The Dubious Salvation of Jack V. A Novel

Jacques Strauss




Trade Paperback

256 Pages



Request Desk Copy Request Exam Copy
Winner of the Commonwealth Regional Prize, Africa

For eleven-year-old Jack Viljee, apartheid Johannesburg is a rational and simple place. Whether he’s picking fights with his little sister or fretting over his possibly gay best friend, Jack can always depend upon Susie, his family’s black maid, for a word of sympathy and approval. The Viljee household, in its small way, mimics the politics of South Africa. But Jack’s little world is upset by the arrival of Percy, Susie’s teenaged son. When Percy catches Jack in a shameful moment, Jack discovers that even small acts of revenge can have unimaginable consequences. Subversively smart and unapologetically funny, Jacques Strauss's The Dubious Salvation of Jack V. is a powerful debut from a fearlessly original voice.


Praise for The Dubious Salvation of Jack V.

“Strauss juggles Salvation’s many elements with such apparent ease that it’s not immediately obvious what a feat he’s pulling off.”—The Portland Mercury

“Honest . . . Compelling . . . [You’ll] laugh out loud in the face of darkness.”—The Literary Review

“Strauss writes with poise and comic timing . . . His highly enjoyable novel reads more as inspired memoir, so adroit is the telling.”—The Irish Times (Dublin)

“A terrific read. It’s smart, charming, funny, highly astute, and subtly political. It’s set in Johannesburg, but the story could map onto life anywhere.”—Douglas Coupland, author of Generation X

“Childhood innocence can be hilarious. And brutal. Jack’s move from bystander to oppressor breaks up everything . . . A searing debut.”—Booklist

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

My family lived in a very nice house, on a very nice street in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg. It would be easy to get carried away about how nice it all was. If one isn’t careful one might easily sound nostalgic. During the hot afternoons the maids and gardeners sat beneath the trees, chatting in their native tongues. Some had babies strapped to their backs with blankets. The child would lean its head against its mother and doze while she drank a mug of tea or ate mealie meal piled on a plastic plate. Most families in Linden had maids and most of the maids lived in small

Read the full excerpt



  • The Dubious Salvation of Jack V.: Executions

    When I was eleven I had nightmares about executions...

  • The Dubious Salvation of Jack V.: Play Time

    When I was eleven I began to realize that my parents didn't always like my friends' parents...

  • The Dubious Salvation of Jack V.: Bath Time

    When I was eleven...



  • Jacques Strauss

  • Jacques Strauss is a thirty-year-old South African. He studied phi­losophy in college, is obsessed over Derrida, and now writes reams of corporate copy for a London firm.

  • Jacques Strauss © Wolf Marloh
    Jacques Strauss