Skip to content

The Lion Seeker

A Novel

By Kenneth Bonert

“A taut, visceral account of a young Jewish boy’s African life . . . offering at times page-turning thrills and at others a painful meditation on destiny and volition.” — NPR, All Things Considered

A powerful family saga, The Lion Seeker is a thrilling ride through the life of Isaac Helger, from redheaded hooligan on the streets of Johannesburg to striving young man on the make. Growing up in the shadow of World War II, Isaac is caught between his mother’s urgent ambition to bring her sisters to safety out of the old world and his own desire for the freedoms of the new. But soon his mother’s carefully guarded secret takes them to the diamond mines, where mysteries are unveiled in the desert rocks and Isaac begins to learn the bittersweet reality of success bought at truly any cost.

“[A] master storyteller . . . Bonert’s zest for description, his attention to social nuances, and his eagerness to tell a large story in a large way . . . [creates] a big, richly detailed novel.” — Tablet Magazine

“Raw and ambitious.” — Moment

“Astonishingly mature, admirably incautious . . . It’s visually and thematically sweeping, rich with diverse personalities, packed with tender waves and roiling crests of love, loss, hope, hatred.” — National Post (Canada)

“Stunning.” — Jewish Daily Forward

“Powerful and thoroughly engrossing . . . To read it is to be reminded how great a great novel can be.” — David Bezmozgis, author of The Free World

Format

Book

More Formats

Ebook

The Lion Seeker : a novel

Availability

1 available at Sandhills
  • F Bonert, Fiction

Publish Date

2013

ISBN

9780547898049


Format: Book
Author: Bonert, Kenneth
Summary: Are you a stupid or a clever? Such is the refrain in Isaac Helger's mind as he makes his way from redheaded hooligan to searching adolescent to striving young man on the make. His mother's question haunts every choice. Are you a stupid or a clever? Will you find a way to lift your family out of Johannesburg's poor inner city, to buy a house in the suburbs, to bring your aunts and cousins from Lithuania? Isaac's mother is a strong woman and a scarred woman; her maimed face taunts him with a past no one will discuss. As World War II approaches, then falls upon them, they hurtle toward a catastrophic reckoning. Isaac must make decisions that, at first, only seem to be life-or-death, then actually are. Meanwhile, South Africa's history, bound up with Europe's but inflected with its own accents--Afrikaans, Zulu, Yiddish, English--begins to unravel. Isaac's vibrant, working-class, Jewish neighborhood lies near the African slums; under cover of night, the slums are razed, the residents forced off to townships. Isaac's fortune-seeking takes him to the privileged seclusion of the Johannesburg suburbs, where he will court forbidden love. It partners him with the unlucky, unsinkable Hugo Bleznick, selling miracle products to suspicious farmers. And it leads him into a feud with a grayshirt Afrikaaner who insidiously undermines him in the auto shop, where Isaac has found the only work that ever felt true. And then his mother's secret, long carefully guarded, takes them to the diamond mines, where everything is covered in a thin, metallic dust, where lions wait among desert rocks, and where Isaac will begin to learn the bittersweet reality of success bought at truly any cost. A thrilling ride through the life of one fumbling young hero, The Lion Seeker is a glorious reinvention of the classic family and coming-of-age sagas. We are caught--hearts open and wrecked--between the urgent ambitions of a mother who knows what it takes to survive and a son straining against the responsibilities of the old world, even as he is endowed with the freedoms of the new.
Title: The Lion Seeker : a novel / Kenneth Bonert.
Publisher Date: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
Subject: Jews -- South Africa -- Fiction Johannesburg (South Africa) -- Fiction South Africa -- History -- 1909-1961 -- Fiction.
Isbn: 9780547898049 0547898045
Current Holds: 0
System Items Available: 1
System Items Total: 1
Call Number: F Bonert
Oclc: 847985735
Upc:
Bib Id: 455143

Format: Book
Author: Bonert, Kenneth.
Summary: Are you a stupid or a clever? Such is the refrain in Isaac Helger's mind as he makes his way from redheaded hooligan to searching adolescent to striving young man on the make. His mother's question haunts every choice. Are you a stupid or a clever? Will you find a way to lift your family out of Johannesburg's poor inner city, to buy a house in the suburbs, to bring your aunts and cousins from Lithuania? Isaac's mother is a strong woman and a scarred woman; her maimed face taunts him with a past no one will discuss. As World War II approaches, then falls upon them, they hurtle toward a catastrophic reckoning. Isaac must make decisions that, at first, only seem to be life-or-death, then actually are. Meanwhile, South Africa's history, bound up with Europe's but inflected with its own accents--Afrikaans, Zulu, Yiddish, English--begins to unravel. Isaac's vibrant, working-class, Jewish neighborhood lies near the African slums; under cover of night, the slums are razed, the residents forced off to townships. Isaac's fortune-seeking takes him to the privileged seclusion of the Johannesburg suburbs, where he will court forbidden love. It partners him with the unlucky, unsinkable Hugo Bleznick, selling miracle products to suspicious farmers. And it leads him into a feud with a grayshirt Afrikaaner who insidiously undermines him in the auto shop, where Isaac has found the only work that ever felt true. And then his mother's secret, long carefully guarded, takes them to the diamond mines, where everything is covered in a thin, metallic dust, where lions wait among desert rocks, and where Isaac will begin to learn the bittersweet reality of success bought at truly any cost. A thrilling ride through the life of one fumbling young hero, The Lion Seeker is a glorious reinvention of the classic family and coming-of-age sagas. We are caught--hearts open and wrecked--between the urgent ambitions of a mother who knows what it takes to survive and a son straining against the responsibilities of the old world, even as he is endowed with the freedoms of the new.
Title: The Lion Seeker : a novel / Kenneth Bonert.
Edition: First U.S. edition.
Publisher, Date: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
Description: 564 pages ; 24 cm
Subjects: Jews -- South Africa -- Fiction
Subjects: Johannesburg (South Africa) -- Fiction
Subjects: South Africa -- History -- 1909-1961 -- Fiction.
Genre: Historical fiction.
LCCN: 2013019330
ISBN: 9780547898049
ISBN: 0547898045
Requests: 0
Available Copies: 1
Total Copies: 1
Call Number: F Bonert