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Zulu by Caryl Ferey
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17610100,985 (4.13)15

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Showing 5 of 5
Oh geez.... oh crap.... this was quite the intense noir thriller ride! Having previously read Ferey's Utu, a noir crime novel set in New Zealand, I thought I had an idea of what I was in for with this one. I should mention that I don't do well with hard core violence or pretty much anything produced by Quentin Tarantino but I have to say, Ferey even blew away my expectations with this one, producing a fascinating, A page-turning story that gripped my attention to the very end. Yes, some of the violence was a little hard - okay, really darn difficult - for me to take. That beach scene was OMG bad. I found myself putting the book down more than a couple of times and walking away for 20 minutes, just to let me digest what I had just read and prep myself for potential further uneasiness. Wow. Just Wow. Some of the graphic violence depicted is really intense - which some readers may wish to avoid - but if you do, you will be missing out on a spectacular crime noir read.

Ferey digs deep and really brings home social criticism of the post-apartheid landscape, a place still very much heaving with violence, drug lords and overall corruption. Seriously, after reading this, I would be horrified to visit Cape Town. Ferey has done such an amazing job showing the underbelly of the playground for the rich and the shocking destitution of the shanty townships. Ferey wrote this story in real time - against the looming backdrop of the 2010 World Cup that would take place in 2 years time, post publication. The South African apartheid was both political and racial. This story focuses on the multicultural nature of South Africa and the myriad of opportunists that flooded the region, morals be damned. I can totally see why this one was the 2008 winner of the French Grand Prix for Best Crime Novel. A worthy win, IMO. ( )
1 vote lkernagh | Jul 2, 2018 |
Good but exceptionally brutal. I'm reading Virginia Woolf next. ( )
  ltfitch1 | Jun 5, 2016 |
Unbelievably violent, amazingly confrontational, searingly honest and profoundly emotional, ZULU is one of those books that you may have to read through spread fingers, but it is almost impossible to put this book down until it screeches to an ending that will make you shudder.

This is noir, critical, brutal writing at it's absolute best. The "Zulu" of the title refers not so much to the tribe as a whole, but to Cape Town homicide captain Ali Neuman. Heading up the investigation into the death of a young woman whose body is found with a crushed skull, Neuman accepts that his job must sometimes mean that he's put in difficult situations. His profound belief in the job he does comes from his childhood - when he was a young boy he was forced to watch the ritualised murders of his father and brother. He grew up with an overwhelming desire to put an end to the lawlessness that plagues his country. Regardless of other people's reactions to him or the colour of his skin.

There's nothing particularly uncommon about the idea that a central protagonist is fighting his own demons, or even battling against unsympathetic or antagonist authorities. What is different in the portrayal of these elements in ZULU is the context. Neuman's demons are the violent murders of his brother and father; the political complications of South African society; the appalling violence and disadvantage of the townships; attacks on his elderly mother. Murder rates that are simply breathtaking; AIDS; desperation; the disregard for life - it's all laid bare, raw and yet, there's also some sense of poignancy. There's love, affection, regard and concern for others. There's even humour and acceptance. Put all of that into a book that is written with a cynical, forthright style that is absolutely no holds barred. Then add more ways of killing and maiming and hurting people than even in your worst moments you couldn't have dreamed up and build the action and the reader's interest into a really interesting and likeable central protagonist. Then tear the rule book up and add a twist at the end that will just blow some readers out of the water, and what you've got is an intelligent, thought-provoking, frightening, fascinating and unputdownable book about a society that is still dealing with the impacts of Apartheid and profound societal upheaval.

ZULU isn't a book that is going to do much for the South African tourism industry, but it is a book that simply took my breath away. ( )
  austcrimefiction | Apr 12, 2011 |
Another outstanding police procedural out of South Africa. The title may be misleading, because this is not, as might be expected, a novel about the Zulu tribe itself, but features a captain of Homicide in Cape Town, Ali Neuman, who is Zulu. Neuman heads up the investigation of the brutal murder of Nicole Weiss, whose body is found with her skull crushed, in a botanical garden. Her father is Afrikaaner, prominent in Cape Town sports and a member of the Afrikaaner elite. Under heavy pressure, Neuman’s investigation leads to evidence of the distribution of dangerous new drugs and a chilling conspiracy.

This is a grim novel, a noir, but one of the best I’ve read in a long, long time. The writing is excellent, the characters well-developed--and there are fascinating parallels with the Cape Town of Deon Meyer; Kayelitsha is familiar as are some of the Cape Town landmarks, from his novels. As in Meyer’s books, the relationships between and within the races are explored in what appears to be an objective description of the South Africa of today and the impact of the outside world on Africa.

Highly recommended. ( )
2 vote Joycepa | Dec 19, 2010 |
Good book. A tough read though, because of the realistic and frightening violence. The characters are well-formed and well-developed; they behave like real people -- and the author's treatment of them is as rough as real life, too. ( )
  NatalieSW | Dec 7, 2010 |
Showing 5 of 5
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Be the tiny blade of grass:
greater than the spindle of the whole world's mass...
-Atilla Jozsef
(translated by Zsusanna Ozvath and Frederick Turner)
To my friend Fred Couderc
whose giant's wings taught me to fly
and his wife, Laurence,
a nervous glider.

Zone Libre,
for the sound-full volume.
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Are you scared, little man?
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Book description
As a child, Ali Neuman ran away from home to escape the Inkatha, a militant political party at war with the then-underground African National Congress. He and his mother are the only members of his family that survived the carnage of those years and the psychological scars remain.

Today, Neuman is chief of the homicide branch of the Cape Town police, a job in which he must do battle with South Africa’s two scourges: widespread violence and AIDS. When the mutilated corpse of a young white woman is found in the city’s botanical gardens, Neuman’s job gets even more difficult. He is chasing one false lead after another when a second corpse, again that of a white woman, is found. This time, the body bears signs of a Zulu ritual. A new evil has insinuated itself into this recently integrated city. And a new drug: traces of an unknown narcotic have been found in the blood of both victims. The investigation will take Neuman back to his homeland, where he will discover that the once bloody killing fields have become the ideal no-man’s land for unscrupulous multinationals, and that the apparatchiks of apartheid still lurk in the shadows and the back rooms of a society struggling toward reconciliation.

~ From Europa Editions
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Ali Neuman, the chief of the Cape Town police crime unit, investigates the murder of Nicole Wiese, found in the city's botanical gardens, and the trail soon leads him to a brutal narcotics gang with links to a former official.

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