In the one tumultuous day, Ch’anzu loses hir job and finds wife Scarlet in bed with a stranger. As life unexpectedly spirals out of control, Ch’anzu turns to hir charismatic Aunt Maé for comfort and wisdom, and makes the bold move to work on a project in Serengotti, a migrant African outpost in rural Australia.
In a novel haunted by the strangeness and yearnings of a displaced community – both beautiful and fractured – Ch’anzu is forced to confront hir many demons. Back in the city, brother Tex has gone missing. In Serengotti violence and infidelity simmer.
This is a novel bathed in sensuous, original language, a love letter to the strong women who bind families together despite everything. It’s also a tender remembrance of the many who haven’t or couldn’t survive the dislocations and tragedies of their turbulent pasts.
‘Thrillingly alive, visceral, funny, and poetic, this is a story of what happens after your world falls apart, and you are forced to piece together a new one—a bittersweet tale of love, desire and kin, of what we carry and what holds us afloat. A novel that dances with a haunted grace, with characters who will sear themselves into your memory.’ —DAVID CARLIN, award-winning author and editor of eight books, including The After-Normal, Our Father Who Wasn’t There and A–Z of Creative Writing Method
Such an imaginative use of words. Serengotti. And funny and sad and angry and loving and forgiving and true and everything that a book should be. I felt like I had stepped into a slice of Afro-Australia that was completely new, but intriguing and beguiling, and I really didn’t want the journey to end. Ch’anzu is really worth discovering. —Craig Cormick OAM, Australian science communicator and award-winning author of Unwritten Histories and A Funny Thing Happened at 27,000 Feet…
‘This fever dream of a story spun my head and left me with upside-down impressions of the inhabitants of and happenings in an African village in rural Australia. Bacon uses surrealism to tell the story of Ch’anzu, who loses hir wife and job on the same day. Zie ends up in Serengotti, a village for people who have escaped violence and trauma, where zie’s been employed to create an entertainment experience that will help bring healing to the villagers… Bacon shows that you can break the traditional structure and all of the rules of writing a novel, and still tell a cracking story.’ –Jacqueline Nyathi, Shona Reads
‘The writing pulses across the page, electric with images and style. It moves between interior monologues, straight
narrative, and poetic descriptions with ease, incorporating Australian slang, Swahili, Bantu, and even made-up
language explanations. The characters occupy a rich linguistic landscape—and there are a lot of them, all drawn with
fine detail and precision: a pair of healing twins, Lau and Tau; an ethereal night-runner, Aviana; and Sticky, a former
child soldier who claims to have killed a lion.
A twisting plot, a setting rife with potential danger, and a past full of its own skeletons all build to a head in Serengotti,
a novel about an African Australian and the migrant community zie comes to call hir own.’
CAMILLE-YVETTE WELSCH Foreword starred advance review (July / August 2023)
‘Eugen Bacon’s Serengotti follows Ch’anzu, a gender-nonconforming narrator, on a day from hell. Ch’anzu loses hir job, and walks in (totally hungover) on hir wife Scarlet having pneumatic sex with a guy half her age. The opening chapters are set in contemporary Melbourne but there’s a hyperactive buzz of disorientation and dislocation in the prose, which has a futuristic feel and surges forward using the unusual second-person perspective. You’re put into Ch’anzu’s shoes as hir life crisis leads first to the wisdom of Aunt Mae, and on to a migrant African community, Serengotti, deep in the Australian bush. Eugen Bacon has a propulsive experimental style that voraciously incorporates idiom from urban, internet, Australian and African contexts to forge something new. Momentum builds quickly in this rush of a novel, which illuminates questions of gender and race as they are experienced, and has a sharper focus on how the world turns in urban Australia than most new fiction.’
Cameron Woodhead, The Age /Sydney Morning Herald
‘Compassionate, controversial, fascinating and deeply introspective, Serengotti is an outstanding novel that has a very wry element to the wording, which keeps what could easily have been a dysfunctional storyline glued well together, to form an unforgettable view into a world that is all too real to many.’ Ian Banks, Blue Wolf Reviews
‘Like a bento box packed with mysterious and wondrous sushi creations, each of these chapters , be it an African village horror story, an Australian urban scifi relationship drama, an erotic computer fantasy, a cautionary tale of sexual obsession, or a creepy satire about death calling on a wily old African dictator in hiding, is a stunning surprise package in its own right. The broad canvas of diverse and hybrid genres is bound together by the unique voice of a master storyteller and poet, and pickled in a spicy sauce that is in turns compassionate, erotic, fiercely feminist and darkly funny. Sometimes all at once. —Greg Woodland, Australian crime writer, author of The Night Whistler and The Carnival is Over