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Wolf, Wolf

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Original Language: English (SA) | 263 pp. | March 2015

2 Seas Represents: Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish and Icelandic rights.

Rights Sold: UK & Commonwealth (Scribe).

LITERARY FICTION

A superb demonstration of storytelling acumen and moral purposefulness.

Winner of the kykNET-Rapport award for best Afrikaans novel in 2014!

I am deeply impressed. An outstanding novel. – J. M. Coetzee

Wolf, Wolf is a mesmerising novel… Matt Duiker rings true – stuck between the old South Africa now passing away, and a new world painfully coming into being. – The Guardian

Brilliant, emitting flashes of light, but brutal and, dare I say it, loosely, in the lineage of the great Coetzee, with an all-seeing narrator so tough on himself and also in its lurch towards a day of reckoning. – The Sunday Morning Herald

It’s very well-written – Venter has a punchy, vivid style, with a lot of unusual sentence constructions that flow really well together. Emotionally, psychically, even spiritually if that’s your thing, Wolf, Wolf makes for a rewarding and satisfying read. – Irish Independent

Eben Venter. You might remember the name from the 1990s when he made a big splash in SA fiction with My Beautiful Death, which approached the subject of AIDS in southern Africa in a way then unprecedented. Since then Venter has entirely unjustly dropped off the radar outside SA. He has re-emerged with a novel, Wolf, Wolf, which is utterly superb. It asks: 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, taking responsibility. His patriarchal, conservative Pa is proud. But at the same time, Mattie is pulled toward an altogether other version of masculinity, in which oiled and toned bodies cavort for him at the click of a mouse. His porn addiction both threatens his relationships and imperils his inheritance… Suffice it to say that, as with JM Coetzee’s Disgrace, Patrick Flanery’s Absolution or Damon Galgut’s The Good Doctor, Venter’s Wolf, Wolf embodies some of the crucial changes in post-apartheid South Africa in the struggles of identity, principle and inheritance between the generations in Afrikaner society. But as well as its particular local virtues it is also a universally compelling novel about fathers and sons, models of masculinity, the limits to tolerance in a family, the difficulties of sexual freedom and social purpose, the irruption of unseen power shifts, oh, and the joy to be found in beautiful German cars… There is something of Turgenev in it, as much as it is reminiscent of more recent writers who use story to interrogate social and attitudinal change in a culture, like Margaret Atwood or Philip Roth.

Like Coetzee, Eben Venter left South Africa for Australia, where he now lives and cooks in the Byron Bay area. His writing has won many awards in South Africa, and he has taught at Rhodes University. With uncommon sensitivity to place, time and sex, Wolf, Wolf will reveal Eben Venter 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.