In the vein of The Book of M comes a “dynamic, fast-paced debut” (Publishers Weekly) and character-driven literary apocalyptic novel that explores life, love, and loss in a post-truth society.
In the aftermath of a deadly outbreak—reminiscent of the 1962 event of mass hysteria that was the Tangayika Laughter Epidemic—a city at the tip of Africa is losing its mind, with residents experiencing hallucinations and paranoia. Is it simply another episode of mass hysteria, or something more sinister? In a quarantined city in which the inexplicable has already occurred, rumors, superstitions, and conspiracy theories abound.
During these strange days, Faith works as a fulltime corpse collector and a freelance “truthologist,” putting together desperate pieces of information to solve problems. But after Faith agrees to help an orphaned girl find her abducted baby brother, she beings to wonder whether the boy is even real. Meanwhile, a young man named Sans who trades in illicit goods is so distracted by a glimpse of his dream woman that he lets a bag of money he owes his gang partners go missing—leaving him desperately searching for both and son questioning his own sanity.
Over the course of a single week, the paths of Faith, Sans, and a cast of other hustlers—including a data dealer, a drug addict, a sin eater, and a hyena man—will cross and intertwine as they move about the city looking for lost souls, uncertain absolution, and answers that may not exist. The Down Days is a “fascinating story” (HelloGiggles) that demonstrates “one of the most accurate depictions of the strange realities of life during a pandemic” (The A.V. Club) that you won’t want to put down.
Ilze Hugo is a South African debut author with degrees in fine arts and English studies, along with a Masters in creative writing from the University of Cape Town. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies like The Ghost Eater and Other Stories and My Holiday Shorts. As a freelance writer, she’s written for magazines to guidebooks to ad campaigns and even the odd comic. She lives by the ocean in Muizenberg, Cape Town, with her husband and two children.