Kenneth Bonert biography

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Kenneth Bonert
Photo: Richard Dubois

Kenneth Bonert

Kenneth Bonert Biography

Kenneth Bonert's work has appeared in McSweeney's 25, Grain, and The Fiddlehead. A former journalist, his work has appeared in the Globe and Mail and other publications. His story "Packers and Movers" was shortlisted for the Journey Prize and his novella "Peacekeepers, 1995" appeared in McSweeney's. The Lion Seeker is his first novel. Born in South Africa, he is the grandson of Lithuanian immigrants, and now calls Toronto home.



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Interview

Kenneth Bonert talks about The Lion Seeker, his first novel about a Jewish emigrant family who settle in South Africa before the Second World War.

Tell us about your book, The Lion Seeker.

It's a big, sweeping novel about a Jewish emigrant family who settle in South Africa before the Second World War. The main character is the son, Isaac Helger, who is desperate to fight his way out of poverty and into respected manhood. His mother is just as desperate to get her relatives out of Lithuania as the war looms closer. The two drives eventually intersect in a grueling crisis for Isaac. There's love, hate, secrets, violence, ambition — I tried not to pull any punches.

The best compliment I've received is that the book feels like the true reality of South Africa, even though it's set in the 1930s. I think that's because life in South Africa is so intense, with highs of unbelievable kindness and caring, and lows of the utmost depravity. A country of emotional extremes as well as economical. If I've done my job, the reader should feel that intensity with this book.

How did you get into Isaac's head while writing? What are some of his strengths and weaknesses?

It's all about finding the right voice, the right language. I struggled for a long time, but once I started to use the present tense for Isaac, he launched off the page and became real for me. He's a raw, tough,...

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Books by this Author

Books by Kenneth Bonert at BookBrowse
The Lion Seeker jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Kenneth Bonert but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Fabio Geda

    Fabio Geda

    Born in Turin in 1972, Fabio Geda is an Italian novelist who works with children in difficulties. He writes for several Italian magazines and newspapers, and teaches creative writing at the Italian school of storytelling, ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Lion Seeker

    Try:
    In the Sea There are Crocodiles
    by Fabio Geda

  • Linda Grant

    Linda Grant

    Linda Grant was born in Liverpool on 15 February 1951, the child of Russian and Polish Jewish immigrants. She was educated at the Belvedere School (GDST), read English at the University of York, completed an M.A. in English ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    The Lion Seeker

    Try:
    When I Lived In Modern Times
    by Linda Grant

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