Zoo City by Lauren BeukesZoo City by Lauren Beukes

Zoo City

byLauren Beukes

Paperback | August 16, 2016

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A new paperback edition of Lauren Beukes's Arthur C Clarke Award-winning novel set in a world where murderers and other criminals acquire magical animals that are mystically bonded to them.
Zinzi has a Sloth on her back, a dirty 419 scam habit, and a talent for finding lost things. When a little old lady turns up dead and the cops confiscate her last paycheck, Zinzi's forced to take on her least favorite kind of job--missing persons.

Being hired by reclusive music producer Odi Huron to find a teenybop pop star should be her ticket out of Zoo City, the festering slum where the criminal underclass and their animal companions live in the shadow of hell's undertow. Instead, it catapults Zinzi deeper into the maw of a city twisted by crime and magic, where she'll be forced to confront the dark secrets of former lives--including her own.
Lauren Beukeswrites novels, comics and screeplays. She's the author of the critically-acclaimedBroken Monsters, the international best-seller,The Shining Girls, and the high-tech fableMoxyland. She worked as a journalist and as a show runner on one of South Africa's biggest animated TV shows, directed an award-winning documentary and w...
Title:Zoo CityFormat:PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1 inPublished:August 16, 2016Publisher:Little, Brown And CompanyLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0316267929

ISBN - 13:9780316267922


Rated 4 out of 5 by from A dangerous world from a deeply creative writer In present-day Johannesburg, a new kind of segregation is taking place: regular, law-abiding citizens are kept safe from the criminals, who have all been animalled. That’s the premise of Lauren Beukes’ brilliantly conceived Zoo City. When someone commits a heinous crime their guilt manifests in the appearance of an animal companion. The human and animal share a link, and the human also derives a special power, or shavi, from this connection. Ex-journalist, ex–drug addict Zinzi December has had her Sloth for a few years now because of her role in the death of her beloved brother. Zinzi is out of prison now and trying to pay off her substantial debts by writing scripts for e-mail 419 scams, and occasionally acting the part of the rescued Nigerian princess or savvy South African business partner when the poor suckers being scammed out of their life savings show up in Johannesburg. Then Zinzi is hired by a reclusive music mogul to find the missing twin sister in his youthful pop group sensation iJusi, and she finds herself thrust back into her shiny, celebrity- and drug-centred old life while she also explores the criminal underbelly of her new world. It isn’t entirely clear which part is worse, or more dangerous. Beukes does a good job of presenting us with a world just a little bit different from our own, with vastly different consequences. No one knows for sure why, in the 1990s, animal familiars started seeking out dangerous criminals, who become known as aposymbiots, or “zoos.” No one knows why these people experience intense pain if physically separated from their animal, or why, if the animal dies before the human, the very shadows come to life and swallow the hapless individual whole: the so-called Undertow. The writing is sharp, witty and evocative. Descriptions, such as the reclusive record producer’s house smelling like old vase water, Zinzi experiencing a headache “that could rip off the worst hangover’s head and piss down its neck,” or a particularly irritating problem as being akin to a public hair stuck between your teeth, each scene and each bit of dialogue is bang on, and the writing is a joy throughout. The use of traditional African religious motifs and medicine markets, along with religious and psychological frameworks that are thrust upon zoos, show what a mess the world is. It would have been interesting if Beukes had also explored questions of Apartheid or AIDS through the allegory of the animalled in a more overt way. Too, it isn’t clear if the ghettos into which the zoos are ostracized occur all over the world, or if this is unique to the South African experience. Perhaps Beukes wanted to be oblique about these obvious issues or didn’t want to focus her urban fantasy on these problems—not every book set in Africa needs to be Cry, the Beloved Country. Part of the book’s strength is that it doesn’t offer too many details about the zoo phenomenon, but it is also a weakness, because there is so much more that I’d like to see and know about. It leaves the reader feeling a bit frustrated and wanting. The ending, too, is rushed a bit and the pacing could be a bit more even. The setting, the ontological “shift,” and the first half the world-building story are more interesting than the ultimate finale and the resolution to the mystery Zinzi is trying to solve. Overall, Zoo City is a fun, enthralling, dangerous read. A work of immense scope, well-crafted characters, and great intrigue, I can only hope that Lauren Beukes is planning a second installment in this world. It’s too good a sandbox not to want to play in again.
Date published: 2012-02-23