The West Rand Jive Cats Boxing Club
For all of us there comes a fall, a loss of innocence – a time after which we are never again the same. For twelve-year-old Tommy and Chris, growing up on the mines of Johannesburg, that time came in 1958.
Goaded by the pulse of Elvis, Little Richard and the kwela kwela rhythms of the black ghettos, these young jive cats of the West Rand Cons Mine look to prove their grit on the slumyard dance floors and in the sweat-soaked ring of the boxing club, run by the enigmatic and wise Jock McGinty. But Tommy has a little sister Cecilia, sweet, whimsical and vulnerable. Unwittingly, she will make the friends face a choice between courage and cowardice, between loyalty and betrayal.
This is a compelling story about the endurance of friendship, and about coming of age in South Africa at a time that was at once charmed and cruel.
“Amazing … Liebenberg’s writing is flawless. She takes a complex South African history and creates something fantastic”
– PEOPLE MAGAZINE – Read review here
“There are few Southern African-based books that do what you’d least expect of them. This, though, is what Lauren Liebenberg has achieved, and the unexpected is always to be applauded … The novel has a true, raw feel about it … An effortless tale that captures more than is initially apparent … Liebenberg is a terrific writer.”
– THE GUARDIAN – Read review here
Listen to book review by Anne Else as heard on Radio New Zealand (23 June 2011)
“ … a moving, excellently crafted story …”
– THE TIMES
“ … a compelling coming-of-age story … “
– THE FINANCIAL TIMES
“… Liebenberg’s crafted prose atmospherically conjures up a sense of a distant past …”
– METRO LONDON
“… a raw and moving read …”
“Occasionally, a novel comes along that packs an extra punch … Understanding all the yearning, the angst, the excitement, the bravado and the bewilderment of youth is what Liebenberg does best … Liebenberg’s compelling, moving and occasionally darkly humorous story is complex on social, psychological and political levels but it is also gloriously literate … A memorable story”
– LANCASHIRE EVENING POST
‘Impressive … a moving story about friendship, loyalty and a summer that changes everything’
“Coming of age with the help of boxing” Novelist departs from semi-autobiographical themes to an imaginative account of poor whites in the old SA.
Lauren de Beer (Business Day 5 July 2011). Read interview here.
Article: Virago Website, 03 October 2011