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May 3, 2013

An Uncaged Vision

TIME TRAVELLER: Lauren Beukes is thinking about writing a Western or a 'cool' apartheid story sometime soon

TIME TRAVELLER: Lauren Beukes is thinking about writing a Western or a ‘cool’ apartheid story sometime soon

Tymon Smith speaks to Lauren Beukes, who shot to fame with her sci-fi novel ‘Zoo City’, about her latest book.

Lauren Beukes is certainly a shining girl of the local and international fiction scene, but unlike the women in her latest novel, who earn the label of shining, she’s not due for a visit from a time-travelling serial killer any time soon.

Winner of the 2011 Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction for her previous novel Zoo City , “a gritty phantasmagorical noir” set in the slums of inner-city Johannesburg, Beukes’s career has gone supernova at a speed that so many others only dream of. She has an international multibook deal – “somewhere in the six-figure range” – and plaudits from every corner of the globe. But as she reminds me over breakfast in a Joburg guesthouse: “To be a full-time novelist is a huge privilege and it’s what I’ve wanted to be since I was five years old. It’s only taken me 30 years to get here.”

Beukes – blonde with sparkling eyes, a slight accent (the result of two years in the US), a forthright intelligence and a self-deprecating sense of humour – is easy to like, even when she’s talking about serial killers and violence against women over fruit salad.

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January 25, 2013

Interview: Joey Hi-Fi and Lauren Beukes’ The Shining Girls

Filed under: Interviews — Tags: , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 9:08 pm

ShiningThe South African cover of Lauren Beukes’ The Shining Girls!

This edition (click it to embiggen) re-unites Lauren Beukes with award-winning artist, film critic and Twitter guru Joey Hi-Fi. But unlike his stunning illustrated covers for Zoo City and Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds, Mr. Hi-Fi has gone in a different direction with The Shining Girls. Curious about this (and many other matters of the heart), we pushed a few questions at him through the tubes of the Internet.

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August 27, 2012

The writer who tamed monsters


The cover of Fairest, a comic by Lauren Beukes

The First Lady of dark urban fiction, Lauren Beukes, is going international very fast. Charl Blignaut tries to catch up

Lauren Beukes has Freedom. It’s an app for your computer that locks you out of the internet so you can do some damn work.

If that’s what’s helped her stick to a gruelling deadline schedule since she won the Arthur C Clarke Award for Zoo City last year, then Freedom should make her their spokesperson.

But I suspect it’s just a minor trick in the retrofuturist handbag of the new queen of South African speculative fiction. Or just queen, because I don’t recall one before her.

Zoo City shattered a mould. It cast a gritty universal fantasy over Joburg while retaining an authentic local idiom. In it, Hillbrow is a ghetto where, through a primal force, convicted murderers are coupled with an animal as a shackle and a guide. The heroine, Zinzi, has a bad attitude and a sloth.

Sound a bit silly? Read it.

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November 29, 2011

SA producer wins Zoo City film rights

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The highly sought-after film rights to Zoo City – the 2011 Arthur C Clarke award-winning science fiction/cyberpunk/urban fantasy thriller penned by South African author, scriptwriter and journalist Lauren Beukes – have gone to Helena Spring, widely regarded as one of SA’s most accomplished motion picture producers.

Beukes (@laurenbeukes) told, “I’m thrilled Helena optioned it. She’s got a fantastic reputation and a ton of experience. We’ve already started working on the script and it’s great to see how her mind works. She asks all the right questions, really gets structure, the rigours of adaptation and is pushing this to be the best thing it can be, while maintaining its distinctive Joburg flavour.

“It’s just the first step”

“It’s just the first step, of course. Movies take a long time to make (that pesky raising-millions-of-dollars thing) but I think it’s in fantastic hands and it’s a privilege to be able to work on the script. Most novelists don’t get to do that (or don’t want to).”

Spring will soon be putting the project out to a select party of directors, while Beukes has first look as screenwriter to adapt her novel for the screen.

“Lauren is perfectly placed to do this; the characters are alive inside her,” says Spring, whose career in the entertainment industry spans nearly three decades, during which time she has produced over 20 motion pictures. This includes the first-ever SA film to receive recognition at the Academy Awards; in 2004, Darrell Roodt’s Yesterday earned a Best Foreign Picture nomination. She has also worked with some of the foremost filmmakers in the world, such as Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Supremacy and (The Bourne Ultimatum), and Academy Award-winner Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech).

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October 10, 2011

Bidding frantic for Beukes’ thriller

Lauren Beukes

| By Charlotte Williams

A high-concept thriller is currently the subject of a five-way UK publisher auction, with North American rights already sold to Mulholland Books by Oliver Munson of Blake Friedmann.

Editor John Schoenfelder acquired The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes, author of Zoo City (Angry Robot) and winner of this year’s Arthur C Clarke award, and one other novel in the deal. The Shining Girls will be published in spring 2013, with Munson describing it as “a high concept thriller about a time travelling serial killer”.

