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Reviews

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Below Luck Level

“A haunting, funny exploration of Alzheimer’s disease. Erasmus always surprises and delights.”

William Saunderson Meyer, Sunday Times (South Africa)

“Harrowing and intensely sad, but Erasmus structures her novel so cleverly and has such a lively, witty style that you never feel bogged down […] This is one of those rare books that will make you laugh and cry. Highly recommended.”

Jane Vorster, YOU Magazine (South Africa)

“Barbara Erasmus has achieved something remarkable here. […] There are passages in this book which will move you to tears but there are also many that will provoke laughter. And Erasmus’s elegant and skilled writing hooks you in from page one – there is a cracking good opening line. The pace is beautifully controlled; there is no wallowing in horrors, though horrors are present.”

Margaret Van Klemperer, The Witness (South Africa)

“Barbara Erasmus writes with acute perception about human behaviour, dissecting the motivations of her characters with a surgeon’s skill. […] [A] consummate story teller.” – Janet Van Eeden, LitNet (South Africa)

“It’s curious how the gravity of serious subjects can best be expressed through humour. Comedy humanises: the light touch gives weight. Erasmus has used it to great effect in this tragic story of a family’s battle to come to terms with early-onset, and ultimately fatal, Alzheimer’s.”

Aly Verbaan, Cape Times (South Africa)

Chameleon

Chameleon has taken local crime writing into the corporate world of stockbrokers and insider trading. It’s in a class of its own – a story that probes through the façade of the middleclass and the financially secure to reveal not only a bankruptcy but a carelessness that matches the brutality of any drug dealer. Nobody dies in Chameleon but lifestyles are shattered as devastatingly as if there had been a killing.

Mike Nicol, Fine Music Radio   

Barbara Erasmus writes with acute perception about human behaviour, dissecting the motivations of her characters with a surgeon’s skill. This is a compelling novel keeping the reader intrigued as snippets of information are fed to lure one inevitably towards the surprising conclusion. Erasmus is a consummate story teller. Chameleon deserves to be widely read.

Janet Van Eeden, LitNet  

Erasmus is a literate, witty and empathetic writer. Chameleon is a nuanced look at crime and punishment in an almost Dostoyevskian sense, rather than providing the quick thrills most adrenaline-addicted crime junkies will be looking for.

The narrator tells a simple tale of how her Cape Town stockbroker husband ends up in Pollsmoor Prison because of a series of financial shenanigans, archetypal “victimless” crimes because no one is really disadvantaged. Erasmus, however, sketches convincingly a swath of destruction after this particular crime that goes beyond a mere ripple in the proverbially amorphous financial markets.

William Saunderson-Meyer, The Weekender

Chameleon is a fascinating and intriguing read. Erasmus seems to have an unusual insight into how people behave and, layer by layer, she peels the skin off her characters to show the reader what’s underneath. The words and phrases that Erasmus uses so skillfully also have a disquieting undertone, which adds to the tension of this intelligently written thriller.

Brian Joss, www.inl.co.za

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Even With Insects

Seldom have I come across a book that weaves the immediate magic of this one. Beneath the surface humour are currents and depths that touch the angst or half-hidden fears of many South Africans. The tone, extremely funny in places, foreshadows later events that are tragic. The author seems to suggest that life is a gift, precious, complex, often sad, and always unpredictable.

An extraordinary feature of this book is a compelling honesty that has an almost visceral effect. even with insects is truly a remarkable book.

Dr. Michael Hurry, Sunday Independent 

even with insects by Barbara Erasmus was a joyous read. This is a wonderful story with a powerful and delicious message about life. It has a ‘Sex and the City’ feel about it, with the main relationships centering on best girlfriends, and the love and support they provide for each other. There is also a tender undertone to the story that explores change, desire and regret. Any woman who has grown up in the suburbs of Cape Town, in both the old and new South Africa, will recognise aspects of it. If you’ve ever walked through Cape Town on a warm summer’s day, had a mother-in-law who reminded you of a Doberman, or drunk red wine into the night with your best friends, you will like this book. It had me roaring with laughter every few pages.

Nandi Roos, Cape Times

A wicked sense of humour ensures that Barbara Erasmus pulls off her new book with flair. It follows the lives of three friends whose lives are complicated by random decisions that determine their life paths. The major issues are very relevant to society today such as suicide, losing a child, AIDS, infertility, infidelity and social standing. Mostly depressing topics, yes, but Erasmus carries them off with panache.

