Green Lion


If there is an inner lion in us all, as Rose-Innes seems to suggest, her prose – weaving between muscular and lyrical – is well-equipped to capture what this might feel like. – Lara Feigel, 5-star review in The Telegraph

Of course, you’re never expecting the lion, are you? Like something coming up in the rear-view mirror. Much closer than it appears.

When a lion at a breeding park mauls an old school friend of his, Con must step in as the keeper of Sekhmet, the last remaining black-maned lioness in the world. In a Cape Town where fences keep people and wildlife apart, park officials and investors fret about their flagship big-cat project. And while Con grows steadily more bonded to his enigmatic charge, a cult of animal lovers with obscure alchemical aims seek to claim her as their own. When she escapes, Sekhmet engulfs the city’s imagination, stirring up rumours of terror and magic. In Con’s quest to track her down, he must enter the wilderness of a cordoned-off Table Mountain – and his own dark history.

Between frenzy and savagery, the great South African city is at the heart of the new novel … Of a rare magnetism, new proof that Henrietta Rose-Innes is today one of the most exciting South African authors. And that it is urgent to translate the rest of her work. – Gladys Marivat, Le Monde

Rose-Innes has written another extraordinary novel, lyrical, deftly plotted, and as full of life as the Ark. In the Cape Town of her imagination, a place both utterly strange and eerily familiar, wildness is always pressing up against the fence. The ‘animal’, she suggests, is not just out there but in here, shaping what we do and say, embedded in language itself like a stubborn gene. – Ivan Vladislavic

The Green Lion sees humanity’s longing for the wildness of animals as a desire for what remains most alien in our rational selves. Catching the animal heart in all of us, Rose-Innes imagines a world where ferocity itself is pushed to the brink of extinction. Poignant and unsentimental, this is an urgent story of quiet, lurking terror. – Patrick Flanery

Rose-Innes has been a spectacular writer since her first novel, Shark’s Egg, and each of her subsequent works has been a finely wrought delight. She delivers again in Green Lion with startling and satisfying results. – Jennifer Crocker, Cape Times

Remarkable … One of Rose-Innes’s most vital achievements as a novelist is to have … found other – beguilingly other – ways of writing the complex ecologies of which we form part … Pulsing behind it all is a something deeply sorrowful: a work of mourning for both the human losses within the book but also the life forms that are vanishing from the earth beyond … Green Lion reads as a local requiem for this global story. – Hedley Twidle, Sunday Times

The grand spectacle of extinction plays out in the fierce and compassionate fourth novel from Henrietta Rose-Innes … It’s the ability of Rose-Innes to plot a narrative with textured characters – with emotions, smells, stubborn streaks – that will keep you turning the pages … Memory and loss are at the centre of this immaculately conceived book that is as grand as it is personal, and more of a roar than a purr. – Charl Blignaut, City Press

It is the mortal coil that enfolds all of us which Rose-Innes conveys with breathtakingly incisive and evocative prose … It is the strange mix of violence and tenderness which gives Rose-Innes’s novel its great power … Green Lion is the author’s finest novel to date … Amid the deluge of forgettable stories caught up in a history of trauma, crime, dystopia, revenge, liberation, gratuitous misery and facile levity, Rose-Innes’s Green Lion stands as a solitary and shadowy work of genius. – Ashraf Jamal, Business Day

I was reading the novel with a view of the mountainside and I looked up from the page with a quiet thrill of pleasure. Just the thought of Sekhmet on the loose reanimates the mountain, retrieves it from something domesticated and familiar and restores to the landscape its wildness and strangeness. Her uneasy, unseen nearness haunts the prose, making you follow the lines of writing as though tiptoeing up a narrow track following the faint indent of paw prints, glancing over your shoulder and wiping sweat from your eyes. – Darrel Bristow-Bovey, Timeslive

This brilliant novel explores the animal instinct in human nature, the battle between chaos and order and the effects of the past on the present with writing so powerful it informs all your senses – you’ll smell, hear and feel Table Mountain. An intense, thought-provoking book you won’t be able to put down. –  Willem Moller, YOU

The characters’ longing for a deep connection with another being echoes a human desperation to preserve nature , but also to touch something bigger than themselves … Green Lion is a lovely book. – Louise Ferreira, Die Burger

Read reviews here and here.

Purchase the book here, or as an eBook (Southern Africa only): ePub or Kindle.

See more on the publisher’s website.



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