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.Read an Excerpt
- Read more about Ivan Vladislavić in our authors’ section.
- And find out more about his other works: the ‘marvellous and richly textured’ The Restless Supermarket, the ‘beautifully wrought’ Double Negative and 101 Detectives, a ‘work of art’.
- You can also read a fascinating interview with Ivan Vladislavić, by Tristan Foster, senior editor of 3:AM Magazine.
‘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.’
‘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.’
‘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.’
‘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.’
‘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.’