Zoo City

Lauren Beukes
Zoo City Cover

Zoo City


While I'm catching up on WOGF reviews, September's read was Lauren Beukes' Zoo City, which is about South African pop music and people with magical animal familiars, in that order.

I'm late to the Zoo City party, so the reader has probably heard already that it's pretty great, but I can only reiterate that the combination of magical realism and noir is really fun and interesting. Beukes manages the pretty difficult trick of introducing a cool magic system for the reader to geek out about while simultaneously not letting us forget that this is a story about really messed up people who do really messed up things.

Zoo City is very much set in the real world, more specifically the real Johannesburg, and South African pop culture comes into it quite a lot. Unfortunately, it's not the greatest introduction to South African pop culture, so somebody like me who could write all they know about the subject on the back of a postage stamp is liable to get a bit lost at times. Since this is clearly my fault and not Beukes', I can't really count it as a point against the book. It might be a good idea for ignoramuses like me to skim a Wikipedia article or two before diving in, though.

If you haunt the same parts of the internet as me, you've already heard all about how great the setting and the story and the writing are, and it's all true. I won't belabour the point. It's a really good book, it should be on your reading list, and I'll be seeking out more of her stuff.

Cross posted on Goodreads.