Ivan Vladislavić

The Restless Supermarket

It is 1993, and Aubrey Tearle’s world is shutting down. He has recently retired from a lifetime of proofreading telephone directories. His favourite neighbourhood haunt in Johannesburg, the Café Europa, is about to close its doors; the familiar old South Africa is already gone. Standards, he grumbles, are in decline, so bad-tempered, conservative Tearle embarks on a grandiose plan to enlighten his fellow citizens. The results are disastrous, hilarious and poignant.

A classic novel about the post-apartheid era, brimming with surprising perspectives, urban satire, riotous imagery and outrageous wordplay. Vladislavić’s tour de force was awarded the South African Sunday Times Fiction Prize.

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  • Ivan Vladislavić is the author of Double Negative (And Other Stories, 2013), shortlisted for the South African Sunday Times Fiction Prize 2011 and winner of the University of Johannesburg Creative Writing Prize 2010/11. He is also the author of the short story collection 101 Detectives (And Other Stories, 2015) and the novel The Folly (And Other Stories, 2015).
Print status: Available
Original language: English
Format: B-format paperback with flaps
Publication date: 3 April 2014
ISBN: 9781908276322
Ebook ISBN: 9781908276339
Availability: World
Number of pages: 304


Neel Mukherjee
The Independent

‘Vladislavič invests the subject with profound depth and inventiveness by focusing on a character who is resistant to history and is already petrifying in the tumultuous tides of his times. The novel is also a masterpiece of voice, one that fits Tearle with miraculous perfection: pedantic; uptight; sneeringly undemocratic; periphrastic, sometimes; punning; sustainedly, outrageously witty. It is the wit of the cryptic crossword; of a wizard of words whose only deity is the OED. You will feel giddy reading this riot of a book, until you fall into the grip of sadness and pity at the end for, while elevating the effect of bathos to high art, Vladislavič has also deftly woven in pathos …  this novel is Vladislavič’s Pale Fire. A work of such immense imaginativeness, of such extraordinarily serious playfulness, comes along very rarely. Let us celebrate it.​’

Publishers Weekly

‘From the collapse of the Berlin Wall to the release of Nelson Mandela, Vladislavic creates several funny moments that rely on recent history as a backdrop . . . Vladislavic’s sly prose forces us to recognize our own obsessions with language and class.’

Hedley Twidle
New Statesman

‘[A] book that feeds some of the most complex and crucial years of South African history through an outdated word processor, an entirely unsuitable narrator who clings to the sanctuary of the Café Europa … Behind a narrative patter that is by turns witty, sardonic and sad, we see Tearle bungle a love affair, estrange old friends and fail epically to understand the changing society that he is a reluctant part of … the result [is] a novel widely regarded as one of the major books of South Africa’s transition.’