Shortlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Award 2014
How should a man be? Mattie Duiker is trying very hard to live up to his dying father’s wishes. He is putting aside childish things, starting his first business serving healthy take-away food to the workers in his district of Cape Town. His Pa is proud.
At the same time, Mattie is pulled toward an altogether different version of masculinity, in which oiled and toned bodies cavort for him at the click of a mouse. His porn addiction both threatens his relationship with his boyfriend, Jack, and imperils his inheritance.
Pa’s peacocking days as a swaggering businessman are done, but even as the cancer shrivels and crisps him, the old man’s ancient authority intensifies as it shrinks, like Mattie’s own signature sauce. Pa haltingly prepares his son for life without him, and himself for life without a male heir. And, while the family wrestles with matters of entitlement and inheritance, around them a new South Africa is quietly but persistently nudging its way forwards.
Wolf, Wolf is a novel of old rigid states and new unfinished forms, of stiff tolerance and mournful nostalgia. With uncommon sensitivity to place, time, and sex, Eben Venter reveals himself to the world outside his homeland as one of its most astute and acute observers, giving shape in story to some of the sea-changes of our time, in the manner of Coetzee and Roth.
'In Eben Venter’s expert hands the ambivalent hot-house relations between a dying, old-school Afrikaner patriarch and his troubled, gay son comes to carry terrific political resonance without ever becoming clumsily schematic. Porn addiction, the challenges of intimacy, gay insecurity and hetero complacency are all thrown into the heady brew.'
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'Wolf, Wolf is a deeply felt and deeply disturbing story. Like all the best dispatches from the modern world, it takes you to places you never expected to go — and challenges you to learn from what you find there.'