Today we bring you an extract from the second novel by EU Literary Award winner Zinaid Meeran. With Tanuki Ichiban, launched at The Book Lounge last month, Meeran enters the burgeoning world of speculative fiction.
The following extract comes from the book’s fictional “Preface”:
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Chanboon and Meeran went way back. They started small, basic shoplifting, planning a meal to the tee and lifting those ingredients only, plus one small kitchen fancy: tea-cosy, bag of ornate serviettes, those rings you put on napkins, that kind of thing. Things started to escalate, of course. Meeran had this thing for the strand wolf, the beach hyena, even wore his hair like one, ironed nice and straight and long like a matric dance queen from Bonteheuwel. Even in the Vanuatan jungle he would rhapsody about this bloody thing like it was Lady Di. Chanboon was deceptively neat and groomed, but his mind was chaos. The pair of them managed not to spend a cent on groceries for years. Must have taken Rip Roaring Good for well on thirty thousand rand. One day Chanboon was in the grains/flour aisle feasting on a cocktail of mixed carbohydrate: bulgur, tapioca, semolina, bread flour, cake flour, whole wheat flour, and some chickpea flour and quinoa – he liked a balanced meal – when he looked up, face dusted with shades of powder from white to brown, into the face of Minke Sable herself, self-made millionaire, C-in-C of the Rip Roaring Good organic supermarket chain, self-confessed hottie, raw foodist and celibate. Not having a single one of her own teeth was no impediment whatsoever to her hotness – she was even proud of having worn every one of ’em down through chewing raw fruit ’n veg. Good thing about dentures, she said, was she could have jewels embedded in them without messing around drilling holes in the enamel or nothin’. Instead of kakking Chanboon out she took him home, showered him down fully clothed – there was so much flour on him they collected enough dough to make a half-dozen mixed-grain rolls from the run-off. In no time Chanboon had Minke off the raw food and the sex-starvation. Chanboon and Sable were quite an item; the tabloids couldn’t get enough of ’em, hipster princess and notorious good-for-nothing troublemaker, fairy-tale shit. But Meeran, kak-furious! First he used propaganda: Minke’s face was too much like a baby camel, that she was a capitalist pig and a bourgeois, colonialist of course, a preachy raw foodist and Chanboon were the founders of the original chapter of the anarchist Bandakoots – now a Cee Beebies cartoon – so that kind of guerilla-speak was to be expected but that’s no way to talk about your best friend’s girl. Chanboon was a sensitive, impressionable sort and he started to evade Minke, she got clingy, and he cut her off. Next thing, he’s vegging out watching a cooking show on BBC Lifestyle – poached from the neighbouring block of high-end condos – when who does he see in the audience but Sable and Meeran, giggling over some fancy tower of cake made to look like a melting igloo, that won the finals of World’s Best Chef for Darius Coochoomber III. Killer scam! Chanboon, a scraper of note, didn’t have a cent so he walked to Dubai along the Indian Ocean rim. Took him a year, even with a stint spent as a child soldier and qat runner among the Shufta of Somaliland, and a talk-show host on a small TV station in the thriving South African protectorate of Antananarivo. By the time he pitched in Dubai, Sable and Meeran were back in town – the good lady, according to People at least, recently knocked up – to watch Coochoomber defend his world title. It didn’t take long for Chanboon to infiltrate the circles of the tabloid darlings – his former career as a smuggler of endangered species for the Cape Town craze in extreme cooking meant he was well connected to the world of haute cuisine. Rumours started that Sable and Chanboon were back in the sack, all true. The duel was at dawn and involved the ancient art of camel-fencing – though I’m surprised I’d never heard of the practice before. The method: the duelists mount rival camels who fence using their long necks, while the riders lash at each other with whatever comes to mind and isn’t too awkward to carry on a bucking camel. Chanboon died at thirteen hundred hours, crushed into a smallish ball, when his camel’s legs gave out after seven straight hours of fencing. Far from reveling in the victory Meeran hired four Dubai playboys on jet skis to have himself drawn and quartered. He had been reading medieval texts and had grown enamoured of this particular way of bringing about death. He thought it postmodern to have oneself drawn and quartered, a form of waterborne assisted suicide, hara kiri for the Kristal and Kalashnikov set – so he told the tabloids – though they swopped postmodern for “fun”. One of those playboys was myself. Meeran and I showed no excitement at renewing our acquaintance in such odd circumstances. As for Chanboon, that he was meant to have died in Vanuatu three years previous did give me a funny feeling but it wouldn’t do to intrude, I figured he beat that flukefly after all. Meeran didn’t make a sound. Would’ve expected the shouts of a man being separated in four unequal parts to carry over the racket of four jet skis, no matter what the mechanic said about how well-tuned the engines were. (Meeran got them checked special. Said he wouldn’t take any chances with misfiring on this special occasion). We described lazy eights around the corpse waiting for the Java sharks to finish him off. When I checked out my eyelashes in the mirror back at the hotel, they were heavy with salt.
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eBook: Tanuki Ichiban by Zinaid Meeran
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