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.
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
When I was eleven I had nightmares about executions...
When I was eleven I began to realize that my parents didn't always like my friends' parents...
When I was eleven...
“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