“Lively, restless, crackling with wit, compassion and insights. Son is a fearless rendering of our times that deserves to be widely read and celebrated.” Craig Higginson, author of The Dream House

Son is a stunning achievement in post-apartheid writing. The debut novel by South African writer, Neil Sonnekus, Son brims with brio, verve and swagger. Though laugh-out-loud funny at times, it is also achingly poignant and deeply moving.

Sonnekus brilliantly captures the so-called Noughties with his tragi-comic creation Len Bezuidenhout, a recent divorcee whose quest for sex is as funny as his attempts to tease a hungover narrative from his father, a puritanical old curmudgeon. The two couldn’t be more different – or similar. They are both storytellers, but when the tale Len starts extracting from his old man is slowly revealed, it is everything but funny.

Through scalding humour, caustic wit and brutally frank interrogation into the country’s ‘post Rainbow Nation’ pathology, this stylistically imposing work is one of hilarity, bitter warmth and eventual grace.

Son is at times uproarious and unremittingly frank as it exposes politics as a tragic farce. It is both self-deprecating and sensual as it traverses the dark arts of sexual conquest and desire while it simultaneously unearths brutal anxieties around crime, alienation and aging.

As the author carves out an archaeological excavation of trauma, the fallout of war, masculinity, inter-generational memory and grief is unloaded. Central to Son is the brutal mirror of what it means to be a white man in South Africa, confronting a rapid loss of power while struggling to come to terms with stark socio-political change and the possibilities of living an unfulfilled and alienated life.

While it hums and whirs with sound, movement and humour, Son seamlessly takes the reader on a profound journey of compassion and self-understanding. In a dark and disturbing turn, it argues that the dominant colour of the rainbow has become not white nor black, but red. Blood red.


Neil Sonnekus is a playwright, award-winning filmmaker and critic. His play, Habitual, was performed at the Market Theatre and he won a platinum award for adapting Booker Prize-nominated author Christopher Hope’s fine comic novella Black Swan at the Houston International Film Festival in 2003. His short film, Down Under, a thriller, won silver that year. Sonnekus worked as a film critic at the Mail & Guardian and Sunday Times Magazine from 2001–2009. He has made two more shorts and is currently developing a feature film. Son is his first novel and there are two more in the pipeline.


ISBN 978-1-920601-80-5 (English)

Seun (Afrikaans version) 978-1-920601-82-9

GENRE Fiction

FORMAT Trade Paperback 

SIZE 235x155mm

EXTENT 280pp

RIGHTS World rights

RELEASE April 2017