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The Restless Supermarket [Paperback]

Ivan Vladislavic

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Book Description

April 1 2014
"Vladislavic is amazing!"-Teju Cole

It is 1993, and Aubrey Tearle's world is shutting down. He has recently retired from a lifetime of proofreading telephone directories. His favorite neighborhood haunt in Johannesburg, the Café Europa, is about to close its doors; the familiar old South Africa is already gone. Standards, he grumbles, are in decline, so bad-tempered, conservative Tearle embarks on a grandiose plan to enlighten his fellow citizens. The results are disastrous, hilarious, and poignant.

Ivan Vladislavic is the author of a number of prize-winning fiction and nonfiction books. He lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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Review

"Vladislavic invests the subject with profound depth and inventiveness by focusing on a character who is resistant to history and is already petrifying in the tumultuous tides of his times. The novel is also a masterpiece of voice, one that fits Tearle with miraculous perfection: pedantic; uptight; sneeringly undemocratic; periphrastic, sometimes; punning; sustainedly, outrageously witty. It is the wit of the cryptic crossword; of a wizard of words whose only deity is the OED. You will feel giddy reading this riot of a book, until you fall into the grip of sadness and pity at the end for, while elevating the effect of bathos to high art, Vladislavic has also deftly woven in pathos … this novel is Vladislavic’s Pale Fire. A work of such immense imaginativeness, of such extraordinarily serious playfulness, comes along very rarely. Let us celebrate it.?" Neel Mukherjee, The Independent

"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." Book Slut

"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

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.

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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How we were - how we are? Jan. 7 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A bleakly amusing look at South Africa's transition to democracy in the early 1990s. Surreal, and takes place in the same suburb of Johannesburg as Lauren Beukes' Zoo City, which is set some 20 years later. Interesting to read both and observe the differences.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Slog Nov. 28 2011
By J. Smallridge - Published on Amazon.com
This is not an easy to book to read. However, if one does make it through the story, he or she will be greatly rewarded with a quirky story amidst a politically thrilling time period. It helped to evoke with Hillbrow must have been like as South Africa transitioned to democracy.

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