The Folly by Ivan Vladislavić

The Folly cover rgb

Ivan Vladislavić

Price: £10

Trade Paperback


eBook ISBN:

Original language:

Published by:
And Other Stories

Publication date:
11 November 2015

Mr and Mrs Malgas are going quietly about their lives when a mysterious squatter appears on the vacant plot next to their home. Arriving with portmanteau in hand and a head full of extraordinary ideas, the stranger at once begins to fashion tools and cutlery from old iron and rubbish. Soon he enlists Mr Malgas’s help: drawn in by the stranger’s conviction, Mr Malgas clears the land, all the while struggling to catch sight of the grand mansion that is supposedly springing up around them. His vision, however, continues to fail him – until, one day, it doesn’t.

When The Folly appeared in South Africa in 1993, with its story of the seductive and dangerous illusions language can breed, it was read as an evocative allegory of the rise and fall of apartheid. Vladislavić’s remarkable first novel is sure to strike new chords for contemporary readers.

Advance Praise for The Folly

  • ‘I see the book as a playful-sinister examination of the potentially dangerous false realities of literature, and even of language itself. In a way it is an enactment of its own folly – as we are warned in the title . . . It sounds odd, I know, but it gives you the feeling that the very book you are holding is alive in a dangerous and unsettling way, with its own consciousness and self-awareness.’  Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian
  • ‘Vladislavić is a weaver of spells, and I read his book at once captivated and cautious as to how it would cap off its vaunting fantasy . . . a satire on – and a love letter to – human gullibility, and, as such, quite strange, and as special as it is strange.’ Jonathan Gibbs, The Independent
  • ‘This 1993 debut from the gifted South African of Croatian descent is more Pinter than Kafka and a zany variation on Coetzee’s Age of Iron . . . outrageously deadpan funny, stylish and prophetic.’ Eileen Battersby, Books of the Year, The Irish Times
  • ‘The Folly, by Ivan Vladislavić, is wonderful. It’s a political allegory (or parable? or something in between?) that must have been amazing to read in the context of emerging democratic South Africa in 1993 but has lost none of its power over the years.’ Audrey Schoeman, Guardian Books Blog
  • ‘A fascinating piece of fiction . . . The Folly is very much about our need to believe and what happens when that belief is lost.’ Shiny New Fiction
  • ‘Vladislavic has the knack of revealing people’s personalities and idiosyncrasies in an understated manner.’ Trish Beaver Daily News
  • ‘In a country obsessed with social realism, Vladislavić has always tried to find less obvious ways to approach the world. An immaculately-written allegory or parable (though neither word is quite right) about two unlikely neighbours, it’s a clever and elegant book that lodges in the mind like a dart.’ Damon Galgut
  • ‘An enigmatic newcomer to a South African veld endeavours to construct a mansion on an inherited plot of land and, in the process, pushes the sanity of his neighbours to its limit in this heady, lively, and darkly surreal novel by South African writer Vladislavic . . . Vladislavic’s cryptic, haunting tale echoes Jorge Luis Borges and David Lynch, drawing readers into its strange depths.’ Publisher’s Weekly
  • ‘A parable about land, ownership and power? A fable about the imagined other? An allegory of contestation and co-existence, or of the building (and dismantling) of systems? Occupying a tantalizingly unnameable region between fable, allegory and parable, Ivan Vladislavić’s first novel announces a powerfully original imagination, expressed in unparalleled stylistic precision and brilliance. Nothing short of a great contemporary writer, he pushes at form and content to make something strangely new and profound of the novel.’ Neel Mukherjee
  • The Folly is mysterious, lyrical and wickedly funny – a masterful novel about loving and fearing your neighbour. Ivan Vladislavić is one of the most significant writers working in English today. Everyone should read him.’ Katie Kitamura

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