Thirteen Cents: A Novel (Modern African Writing Series) (Paperback)
Every city has an unspoken side. Cape Town, between the picture postcard mountain and sea, has its own shadow: a place of dislocation and uncertainty, dependence and desperation, destruction and survival, gangsters, pimps, pedophiles, hunger, hope, and moments of happiness. Living in this shadow is Azure, a thirteen-year-old who makes his living on the streets, a black teenager sought out by white men, beholden to gang leaders but determined to create some measure of independence in this dangerous world. Thirteen Cents is an extraordinary and unsparing account of a coming of age in Cape Town.
Reminiscent of some of the greatest child narrators in literature, Azure’s voice will stay with the reader long after this short novel is finished. Based on personal experiences, Thirteen Cents is Duiker’s debut novel, originally published in 2000.
This first edition to be published outside South Africa includes an introduction by Shaun Viljoen and a special glossary of South African words and phrases from the text translated into English.
About the Author
K. Sello Duiker was born and raised in Soweto, South Africa, and went on to study journalism at Rhodes University before moving to Cape Town. His varied experiences while living there form the basis of Thirteen Cents. He also wrote two other novels, The Quiet Violence of Dreams (2001) and The Hidden Star (published posthumously in 2006). Duiker was widely considered one of South Africa’s most promising young novelists before his untimely death in 2005 at the age of thirty.
“A gritty, dagga-infused tour through a Cape Town underworld of street children, hustlers, and cruising ‘johns.’”—Anderson Tepper, Words without Borders
“K. Sello Duiker’s short novel, Thirteen Cents is simultaneously gruesome, violent, deeply disturbing, whimsical, and beautiful…. Told from Azure’s perspective, Duiker weaves a narrative that lays bare the violence, exploitation, racial and sexual politics found just under the surface of South African society.”—Africa Is a Country
“Duiker is to literature what Steve Biko is to politics, both having died at the tender age of 30 but leaving indelible footprints in our collective memory.”—Siphiwo Mahala, Mail & Guardian
“A 13-year old South African boy turns tricks in Cape Town in Duiker's emotional whiplash of a debut novel, available in the US for the first time…. With lucid imagery fluctuating between dreams and rationalized escapism, Duiker—through genuine insight, a captivating voice, and candid child-narration—explores a world ruled by primary instinct.” —Publishers Weekly
“This entry in the Modern African Writing series, dotted with slang and obscenities in various languages, holds the reader with its vivid descriptions of the gorgeous setting, with the striking portrayal of the physicality of Azure’s daily life—the misery and the beauty of rain, the joy of keeping warm—and, finally, with the magical realism of his escape, which brings the recognition of those we know are out there, but we do not see.” —Booklist
“Duiker is to literature what Steve Biko is to politics, both having died at the tender age of 30 but leaving indelible footprints in our collective memory.”
— Mail & Guardian
“K. Sello Duiker’s short novel, Thirteen Cents is simultaneously gruesome, violent, deeply disturbing, whimsical, and beautiful…. Told from Azure’s perspective, Duiker weaves a narrative that lays bare the violence, exploitation, racial and sexual politics found just under the surface of South African society.”
— Africa Is a Country