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.
Shaun Viljoen is a Professor in the English Department at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, and the author of a forthcoming biography of the writer Richard Rive.
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. After his parents are murdered, blue-eyed Azure vows to live on his own amongst a violent community of children and cunning adults. He sleeps by a community swimming pool and earns money by parking cars or as a prostitute, meeting adult male clients and trading sexual acts for cash and an occasional meal. Knowing little to nothing about financial management, he gives his money to a woman who promises to safeguard it. Then, after accidentally calling a light-skinned gang leader by the name of one of his dark-skinned friends, Azure is beaten for days and confined to rooms and a rooftop, initiated into the gang against his will and renamed "Blue". He learns that the funds he assumed to be safe in a bank account have been stolen, and his limited trust towards adults transforms into hatred. But amidst the discomfort of disturbing content, hope glimmers in small yet poignant moments of selflessness. 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.