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The Lion Seeker
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The Lion Seeker
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A brawny, brilliant debut novel about the epic struggles of an immigrant son in a darkening world.Johannesburg, South Africa. The Great Depression. In this harsh new country, young Isaac Helger burns...
A brawny, brilliant debut novel about the epic struggles of an immigrant son in a darkening world.Johannesburg, South Africa. The Great Depression. In this harsh new country, young Isaac Helger burns...
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  • A brawny, brilliant debut novel about the epic struggles of an immigrant son in a darkening world.
    Johannesburg, South Africa. The Great Depression. In this harsh new country, young Isaac Helger burns with fiery determination-- to break out of the inner city, to buy his scarred mother the home she longs for, to find a way to realize her dream of reuniting a family torn apart. But there are terrible, unspoken secrets of the past that will haunt him as he makes his way through a society brutalized by racism, as he loses his heart to an unattainable girl from the city's wealthiest heights and his every exit route from poverty dead-ends. When the threat of the Second World War insinuates itself with brutal force into Isaac's reality, he will face the most important choice of his life . . . and will have to learn to live with the consequences.

    In this extraordinarily powerful novel, Kenneth Bonert brings alive the world of South African Jewry in all its raw energy and ribald vernacular. Comedic, searing, lyrical and with a snap-perfect ear for dialogue, The Lion Seeker is a profoundly moral exploration of how wider social forces shape us and shatter us, echoing through history with lessons that are no less relevant today than in the crucible of its time.

 

Awards-

About the Author-

  • KENNETH BONERT's short stories have appeared in Grain and The Fiddlehead. His story "Packers and Movers" was shortlisted for the Journey Prize and his novella "Peacekeepers, 1995" appeared in McSweeney's 25. The Lion Seeker is his first novel. A one-time journalist, his articles have appeared in the Globe and Mail, National Post and other publications. Born in South Africa, he now calls Toronto home.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 5, 2013
    “A Stupid or a Clever, a lion or a lamb”: this refrain follows Isaac Helger as he comes of age in South Africa in the ’20s and ’30s. Both of Isaac’s immigrant Jewish parents suffered in anti-Semitic Europe, but they’ve learned opposite lessons from their respective ordeals. His iron-willed, mysteriously scarred mother teaches him to put himself first, to take rather than give—because if given the chance, anyone else would do the same. But his father favors a life of peaceful labor, preferring happiness to materialism. Which legacy will Isaac choose as he tries to strike it rich, woo an upper-class “goy” girl, and retaliate against anti-Semites? Bonert’s minorities are not blameless victims: unable to see the similarity between the persecution of Jews and blacks, Isaac is a bigot, too. When Hitler’s onslaught begins, endangering the Helgers’ Lithuanian relatives, Isaac must decide which comes first: his own dreams or the lives of others. His is a story of fighting and deciding what’s worth fighting for, of cultivating a strength that doesn’t erase empathy. Bonert’s debut is lengthy, but the pages turn quickly, with suspenseful prose and colorful vernacular dialogue that could easily be used in a blockbuster film. Agent: Don Fehr, Trident.

  • National Post "Strikingly assured debut. The Lion Seeker is astonishingly mature, admirably incautious. It moves with the sleight-of-hand of the born artist, ramping up for naked tugs at the heart. It would make a terrific film. It's visually and thematically sweeping, rich with diverse personalities, packed with tender waves and roiling crests of love, loss, hope, hatred."
  • Antanas Sileika, author of Underground and Woman in Bronze and Director of the Humber School for Writers "This powerful novel begins with a mystery that propels its characters through their difficult lives in prewar South Africa and haunts their actions until a dramatic and searing climax based on the Holocaust in Lithuania. The Lion Seeker is vivid and illuminating, astonishing in its range and toughness, and simultaneously an expression of love and regret for all that has been lost."
  • Charles Foran, author of Mordecai: The Life and Times "A remarkably assured debut, The Lion Seeker is a riveting, lyrical, and profound journey towards the intersection of private lives and public destinies. Kenneth Bonert has all the makings of a major novelist."
  • Richard Poplak, author of Ja No Man: Growing Up White in Apartheid-Era South Africa "The Lion Seeker is no-holds-barred, bare-knuckle-fight raw. A historical novel that feels desperately current; a Rosenburg and Juliet love story shorn of all sentiment; a stock-taking of human brutality and its flip side, our capacity to reach beyond our limitations and be better, all rendered in prose so expert, so fine honed that it belies the adjective 'debut.' It joins classics like J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace and Rian Malan's My Traitor's Heart in the canon, and renders the South African experience universal. A first-round knock-out for Kenneth Bonert."

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    Knopf Canada
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