Synopses & Reviews
In the vein of The Book of M comes a fast-paced, character-driven literary apocalyptic novel that explores life, love, and loss in a post-truth society.
In the aftermath of a deadly outbreak — reminiscent of the 1962 event of mass hysteria that was the Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic — a city at the tip of Africa is losing its mind, with residents experiencing hallucinations and paranoia. Is it simply another episode of mass hysteria, or something more sinister? In a quarantined city in which the inexplicable has already occurred, rumors, superstitions, and conspiracy theories abound.
During these strange days, Faith works as a full-time corpse collector and a freelance “truthologist,” putting together disparate pieces of information to solve problems. But after Faith agrees to help an orphaned girl find her abducted baby brother, she begins to wonder whether the boy is even real. Meanwhile, a young man named Sans who trades in illicit goods is so distracted by a glimpse of his dream woman that he lets a bag of money he owes his gang partners go missing-leaving him desperately searching for both and soon questioning his own sanity.
Over the course of a single week, the paths of Faith, Sans, and a cast of other hustlers — including a data dealer, a drug addict, a sin eater, and a hyena man—will cross and intertwine as they move about the city, looking for lost souls, uncertain absolution, and answers that may not exist.
"Science fiction and spirituality intertwine in Hugo's fun, apocalyptic mystery debut....[A]rresting prose, an effortless blend of Afrikaans slang and invented jargon, peppered with evocative turns of phrase...[a}dynamic, fast-paced debut." Publishers Weekly
"Expressive...highly imaginative....The present-day, alternative-Earth setting and prevalent Afrikaans slang combine to make a vivid and timely portrait of desolate lives looking for hope in a town closed off from the outside world." Booklist
"Readers seeking a fun sci-fi/fantasy mystery set in a weird and sadly familiar dystopia will find The Down Days uplifting." Shelf Awareness
"With a fresh new voice that jumps off the page and an incisive, probing plunge into the double-edged coin of survival and grief, The Down Days brings the tenacious synchronicity of Tom Robbins to science fiction with the pacing and mystery of a thriller." Delilah S. Dawson, New York Times Bestselling Author
"A shaggy dog story and modern noir...highly literary speculative fiction that blends elements of sci-fi and mysticism but grounds the high concepts with charming characters and a brilliantly realized setting....Surprisingly comforting." The A.V. Club
About the Author
Ilze Hugo is a South African debut author with degrees in fine arts and English studies, along with a Masters in creative writing from the University of Cape Town. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies like The Ghost Eater and Other Stories and My Holiday Shorts. As a freelance writer, she’s written for magazines to guidebooks to ad campaigns and even the odd comic. She lives by the ocean in Muizenberg, Cape Town, with her husband and two children.