The Restless Supermarket Paperback – Apr 1 2014
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"The Restless Supermarket, by Ivan Vladislavic (And Other Stories), is set in turn-of-the-regime South Africa and features an unknowing, unreliable, white, racist narrator, Aubrey Tearle. It can be read as Vladislavic’s homage to Nabokov’s Pale Fire and is as imaginatively wild, as brilliantly conceived and written." Neel Mukherjeee,The Irish Times
"From the collapse of the Berlin Wall to the release of Nelson Mandela, Vladislavic creates several funny moments that rely on recent history as a backdrop . . . Vladislavic’s sly prose forces us to recognize our own obsessions with language and class." Publishers Weekly
"There are plenty of books in which authors look back at how things in their homeland used to be. Llosa pulled this off (and eventually won a Nobel Prize), W. G. Sebald did it masterfully (and criminally didn’t win a Nobel Prize), and today we have writers like Teju Cole revisiting Lagos in his fiction, Aleksandar Hemon going back to Bosnia in his novels and essays, and Gary Shteyngart incorporating his native land, Russia, into most of his stories. All of these places have known and in many cases, still know great strife, and exploring how characters deal with home countries in flux tends to make for great stories. With The Restless Supermarket, South African author Ivan Vladislavic (who Cole has praised as amazing”) adds another book to that list, giving us a post-apartheid Archie Bunker in Aubrey Tearle, who sees things changing and can’t really get on board with that." Jason Diamond, Flavorwire Book of the Week
"The first-person narrator is a retired proofreader who carries a dictionary in his pocket, and his obsessive recording of linguistic oddities that offend his sense of correctness is both an astute way of tracking the social change that is happening around him, that he has no means of resisting, and deeply funny. He also happens to be a pompous git, and part of the pleasure of the book is how Vladislavic lures readers who love wordplay into sympathy and then brings them up short." Charles Boyle, The Warwick Review
"Indeed, part of the achievement of The Restless Supermarket is the way in which it manages to humanize an objectionable narrator and render his odious views partially explicable without in any way excusing them. In this, it is a triumph of precisely the sort of sympathetic imagination of which apartheid seemingly stripped its subjects, and of which Tearle himself is almost entirely bereft." Danny Byrne, Music & Literature
"It is by placing South Africa’s political troubles into the mind of a character like Tearle that Vladislavic has provided a novel, personal insight into a massive social change. It’s the kind of work that speaks to far more than just Johannesburg or South Africa; it’s a novel that holds interest for the international audience it is now being brought to." Bookslut
"The Restless Supermarket is a haunting portrait of urban decay but also a poignant depiction of a changing world from the bewildered perspective of one who has, to some extent, been left behind." Rebecca Roulliard, Writers’ Hub
"What an extraordinary novel I recently reviewed Double Negative, by the same author It did not prepare me for the laugh out loud quality of The Restless Supermarket As a lover of words and unashamed pedant, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. My vocabulary has been very much enhanced as a result - indeed I cannot remember my Complete OED being consulted so much in such a short space of time. Tearle is both morally upright and faintly ridiculous, in a Tom Sharpe sort of way. His supporting characters are gently engaging, and nicely eccentric. This is probably my book of the year." David Dickson, The Journal
"[A] book that feeds some of the most complex and crucial years of South African history through an outdated word processor, an entirely unsuitable narrator who clings to the sanctuary of the Café Europa Behind a narrative patter that is by turns witty, sardonic and sad, we see Tearle bungle a love affair, estrange old friends and fail epically to understand the changing society that he is a reluctant part of the result [is] a novel widely regarded as one of the major books of South Africa’s transition." Hedley Twidle, New Statesman
About the Author
IVAN VLADISLAVIC is the author of the novels The Folly, The Exploded View and Double Negative. The last of these appeared initially in TJ/Double Negative, a joint project with the photographer David Goldblatt. It was published in novel form by And Other Stories in 2013. Vladislavic has written extensively about Johannesburg, notably in Portrait with Keys (2006). He has edited volumes on architecture and art, and published a monograph on the conceptual artist Willem Boshoff. The compendium volume Flashback Hotel (2010) gathered together his early stories. Recent books are The Loss Library and Other Unfinished Stories, a reflection on writing and other things, and A Labour of Moles, a small comedy of meanings illustrated by Ornan Rotem. His work has won the Sunday Times Fiction Prize, the Alan Paton Award and the University of Johannesburg Prize, while TJ/Double Negative received the 2011 Kraszna-Krausz Award for best photography book.