Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What is Jacques Strauss reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Jacques Strauss, author of The Dubious Salvation of Jack V..

His entry begins:
I’ve just finished re-reading Boyhood, Youth and Disgrace by JM Coetzee. I’m a big fan of Coetzee. I was recently asked by someone if there was any point in writing books about South Africa and Apartheid and all that jazz when you have the likes of Coetzee and Gordimer around (which was an awfully mean question) and all I could say was, ‘Well … um possibly not.’In the developed West, where we are very rarely confronted with decisions of great moral import, we all seem to have a sweet but untested optimism in our own good character, in our virtuousness, our own propensity for heroism in the face of injustice or evil. Having grown up in South Africa I am deeply suspicious of anyone who thinks they would have done anything of significance – and I don’t mean voting for the Democratic Party or the PFP or joining the Black Sash – I mean Joe Slovo significant. To really...[read on]
Among the early praise for The Dubious Salvation of Jack V:
“[Jacques] Strauss’s often-hilarious debut captures a remarkable period of time without resorting to any heavy-handed political messaging. And in Jack he has created an unlikely, and utterly believable, voice of a generation. [A] profane, brutally honest portrait of tween angst.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Jack is a delight to follow, and despite his youth and his assertion that ‘I might have been precocious but I wasn't particularly smart,’ he proves himself to be a reliable narrator. Strauss uses the child to explore 1980s South Africa, aligning the changes the Viljee clan goes through with those their country is about to face . . . The strength of Strauss’s storytelling and the indelible impressions his creations make hijack the story in the best possible way. A well-crafted atmospheric debut.”
—­Publishers Weekly

“Yes, first novelist Strauss delivers a beautifully rendered coming-of-age story that simultaneously unfolds an understanding of life in apartheid South Africa, but what’s most remarkable here is the assured and fluid language. The ending is not melodrama but a quiet, brilliantly controlled bang. For all thoughtful readers.”
—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

“A terrific read. It’s smart, charming, funny, highly astute, and subtly political. It’s set in Johannesburg, but the story could map onto life anywhere.”
—Douglas Coupland, author of Generation X
Learn more about the book and author at Jacques Strauss's website.

Writers Read: Jacques Strauss.

--Marshal Zeringue