Ivan Vladislavic: The Folly


The latest addition to my website is Ivan Vladislavic‘s The Folly. This novel, set in Vladislavic’s native South Africa, tells of a strange man, Nieuwenhuizen, who arrives to claim an overgrown plot which he seems to have inherited. He collects the rubbish and stores for it for possible future use. He sets up a two-person tent, in which he lives. The neighbours, Mr. and Mrs. Malgas, are bemused. Who is he? What does he want? Eventually, Mr. Malgas, who owns a hardware store, introduces himself and soon he is helping Nieuwenhuizen clear the land. Nieuwenhuizen then gets Malgas to get him some three hundred very long nails and he nails them into the ground and winds string around them, laying out a complex plan. Malgas initially does not understand the plan but then gradually seems not only to grasp it but sees the house completed and even goes into it with Nieuwenhuizen. This is a seemingly conventional novel which turns into a novel about an outsider arriving and completely changing the perception of another person. Absurd possibly but it is also a very original novel.

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