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Zoo City Paperback – July 19, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Angry Robot (July 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857662163
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857662163
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #226,079 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

A Publisher's Weekly Best of 2011 Sci Fi & Fantasy Pick!

"Beukes's energetic noir phantasmagoria, the winner of this year's Arthur C. Clarke Award, crackles with original ideas." --Jeff VanderMeer, New York Times Book Review

"Beukes (Moxyland) delivers a thrill ride that gleefully merges narrative styles and tropes, almost single-handedly pulling the "urban fantasy" subgenre back towards its groundbreaking roots." - Publisher's Weekly, starred review

"Zoo City is a fabulous outing from an extremely promising writer... [it] has so much fabulous wordplay, imaginative settings and scenarios, and such a dark and cynical heart that I was totally riveted by it." - Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing

“In Zoo City we have an unfamiliar land full of familiars, a broken Johannesburg
of the near future peopled with damaged wonders. Proving her debut novel was no fluke, she writes better than I wish I could on my best day. If our words are bullets, Lauren Beukes is a marksman in a world of drunken machine-gunners, firing her ideas and images into us with a sly and deadly accuracy, wasting nothing, never missing. I’ll follow her career as long as she’s willing to write and I’m able to read.” - Bill Willingham, creator of Fables

Zoo City is a story of mysteries unfolding, and it is a story well told. But it’s the world around the story, and the words that guide us through, that make it something more than simply marvellous. With her subtle, intimate descriptions of the roads we walk in this crazy city; with characters so deeply twisty you could lose a giant squid in their nebulous hidey holes, and with turns of phrase that are as likely to conjure up Rudyard Kipling, Brenda Fassie or Credo Mutwa as they are to invoke Japanese anime, Doctor Who or the crack in Johnny Cash’s voice as he sings of his greatest loss, this canny authoress has brought real magic to everyday life in Jozi, in what I’m afraid I really am going to end off by describing as an act of unadulterated literature.” - Matthew du Plessis, Times Live

"This book is a must read for lovers of South African fiction and urban fantasy alike. It is edgy and pacey and like a rollercoaster ride, it sweeps you up, spins you around, turns you upside down and dumps you out on the other end, heady and breathless and yearning for more." - Exclus1ves

"
Lauren Beukes is an awfully smart writer. In Zoo City her characters ooze attitude, their dialogue is snappy, and her vivid imagery is both original and arresting. What’s more, with an inspired blend of pop-culture savvy and fantasy (just enough, not too much), her depiction of Johannesburg, magical charms and all, feels eerily real... In fact, it feels as incomplete as real life. It’s gritty, it’s tangled and it’s flawed; nothing is polished, nothing perfect. That’s what makes Zoo City so disturbingly, hauntingly, uncompromisingly brilliant." - Jonno Cohen, MiniMonologues

"
At times the witty and lyrical prose is sheer magic, the story captivating and the characters exotic, cruel and beautiful while the backdrop of Johannesburg seeths with hidden, lurking dangers around every corner, Zoo City is quite simply captivating." - SciFi & Fantasy Books

"
Returning with her second release from Angry Robot, Lauren Beukes stuns with a richly textured venture into a pseudo-fantastical Johannesburg of the future where criminals are magically partnered with animals, and unscrupulous record producers run amok." --SciFiNow

"We all know there is a fine line between genius and madness. So it is with Zoo City ... a story that is remarkable for both its inventiveness and the sharpness of its writing."
- Jason Baki, Kamvision

"A contrast of fragility and extreme imaginative strength, Beukes’s books are going places. She’d better ready herself for one helluva wild ride." - Mandy De Waal, The Daily Maverick

"Beukes has written a book about something deeply important, but she’s willing to stand back and let us figure it out for ourselves." - www.pornokitsch.com

"If you don’t read Zoo City, you’re missing out on one of the best modern books in and outside the fantasy genre." -www.TheRantingDragon.com

"Beukes’s future city is as spiky, distinctive and material a place as any cyberpunkopolis, and quit a bit fresher. The narrative is brisk and well turned, but the great achievement here is tonal: atmospheric, smart and memorable work." -www.locusmag.com

