The A-Z Bookbag: Z is for Zoo City

Hey, look at that! It’s Day Z, the last day of the A-Z challenge. I hope the past month has offered some interesting titles to add to your list.


Our final Bookbag title, Zoo City by Lauren Beukes, is a unique way to end the series. It features Zinzi, a young lady living in a Johannesburg slum and who has a knack for finding lost things. What makes her different from other detectives, though, is she’s paired with a sloth.


In fact, all criminals (which Zinzi is) in Johannesburg are bonded with an animal in an almost symbiotic way. Sloth helps Zinzi find the lost things by following “strings” that connect person to object. Strings that Zinzi can see. She describes how it works after nearly running into a transgender woman on the street.

As we pass, I can feel the filmy cling of a dozen strands of lost things from the boygirl, like brushing against the tendrils of an anemone. I try not to look. But I pick up blurred impressions anyway, like an out-of-focus photograph. I get snatches of a gold cigarette case, or maybe it’s a business-card holder, a mostly empty plastic bankie of brown powder and a pair of sequinned red stilettos–real showgirl shoes, like Dorothy got back from Oz all grown up and turned burlesque stripper. Sloth tenses up automatically. I pat his arm.

“None of our business, buddy.”

He’s too sensitive. The problem with my particular gift, curse, call it what you like, is that everybody’s lost something. Stepping out in public is like walking into a tangle  of cat’s cradles, like someone dished out balls of string at the lunatic asylum and instructed the inmates to tie everything to everything else.

Zinzi offers her skills for hire, facing occasional judgement of her “animalled” status from the more privileged. When an older lady who hired her to find a ring is murdered, the cops take the ring and the money Zinzi was paid. This leaves her strapped for cash and willing to help someone find something she normally doesn’t look for–people. Specifically, a young pop star who has events coming up. And when missing persons are involved–famous missing persons whose managers don’t want anyone to know they’ve gone missing–things are more likely to get complicated. Sloth or no sloth.

What Z titles are in your Bookbag?

5 thoughts on “The A-Z Bookbag: Z is for Zoo City

  1. Pingback: Blogging A-Z Challenge: The Complete Bookbag List – with Genres! | Allison Maruska

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