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Atlantic (2013-06)
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Biography, Literature & Literary studies


by Roode, Marli

Set against the backdrop of a country struggling to absorb its bloody history and forge a new democracy, CALL IT DOG asks whether justice and truth are more important than the bonds of loyalty and love, and explores what it is like to feel you no longer belong in the land of your birth - or to your own family.

Jo returns to South Africa after ten years in the UK to cover the riots sweeping the Jo'burg township of Alex. Nico, her estranged Afrikaans father, reappears and asks her to help prove his innocence in the murder of a black man, abducted by the security forces decades earlier.

As they set off on a road trip through South Africa's now-unfamiliar landscape, it becomes clear that Nico knows more about the murder than he is letting on, and Jo begins to wonder wheter she is his accomplice, or his captive.

Marli Roode was born in South Africa and moved to the UK when she was 17. After completing both a BA and an MA in Philosophy and Literature, she studied at Manchester University's Centre for the New Writing under MJ Hyland. Marli won the "Is There A Novelist In The House?" competition at the Manchester Literature Festival in 2009 with an extract from CALL IT DOG. She lives in London.

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A remarkably assured first novel… Call It Dog uses a road trip to provide a panoramic survey of post-apartheid South Africa… Jo’s contrasting, emblematic companions en route are vivid, outsize characters, and she makes a winning narrator.

Review: Sunday Times

A gripping journey into the deceptions of family and nation, Roode's nightmare vision of a father's complicity in past crimes is a sharp and chilling debut from a writer of clear eye and bracing voice.

Quote: Patrick Flanery

Her debut novel tells a story that is disquieting and compelling, announcing an astute and unusually gifted observer… Roode allows the slow unfolding of a journey steeped in tension, anxiety and occasional moments of uneasy tenderness… The tone is consistently one of taut, sombre reflectiveness, with indications in Roode's artfully worded descriptions of the range of this gifted young writer…

Review: Guardian

Marli Roode’s debut tackles some big themes – including the nature of white guilt and the causes of urban decay in South Africa… the assuredness with which Roode handles the nuances of the father-daughter dynamic here – particularly the way Jo’s loyalty to Nico persists in spite of her disgust at his actions – hints at greater things to come.

Review: Financial Times

Marli Roode takes a roller-coaster ride through the new South Africa, where the old demons don't retire, they merely reload, and nothing is quite what it seems. Call It Dog calls it like it is - a blistering debut.

Quote: Christopher Hope

Call It Dog is a deeply disturbing, at times shocking but always gripping tale of deception at both a family and national level. It is riveting.

Review: Business Day Live (South Africa)

French: Payot & Rivages

Quote: Client

A superbly written, intelligent, and powerful debut. Marli Roode is the real thing, and she's here to stay.

Quote: M.J. Hyland

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