"Ms. Beukes' amazing novel takes the genre to exciting new places, is beautifully written and is a bloody good story." -www.pornokitsch.com, on winning the Red Tentacle Award

"From grimy slums to gang warfare to supernatural horrors, Zoo City is a book of hard edges and nasty surprises. It's also livened up by stabs of sharp, black humour, and the action is unrelenting." - Warpcore SF

"Lauren Beukes brings to Zoo City the observant, cynical eye for the intersection of media, business, and pop culture that animated her debut, Moxyland, and pairs it with a funny, colloquial, and casually poetic first-person narrator and thriller pacing to take urban fantasy to the next level." -www.ideomancer.com


"Zoo City is pure originality ... a book that had me reading it revelling in Beukes' magical way with words." - SF Signal

"Go and read Zoo City and Moxyland by Lauren Beukes – someone took cyberpunk from the toy box, dusted it up and spanked it to shape for the new millennium." -Janos Honkonen, Vornasblogi

"The novel’s greatest triumph is undoubtedly its richly evocative world, at once hostile and compelling, deadly and seductive. It sucks you in and plants your feet firmly on its grimy city pavements, and despite the danger that awaits you around every corner, you can’t help but run to get there, to find the next macabre treasure." -Vianne Venter, Something Wicked

"Beukes does the thing that everyone is always saying writers need to do: Show, don’t tell."
-Brain vs. Book


From the Paperback edition.

About the Author

LAUREN BEUKES is a writer, TV scriptwriter and recovering journalist. For the sake of a story, she’s jumped out of planes and into shark-infested waters and hung out with teen vampires, township vigilantes, and AIDS activists among other interesting folk. When she’s not tutoring her baby daughter in practical ways to take over the world, she also writes books, short stories, magazine articles and TV scripts.


From the Paperback edition.

More About the Author

Lauren Beukes writes books, comics for DC Vertigo, movie scripts, TV shows and occasionally journalism.

She won the Arthur C Clarke Award and The Kitschies Red Tentacle for Zoo City, a gritty phantasmagorical noir about magical animals, pop music, refugees, murder and redemption in the slums of inner city Johannesburg. She is currently adapting the novel as a screenplay for Oscar-nominated producer Helena Spring.

Her debut novel, Moxyland is about a neo-corporate apartheid state, bio-engineered art, nano-branding, cell phones used for social control and terrorism.

The Shining Girls, out May/June 2013 is about a time-travelling serial killer.

She recently made her comics debut in the Fables universe with a Fairest mini-series called The Hidden Kingdom with art by Inaki Miranda. The six issue arc follows Rapunzel travelling to Tokyo to confront a dark secret from her past.

She also writes for kids TV shows including Florrie's Dragons and Mouk and co-created South Africa's first half hour animated show: The Adventures of Pax Afrika.

She's a recovering journalist, who has covered everything from wannabe teenage vampires to township vigilantes and directed a documentary, Glitterboys & Ganglands about South Africa's biggest female impersonation beauty pageant, which won Best LGBT at the Atlanta Black Film Festival.

She lives in Cape Town, South Africa, with her husband and daughter.



Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Lisa (Starmetal Oak Reviews) on January 13, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Going into Zoo City, I didn't know what to expect. This is my first novel by Lauren Beukes, but I have heard great things about her other novel, Moxyland. What I found was a very unique and exciting experience in an urban fantasy world, one I haven't enjoyed as much since I read War for the Oaks by Emma Bull.

The story centers around Zinzi December, a young woman living in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her life isn't going so great, having once had a job as a journalist, she is now writing scam emails to pay back a large debt. Things change when she is approached by a music producer who wants to hire her to find a missing recording artist. You see, Zinzi has a special gift: she can find lost things. Not people, she insists, but she cannot turn down the job, which can essentially pay enough to cover her debt and beyond.

Zinzi can find lost things because that's her ability she manifested when she became Animalled. In the world Beukes has created, something called the Zoo Plague emerged, causing anyone who commits criminal acts (we don't know the extent of the requirements) is bonded to an animal for life. This situation is coined Acquired Aposymbiotic Familiarism and no one really know why or how it works. We are shown very little, mostly through separate pieces of information such as web pages or magazine/newspaper articles.

