Cruel Crazy Beautiful World: A Novel

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Jacana Media, 2011 - South Africa - 214 pages
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This is the most visually aesthetic book I've ever read. Each year, a number of books get described by notable published reviewers as "poetically written" but compared to Blacklaw's book, they're still words on pages, rather than pictures, smells and sounds swaying into your cerebral cortex. If you're thirsty for imagery to satiate every sense (and I mean, EVERY sense) then you'll love this story of underdogs in South Africa.
Two plots are told--one per chapter--at first, and the characters mesh thrillingly by the book's latter stages. The story of a young student's dreams (he's half Muslim, half Jew) are dramatically juxtaposed with his father's hardened pragmaticism. His dad runs below the law's radar as he makes his living and seeks justice on his own terms. His son, Jerusalem, is a dreamer wishing to break free from the constraints of his colour, in a world that (at best) feeds him delicious scraps from the meals he deserves.
Jabalani is the protagonist on the alternative plot: a school teacher who mocked Mugabe and was forced to flee Zimbabwe (for South African work) to put food on his family's plates. But his journey of escape leads to a far more ruthless, gripping trap, that only a newly formed loyalty can disentangle.
When this book hits the mass market, it's going to be huge. Congratulations, Troy Blacklaws, on creating a masterpiece of a story, and a literary gem. This may be the best novel I have ever read.
Andrew Hallam
Author: Millionaire Teacher; columnist, Canadian Business magazine

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About the author (2011)

Troy Blacklaws was born in 1965 in South Africa, where he grew up. After studying English at Rhodes University, he spent two years in the army. He now teaches at the Singapore American School. Chris Martin of Coldplay called Karoo Boy "the most colourful book I have ever read." The novel is to be filmed in South Africa. Visit

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