The Book of Happenstance


by Ingrid Winterbach

June 14, 2011
novel | pb | 254 pgs
5.5" x 8.5"

"This is an extraordinary story from an extraordinary writer. . . . If you haven’t experienced the mind of Ingrid Winterbach yet, she is a writer who clings to your soul." 
Pretoria News

A middle-aged lexicographer, Helena Verbloem, travels alone to Durban to assist in the creation of a dictionary of Afrikaans words that have fallen out of use. Shortly after her arrival, her apartment is burglarized, and her collection of precious shells, shells that she had been collecting for a lifetime, is stolen. Meeting with indifference from the local police, she decides to investigate the crime on her own, with the help of her new friend from the Museum of Natural History, Sof. While investigating the crime, Helena reflects on the life she’s lived—her ex-husband, her daughter, her lovers, her childhood—and begins to fall in love with her married boss, Theo Verway.

An alternately sublime and satirical meditation on love, loss, and obsession, Ingrid Winterbach's The Book of Happenstance is an emotionally affecting masterpiece from one of South Africa’s most exciting authors. (Read an Excerpt)

Translated from the Afrikaans by Dirk & Ingrid Winterbach


About the Author: Ingrid Winterbach is an artist and novelist whose work has won South Africa’s M-Net Prize, Old Mutual Literary Prize, the University of Johannesburg Prize for Creative Writing, and the W.A. Hofmeyr Prize. To Hell with Cronjé won the 2004 Hertzog Prize, an honor she shares with the novelists Breyten Breytenbach and Etienne Leroux.

"This text is, in all meanings of the word, sublime." 
Die Burger

"In her latest novel Ingrid Winterbach is at her best: complex, smart, mischievous and without equal."