Zinzi was burdened with a Sloth (and that's what she calls it). One of the fascinating aspects of this novel is realizing and imagining what kind of an effect this sort of thing could have on society. Zinzi murdered her brother and she will forever be seen as an Animalled. Society has shunned these people, creating a whole new social class beneath everything else. Some have even used this to gain fame.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By S. Duke on February 4, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When my friend and I asked Lauren Beukes to describe Zoo City, she understandably remarked that the book is rather difficult to explain. Zoo City isn't like a lot of books. On the one hand it is a noir murder mystery with a semi-New Weird slant, but on the other it is a novel about refugees, the music industry, South Africa, guilt, revenge, drugs, prejudice, poverty, and so much more. It is a gloriously complicated novel with equally complicated characters. You might even call it a brilliant example of worldbuilding from outside of the traditional modern fantasy genre.

Zoo City is concerned with Zinzi December, a former convict who, like many others, must bear the
mark of her crime in the form of a semi-intelligent animal -- in her case, it's a sloth. But there's also the Undertow -- a mysterious force that some claim is Hell reaching out for the damned souls of aposymbiots like Zinzi. Aposymbiosis, however, isn't all bad. Every aposymbiot is gifted with an ability. Some can create protective charms while others can dampen magical fields. Zinzi can see the threads that connect people to their lost things. And that's how she survives: finding things for people for a modest fee. But when she takes on a job from a music producer to find a missing girl, things get sticky. Her employer isn't who he seems and the person she's trying to find might be running for a good reason. Toss in her debts to a shady organization of email scammers, her complicated relationship with her refugee lover, a murder, and the seedy underbelly of a Johannesburg trying to deal with its new "problem" and you have a complex story about South Africa, its people, and its culture.

Zoo City is immense in its complexity, despite having the allure of a typical genre romp.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Charles Kress on November 12, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I admit I was a bit curious about "Zoo City", though hesitant due to the lack of reviews.

We are initially introduced to Zinzi December. Though at first she seems a bit grubby and stark, we soon learn that there's a lot more to her then first meets the eye.

Zinzi December is really an amazing woman (and let's not forget her Sloth, her 'magical ally' [who would have thought a sloth could be so endearing]) with the ability to find lost things by following their psychic cords. Sure she has some faults, but her heart is in the right place, and she is a quick learner, even if she has lived the fast life and done her share of dark deeds.

As for the story, once it gets going, hang onto you hats, 'cause it's a whirlwind ride. This is a dark, devilishly cunning, piece of writing. Zinzi, with her wits pushed to the edge to survive, is a force to be reckoned with, but as in real life we are not so sure who prevails in the end. Still I hope there will be more books with her. I really like Zinzi December's style.

Thanks to Lauren Beukes for a great story.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Robin L. McLaughlin on May 12, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am recommending Zoo City, but not to just anyone.

Zoo City is written in first person present tense. I'm fine with first person, but present tense tends to bug me. Someone who doesn't like either would probably be more irritated than not by the book.

The bit with being bonded to animals is, to be blunt, bizarre and beyond making any sense. Buekes somehow manages to make it work anyway. It's a case of not merely suspending disbelief, but tossing disbelief completely to the wayside. As long as you can do that and just go with it, you won't be bothered by the complete lack of logic. And in fact I enjoyed that aspect despite, and maybe because of, the huge risk the author took with it. Zinzi would seem naked without Sloth.

Because the book is by a South African author it contains a lot of words and slang that an American reader will not understand. (I'm guessing, but some seems to be Afrikaans and some Zulu or something similar.) There's also a lot of Brit slang and the book is full of pop culture references. Many of them an American reader will get, and some they won't. This didn't detract from the reading for me as I really enjoy books that immerse me in a different culture in this manner. It's a way to learn about other parts of the world while being entertained at the same time.

Some parts of the plot are predictable, intentionally so since the author provides enough hints. But even with that, how you get there is often highly unpredictable. Which makes it fun. Buekes is a good writer and very clever with her wordsmithing. I don't think she's as strong in the storytelling department though. While I definitely enjoyed the book, I also felt there was a certain indefinable something lacking that left the story seeming a bit hollow at times.
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