It is understood three UK publishers tried to pre-empt the titles, two offering six-figure sums, and Munson is currently holding a UK auction with five publishers in the running with bidding at six-figures in the first round. He also expects to hold a South African auction, with German rights in the two books pre-empted by Rowohlt. more

September 12, 2011

Lightening up the fest

Where to from here? The audience at last weekend’s M&G LitFest looked a lot like it did when the Weekly Mail launched its original literary festival in 1988. (Oupa Nkosi)


In the darkened foyer of the Market Theatre last Sunday morning South Africa’s science fiction It Girl was forced to defend herself against rumours that had emanated from the main ­theatre just minutes before.

Standing in front of the Boekehuis Bookshop table, which was offering stacks of some of South Africa’s best current literature, Lauren Beukes explained to a fan that she had not actually said at a recent Cape Town book launch that she was sick and tired of “boring memoirs of old
white farts”.

She was, she exhaled with a tinge of exasperation, misquoted by a journalist from a Cape Town newspaper. Wearing a frilly black mini-dress and flats, her blonde hair loose around her freckled face, Beukes, who recently won the Arthur C Clarke award for her novel Zoo City, explained what she had said. It went something like this: there is a cliché that South African literature is about the white man’s journey into the interior of the country’s landscape and his own head, and that, she meant to make clear, it’s about much more than that and always has been.

Beukes, at a vibrant, wickedly smart 35, has obviously been busy turning those notions on their misguided heads with her own work.

But considering the circumstances from which the rumours had come — the M&G’s LitFest session eight, a discussion by three not-so-boring old white farts and their memoirs — it was an important point to get right. Especially since it was old white fart #1: former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils, author of two not-so-boring struggle memoirs, who had brought the apparently misreported comments to the audience. He was responding to the importance of apartheid history told “for now, for the future and for the young people to know and understand”; for a populace that appears to be ­consumed entirely in the now.

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August 12, 2011

Mail & Guardian Literary Festival 2011

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Johannesburg’s time has come — or at least its 125th birthday. Founded in October 1886, Jo’burg is the centrepiece and main theme for this year’s Mail & Guardian Literary Festival, which runs at the Market Theatre in Newtown, Johannesburg, from September 2 to September 4.

Under the title Five Quarters: Jo’burg at 125, the festival will focus on the city in the world, and the worlds in the city. The festival programme of panel discussions and readings examines the realities of living in Johannesburg as portrayed in fiction, speculative fiction and non-fiction.

Helping set the tone will be The Johannesburg Moment, the opening address by Karl von Holdt in the Main Theatre at the Market on September 2 at 6.30 for 7pm.

A senior researcher at the Society Work and Development Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, Von Holdt is working with Michael Burawoy on a book on Pierre Bourdieu, the late and massively influential sociologist. Conversations with Bourdieu is subtitled The Johannesburg Moment and will be published by Wits University Press in October this year.

Lauren Beukes, this year’s winner of science fiction’s most prominent award — the Arthur C Clarke — for her novel Zoo City, will feature on the panel “Science Fiction and Fantasy in the City”, chaired by the M&G‘s SFF reviewer Gwen Ansell.

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July 30, 2011

World Fantasy Nominees and Lifetime Achievement Winners

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The World Fantasy Awards Lifetime Achievement Winners for 2011 are Peter S. Beagle and Angélica Gorodischer. The awards are presented annually to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding service to the fantasy field.

The World Fantasy Awards nomination ballot has also been announced. Winners will be announced at this year’s World Fantasy Convention, to be held October 27-30, in San Diego CA. (Lifetime Achievement winners are announced in advance of the event).

Nominees are:


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July 17, 2011

The Nielsen Booksellers’ Choice Award 2010/2011 Shortlist

The 2010/2011 Nielsen Booksellers’ Choice Award shortlist has been announced.

The award, which is accompanied by a cheque for R10 000, recognises the home-grown title that SA booksellers large and small took the most pleasure – and profit – in reading and selling last year.

Books LIVE is delighted to see three of our members on the list: Alex Smith, Cynthia Jele and Lauren Beukes are joined by Alexander Parker, Zapiro, Derryn Campbell and Evita Bezuidenhout. Jele and Beukes, of course, have already had, oh, a smidgen of success with their 2010 novels this year (cf the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, M Net Film Award and a little something-something called the Arthur C Clarke Award).

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50 People Who Stuffed Up South AfricaAwesome South AfricaEvita's Kossie SikelelaFour Drunk BeautiesHappiness is a Four-Letter WordZoo City (SA edition)

April 28, 2011

Angry Robot’s Zoo City wins Arthur C Clarke award

Filed under: Literary Prizes — Tags: , , , , — Bookblurb @ 1:34 pm

Click to buy 28.04.11 | Bookseller Staff

Lauren Beukes’s Zoo City has been honoured with the Arthur C Clarke Award for science  fiction novel of the year, being tipped to bring “a whole new readership” to the genre. Zoo City’s publisher Angry Robot Books has also been hailed as one of the most “innovative and exciting” genre publishers in the country following the announcement.

The award, worth £2,011, was presented at a ceremony last night (27th April) held as part of the London Sci-Fi Film Festival. Beukes’ novel is set in modern Johannesburg and portrays psychic criminal guilt taking physical animal form.

Award director Tom Hunter said: “This is a great book that promises to inspire both long terms fans of the genre and introduce a whole new readership to the best of science fiction literature.”

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