since I was five, and I found out it was a viable career, that you could get paid to make stuff up. I took a detour along the way into journalism and I still juggle script-writing with novels, but I think that’s only helped my fiction, both in terms of journalism exposing me to strange and interesting things and developing an ear for dialogue (nothing like transcribing hours and hours and hours of interviews) and trying to keep my scenes short and punchy and filmic.

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