Banquet at Brabazan could not be more Cape Town. It is set in and around Long Street and the City Bowl, but also touches on the suburbs and townships of Cape Town. It is another weird mix of fantasy and reality, images and characters from her previous book A Time of Angels.
Obvious references to existing people like Graham Weir and Not The Midnight Mass, or Pieter Toerien and Pretty Yende, to name a few, as well as actual buildings, streets and places, are interweaved with imagined characters, places and spaces and it’s strange and confusing and delicious and unsettling. It is also underscored with a weird nostalgia, abundance, and Italian decadence too odd to explain properly.
The characters are beautiful, and strange and awkwardly special. There is an angel who lives at the YMCA. There is the real dwarf who often stands at the robot in front of the Engen in Orange Street, only here he has an imagined wife and life. There is a cross dressing Jewish business man who has the most beautiful affair with his secretary. There is the Long Street we know, and the one we kind of know, or at least suspect, and the magical Long Street we wish we got more glimpses of, and the Long Street we fantasise about.
There is the disturbing reality of child trafficking and muti murders, of drugs and xenophobia, of the Angolan war, of Mozambican horrors. There is politics, and poverty and nasty human stuff. There are beautiful costumes, romantic paintings, beautiful light and music.
It is a really, really strange and totally haunting read. I want to be in the movie.