Columns > Published on September 2nd, 2016

Why The F*ck Aren’t You Reading Lauren Beukes?

image via LaurenBeukes.com

Why The F*ck Aren't You Reading? is a feature where the columnist spotlights a writer who has a dedicated following and is well known within the writing community, but hasn't achieved the elephant-in-the-room style success of a Stephen King or Gillian Flynn—But they deserve to, dammit! Hopefully the column will help gain the author featured a few more well deserved readers.


My favorite writers are the ones who just don’t give a shit.

Now I’m not talking about the Bukowski or Hunter S. types, I’m talking about the ones who just want to tell the story they want to tell. They write stories about monsters from another dimension, or time traveling serial killers, or criminals sentences to have a literal monkey (or sloth or squirrel, or pigeon) on their back for the rest of their lives for their transgressions. And they tell these stories with emotional depth and resonance. You know the writers I’m talking about: King, Atwood, Lansdale, Brian Evenson, Stephen Graham Jones, Karen Russell, Jeff VanderMeer, etc. The folks who’ve upped the game of genre blending and have the MFA bunch and genre purists sweetly holding hands and singing Kumbaya.

Yeah, those not-give-a-shit types are the best and their numbers are thankfully growing.

If you’re like me and you’re constantly searching out authors who walk the same line as the aforementioned awesome bunch of novelists, there’s someone you definitely need to be reading:

Lauren Beukes.

The Skinny aka Just The Facts and Nothing But The Facts

Here’s the handy-dandy Bio from Ms. Beukes website:

Lauren Beukes is an award-winning, internationally best-selling novelist who also writes comics, screenplays, TV shows and journalism. Her books have been translated into 26 languages and have been optioned for film and TV.

She’s won the Arthur C Clarke Award, the prestigious University of Johannesburg prize, the August Derleth Award for Best Horror, the Strand Critics Choice Award for Best Mystery Novel, the RT Thriller of the Year, the Kitschies Red Tentacle for best novel, the Exclusive Books’ Bookseller’s Choice Award and been included in best of the year round-ups by NPR, Amazon and the LA Times. Her work has been praised by Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, James Ellroy and Gillian Flynn among others.

She is the author of Broken Monsters, The Shining Girls, Zoo City, Moxyland, Maverick: Extraordinary Women From South Africa’s Past. Her comics work includes Survivor’s Club, an original horror comic with Dale Halvorsen and Ryan Kelly, due out with Vertigo in October 2015, the Fables spin-off graphic novel, Fairest: The Hidden Kingdom with Inaki Miranda, and a Wonder Woman one-shot, ‘The Trouble With Cats’ in Sensation Comics 9 for kids, set in Mozambique and Soweto.

I’ll admit that I haven’t read Beukes' comics yet or the non-fiction, but I can tell you that her four novels Broken Monsters, The Shining Girls, Zoo City, and Moxyland are blistering, undefinable reads brimming with impossible imagination.

The Work aka Why You Should Be Reading This Lady

Well, as I mentioned in the introduction, Beukes just doesn’t give shit. She’s going to write the kind of story she wants to write and the publishing marketers be damned.

Beukes just doesn’t a give shit. She’s going to write the kind of story she wants to write and the publishing marketers be damned.

She absolutely will not be classified into a single genre. Of her four novels she’s written an urban fantasy, a high tech thriller, a serial killer thriller, and a horror novel. But here’s the thing, her urban fantasy, Zoo City, is also a mystery novel coupled with social satire. Her serial killer novel, The Shining Girls, is also a time travel epic. And her horror novel, Broken Monsters, well, that shit’s a straight up horror novel. But it’s got a great police procedural and coming-of-age story mixed in there to boot. (Plus, for all of you Stranger Things junkies, the Duffer Brothers seemed to have pulled a huge part of their major plot point out of Broken Monsters.)

More or less, these are intense, read in one sitting novels that have a little something for everyone. Beukes' voice is compelling and conversational, as if when you’re reading her, she’s sitting right in front of you telling you these intense, thrilling, and incredibly fucked up stories, and no matter how horrified you are, you can’t stop listening to her. You won’t stop, because you absolutely have to know what’s going to happen next.

Where To Start aka What Book Should I Read First, Smart Guy?

Alrighty, this is actually kind of a tough question because I’ve liked all four of Beukes' novels A LOT. But I also tend to be a completist when it comes to authors I like, and I typically start with the first novel when I can. Luckily, her first novel, Zoo City, was recently reissued here in the states.

But if urban fantasy isn’t your bag, I would definitely recommend Broken Monsters next. Broken Monsters is an intense piece of horror fiction which examines the nature of art, fame, wasted potential, and a fairly endearing mother/daughter subplot, and all of it takes place in everyone’s favorite decaying metropolis of Detroit. Broken Monsters is a smart, deftly structured novel that contains some truly bone-chilling scenes.

But if you’re a See’s Sampler kind of reader, Beukes has her first mixed collection (short stories and essays), Slipping, coming out from Tachyon Publishing in November. And even though I’m just starting to make my way through it, from what I’ve read so far, it’s pretty damn good.
But just like every author I’ve featured in Why The F*ck Aren’t You Reading, I’m positive you’ll find something of Buekes' that will twist your noodle.

Anyone out there a Beukes fan?

About the author

Keith Rawson is a little-known pulp writer whose short fiction, poetry, essays, reviews, and interviews have been widely published both online and in print. He is the author of the short story collection The Chaos We Know (SnubNose Press)and Co-Editor of the anthology Crime Factory: The First Shift. He lives in Southern Arizona with his wife and daughter.

Similar Columns

Explore other columns from across the blog.

Book Brawl: Geek Love vs. Water for Elephants

In Book Brawl, two books that are somehow related will get in the ring and fight it out for the coveted honor of being declared literary champion. Two books enter. One book leaves. This month,...

The 10 Best Sci-Fi Books That Should Be Box Office Blockbusters

It seems as if Hollywood is entirely bereft of fresh material. Next year, three different live-action Snow White films will be released in the States. Disney is still terrorizing audiences with t...

Books Without Borders: Life after Liquidation

Though many true book enthusiasts, particularly in the Northwest where locally owned retailers are more common than paperback novels with Fabio on the cover, would never have set foot in a mega-c...

From Silk Purses to Sows’ Ears

Photo via Freeimages.com Moviegoers whose taste in cinema consists entirely of keeping up with the Joneses, or if they’re confident in their ignorance, being the Joneses - the middlebrow, the ...

Cliche, the Literary Default

Original Photo by Gerhard Lipold As writers, we’re constantly told to avoid the cliché. MFA programs in particular indoctrinate an almost Pavlovian shock response against it; workshops in...

A Recap Of... The Wicked Universe

Out of Oz marks Gregory Maguire’s fourth and final book in the series beginning with his brilliant, beloved Wicked. Maguire’s Wicked universe is richly complex, politically contentious, and fille...

Learning | Free Lesson — LitReactor | 2024-05

Try Reedsy's novel writing masterclass — 100% free

Sign up for a free video lesson and learn how to make readers care about your main character.

Reedsy Marketplace UI

1 million authors trust the professionals on Reedsy. Come meet them.