On Thursday, 27 June 2019, Wordsworth, Sea Point hosted author Barry Varkel for the launch of his latest novel, Goy Vey – A Gentile’s Guide to Judaism. Braving the winter chill, fans and those curious turned out in their numbers to the much-anticipated launch event.
For the uninitiated, in 2016 Barry, a respected lawyer, writer, comedian and short-film maker, published Nigiri Law – a surreal mini-thriller that was politically incorrect from start to finish. Barry conjured up a cast of characters whose bizarre behaviour kept readers in stitches – and it then went on to become a sort of masterpiece of humour in the extremes.
In 2019 Barry, again wearing his writer’s hat, returned to the literary world with his latest fiction novel, Goy Vey – A Gentile’s Guide to Judaism.
Since hitting the shelves, the dark comedic page-turner has taken the Number One spot since the launch event.
For anyone familiar with Barry’s work, his latest novel does not disappoint. With its host of original, yet strangely familiar characters, Goy Vey’s appeal is universal, guaranteed to charm readers, regardless of culture, or background.
“We have so many good South African stories to tell, everyday stories about people and their lives outside of the misery and pain of endless political scandals and depressing news,” Barry says. “Yet South Africans seems to embrace political scandals and depressing news. I cannot understand why? It’s like an emotional rubbernecking of sorts”.
“So, with this in mind, I wrote Goy Vey – a Cape Town story about the lives of two families: a Jewish family and a non-Jewish family, a so-called “Gentile” family,” he shares.
Goy Vey is a book for everyone – it is a Cape Town story, a South African story. There is no political message in it. “There is no agenda,” He points out. “It is as much about Jews as it is about non-Jews, as it is about white people, as it is about black people”.
“It’s about peeling back the layers of everything that makes up a family in the modern age in South Africa, yet it could be placed anywhere else in the world. But we need a non-political South African story about everyday life, for no other reason than entertainment,” Barry asserts.
Goy Vey is that, a story about things on the inside, being very different to the way they appear on the outside. About how we might think – “just look at those bourgeoisie, middle class, white South Africans, they have everything: money, success, looks, family, love, good marriages”. But the reality is, if you peel back a few layers, it’s really just one or two steps away from complete disaster.
“We should open up to each other, and not be afraid, we should embrace each other and learn about each other’s idiosyncrasies and eccentricities, and not be frightened to share. Through sharing, we learn understanding and enjoyment.”
“This is what Goy Vey is all about,” Barry concludes. “It’s urgent work here in our weird and strange country, which is still divided after so much time. It’s about cohesion, about life in a multicultural society, where I can go to different parts of the city and experience different things, meet different people and have fun and laugh.”
Goy Vey – A Gentile’s Guide to Judaism
By Barry Varkel is available for sales at Wordsworth Sea Point now!