On the slopes of Northcliff, between eight and ten Lancaster Drive, there is an unnumbered house. Joggers, dog walkers, commuters don’t notice the discrepancy because the house can’t be seen from the road and the walls facing the street have been built in seamless face-brick fashion from one numbered house to the next.Page 1
In a nutshell
In the leafy suburbs of Northcliff, Johannesburg lies a house no one knows about. To get in you must receive an invitation from either the man, Mustafa or woman, The Mortician who run this property. A property built to be one with nature and developed as a new-age end of life facility. Five strangers enter the unnumbered house – a couple in crisis, a former nun, a model and a newly released offender – desperately seeking something that will give their life meaning. But to get what they need they need to trust their hosts and open themselves to alternate experiences. Not all will survive, but all of them will be shown the limits of their living.
Book Club Notes
First up it must be said that this book is exceptionally well crafted, but I knew it would be the minute I saw it was published by the Picador Africa imprint of Pan Macmillan which is known for its exceptional books. It is unlike anything I’ve read before and at times feels trippy. Thompson manages to perfectly capture 7 different characters and each of their complexities, making you feel empathetic towards the ones you don’t much care for. It’s a book that touches on the existential question of the meaning of life and a topic that has in recent years come more and more into the light – choosing how you die. While The Institute for Creative Dying is not an assisted dying institute for those with terminal illnesses there are commonalities between the questions and complexities that arise. The contents are out there, alternative and for lack of a better word, trippy. At times it was a bit much for me but nonetheless I appreciated how well it was written and how unique the plot was.
You’re into alternative experiences, want to read more local fiction or often think about the meaning of life, ethics of death and one’s right to choose how to spend one’s final days.
Writing – 10/10
Character Development – 9/10
Plot Twist – 6/10
Shareability – 7/10
The Nitty Gritty
A note on our book ratings
Storyline: How good is the storyline? Is it believable and complex or does it make you shake your head in its ridiculousness?
Writing: How well written is the book? Do you find yourself wowed by the writing or unimpressed?
Character Development: Do the characters evolve and grow through the book and are they multi-dimensional?
Plot Twist: Were you able to predict the end, or did the author give you some surprises along the way to keep you on your toes?
Shareability: How likely are you to share the book?