Alison Marshall, Citizen

Kaleidoscope

I was, quite simply, blown away by the magical quality of this book. Erasmus combines an uncompromising audit of emotion with a lyricism that she wields like a knife.

This book is an absolute dream and should not be missed.

Jen Crocker, Cape Times

Kaleidoscope is one of the most powerful and absorbing South African novels I have read this year. The book describes the impact of an autistic child on the already stressed relationship between two very different sisters. Claire’s an actuary. Kate’s an actor. Each is secretly resentful of what the other has achieved. It takes the birth of a complicated baby, Amy, who is autistic to show them they have in common.

Julia Paterson, Citizen

Barbara Erasmus’s Kaleidoscope is an insightful family drama anchored by a girl toddler’s autism. The Johannesburg setting, the use of familiar events and signifiers, such as known newspapers gives the novel an authentic feeling. The message is a universal lesson of difference and weakness can become a source of power that influences the course of people’s lives. The compartmentalized narrative clearly depicts a contemporary South African situation but for a change, the differences that are depicted aren’t because of race or gender; and money and success do not create social acceptance like in many conventional stories. The reader is guided with great lucidity into the workings of an autistic mind.

Fumani Diseko, Mail & Guardian, Winter Reading Supplement

Barbara Erasmus has written an absorbing novel, which deals with a serious subject without losing sight of the fact that a novel must be essentially entertaining. She creates the sisters with a believable dexterity and their behaviour at opposite ends of the emotional spectrum is very intriguing. The central dynamic of the novel is believable and compelling. The added facts that one learns about autism and Asperger’s Syndrome are finally a bonus.

Janet Van Eeden, The Witness    

Kaleidoscope steers clear of the story that has become the norm in South Africa – apartheid – and takes an intense peak into a family which is turned up, down and all around when a new member joins it. The newcomer unknowingly pulls the estranged family’s strings together. She doesn’t know it but she is what brings them together and at the same time, tears them apart. This is an important book as it talks about the effect autism has on a family. Kaleidoscope is a welcome change as a story that is proudly South African and yet tackles something other than racism and apartheid.

Hannah Wanjelani, Pretoria News

Fine powers of observation, sensitive and accurate – a poignant account of autism and Aperger’s syndrome.

Dr C. Lombard, Psychologist, Unica School for Learners with Autism, Pretoria

Autism is an extremely complex disorder that is rarely understood unless people have been exposed to its victims or have done a vast amount of research. On reading Kaleidoscope, I was quite amazed at the incredible insight Erasmus has developed concerning the minds of people with Asperger’s Syndrome. I believe Kaleidoscope will make a truly significant difference as regards society’s awareness and understanding of Asperger Syndrome.

Jill Stacey, National Convenor; Autism South Africa

Kaleidoscope is an insightful and touching book. The text paints a complex and intricate picture of both autism and savant skills – a kaleidoscope picture which changes as the autistic savant moves along the life spectrum.

Darold Treffert, Author of Extraordinary People – An Exploration of the Savant Syndrome

Claire is ice blue, triangular, beautiful. Her speciality is lists, she remembers them verbatim. Katherine is red, multi-angled, a chameleon slipping into whatever role she is playing and making it seem authentic. Amy won’t let anyone cross her boundaries, she is a butterfly that has folded her wings and crept back into her cocoon. Kaleidoscope is a novel about shifting perspectives within a family brought about by the birth of an autistic child.

Exclusive Books, Lead Reads – April 2004, Fanatics Quarterly – Autumn 2004

Kaleidoscope is an intriguing novel about shifting perspectives within a family brought about by the birth of an autistic child. Primarily about relationships, insights are given into the difference between early infantile autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and social phobia.

Exclusive Books, Homebru Campaign

Kaleidoscope holds a very important but difficult message, artfully delivered and engagingly told. Every parent with a special needs child should read this – there is so much here that will be comforting.

Don Tubesing, President – Publishers Marketing Association (www.pma-online.org)

Erasmus has not only written a book as page-turning as any thriller, she has graced it with lyrical writing and thorough but unobtrusive and fascinating research. I started it at 11.00 am one day, planning to read a chapter or two and by 4.00pm the same day had finished it. With sympathy but without sentimentality, Erasmus shows the effect autism has not only on the autistic child but on her family – good effects and bad effects but always believable effects.

Vicky Canning, Sandton Literary Agency

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