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Wolf, wolf - Eben Venter

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Wolf, wolf - a novel
Eben Venter
Scribe UK
UK Publication Date

Shortlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Award 2014

How should a man be? Mattie Duiker is trying very hard to live up to his dying father's wishes. He is putting aside childish things, starting his first business serving healthy take-away food to the workers in his district of Cape Town. His Pa is proud.

At the same time, Mattie is pulled toward an altogether different version of masculinity, in which oiled and toned bodies cavort for him at the click of a mouse. His porn addiction both threatens his relationship with his boyfriend, Jack, and imperils his inheritance.

Pa's peacocking days as a swaggering businessman are done, but even as the cancer shrivels and crisps him, the old man's ancient authority intensifies as it shrinks, like Mattie's own signature sauce. Pa haltingly prepares his son for life without him, and himself for life without a male heir. And, while the family wrestles with matters of entitlement and inheritance, around them a new South Africa is quietly but persistently nudging its way forwards.

Wolf, Wolf is a novel of old rigid states and new unfinished forms, of stiff tolerance and mournful nostalgia. With uncommon sensitivity to place, time, and sex, Eben Venter reveals himself to the world outside his homeland as one of its most astute and acute observers, giving shape in story to some of the sea-changes of our time, in the manner of Coetzee and Roth.

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Eben Venter is the critically acclaimed author of Wolf, Wolf(Scribe, 2015). Hewas raised on a sheep farm in Eastern Cape, South Africa, and migrated to Australia in 1986. He has won numerous awards for his work, and currently holds an honorary appointment as professional associate in the Institute ofEnglish in Africa (ISEA) at Rhodes University.

'I am deeply impressed. An outstanding novel.'

J.M. Coetzee

'In Eben Venter's expert hands the ambivalent hot-house relations between a dying, old-school Afrikaner patriarch and his troubled, gay son comes to carry terrific political resonance without ever becoming clumsily schematic. Porn addiction, the challenges of intimacy, gay insecurity and hetero complacency are all thrown into the heady brew.'

Patrick Gale

'Wolf, Wolf is a deeply felt and deeply disturbing story. Like all the best dispatches from the modern world, it takes you to places you never expected to go - and challenges you to learn from what you find there.'

Neil Bartlett

'Wolf, Wolf is a novel of heart-stopping humanity, a chilling portrait of men shattered by the disappointments of inheritance and the brutality of the way we live now.'

Patrick Flanery

Wolf, Wolfis a slow burn: distressing, subtle and excellent.

Rebecca Gowers, author of When to Walk

'South Africa's shifting social topography underlies this slow-burn tale of a dying patriarch and his self-absorbed son ... Often caustic, sometimes tender ... [Wolf, Wolf is a] textured, slow-burning portrait of suburbia in transition.'
Financial Times - Hedley Twidle

'A stark study of arrested ethnicity ... Eben Venter has lived in Australia for decades but exile has sharpened his perspective. Wolf, Wolf is a mesmerising novel.'

The Guardian - Christopher Hope

'At the heart of Wolf, Wolf is the confluence of two recurrent tropes in recent South African fiction. The first, which explores the post-apartheid transition in an obviously allegorical way, features the return of an expatriate child, often to a parent's deathbed, sometimes to the farm ...The second is that of queer self-discovery, often in the context of familial or communal resistance ... In Wolf, Wolf, Venter's harnessing of both tropes serves to explore the cost of white privilege and the burden of inheritance or its expectation in South Africa's precarious present ... Venter's brave, lyrical novel offers neither consolation nor nostalgia, only a doomed sense of the inevitability of an accounting to come.'

Times Literary Supplement - Andrew Van Der Vlies

'What's striking about Venter is how thoroughly he has undone his own cultural and political formation as an "opregte Afrikanerseun" from a farming background: today he is in the front ranks of writing that "queers" the establishment - both the current one and its apartheid predecessor.
In my reading, Wolf, Wolf is a finely probing understanding, in the form of imaginative storytelling, of current social and human complexities.'

Financial Mail - Leon de Kock

'…Venter's artistry affords a richer pleasure than texts aiming at instant gratification.
Nothing in his sustained and careful exposition prepared me for the power of its unravelling in the last sixty pages. This is a masterful novel about people who lose control of themselves and their world, in the most literal and unsettling sense of the term.'

Cape Times - Ken Barris

'The honesty, the terror, the merciless and yes, the sheer nakedness of the characters makes Wolf, Wolf a book that has changed my life.' - Jaco Barnard

'Powerful ... a hard book to put down ... It is not surprising that Cape Times named it one of the 10 best books of 2013 or that it was shortlisted for the 2014 Sunday Times (South Africa) prize.'

The Saturday Paper

'Very well-written ... Venter has a punchy, vivid style, with a lot of unusual sentence constructions that flow really well together ... A rewarding and satisfying read.'

Irish Independent - Darragh McManus

New edition
Keyword Index
Gays - South Africa - Cape Town - Fiction.|Gay men - South Africa - Cape Town - Fiction.|Fathers and sons - South Africa - Cape Town - Fiction.|Cape Town (South Africa) - Social conditions - Fiction.
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
Number of Pages

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