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The Lion Seeker
"Here is the South African novel I've been waiting for." - Lynn Freed
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How did the novel's use of dialect and other stylistic choices affect your reading experience?

Created: 08/24/14

Replies: 21

Posted Aug. 24, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1318

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How did the novel's use of dialect and other stylistic choices affect your reading experience?

The novel's style is striking: it's written mostly in dialect, through approximations of the South African accent and many Yiddish phrases. Bonert also defies the normal convention of using quotation marks to distinguish speech. How did the style affect your reading experience? Did you feel that you were getting an authentic idea of how people sounded in this place and time?


Posted Sep. 01, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
laurief

Join Date: 09/08/12

Posts: 25

RE: How did the novel's use of dialect and other stylistic choices affect your reading experience?

I found the book difficult to read with the different dialect of the characters. For me, the story would have flowed much better if I didn't have to try and translate the dialog.


Posted Sep. 01, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joyces

Join Date: 06/16/11

Posts: 392

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RE: How did the novel's use of dialect and other stylistic choices affect your reading experience?

Though it did slow me down a bit in the reading I thought it was a most effective way to keep me reminded of all the many native languages that existed in the environment in which Isaac lived and worked. For someone like myself who has rarely had to communicate with someone who does not speak English it made the flow and intricacy of survival in Isaac's situation interesting and rather admirable.


Posted Sep. 01, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
beac

Join Date: 08/23/11

Posts: 70

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RE: How did the novel's use of dialect and other stylistic choices affect your reading experience?

It slowed me down while I tried to figure out what he was trying to say. After a while I just guessed and kept on reading, so I probably missed a little in understanding everything.


Posted Sep. 01, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebajane

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 184

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RE: How did the novel's use of dialect and other stylistic choices affect your reading experience?

I think its difficult to write a book based in a different language than English and make it believable. Either the author writes completely in English or throws in a foreign word now and then. I liked that there was authentic dialogue in this novel but I agree I often had to stop and "translate" what was being said. It did, at times, throw off the flow


Posted Sep. 01, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jww

Join Date: 05/31/11

Posts: 128

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In a positive, interesting way

At times it was difficult to understand but as the story went along, the words offered much to the mood and atmosphere. The use of dialect made the story more authentic and believable. If Isaac had spoken in a more anglicized way, it would not have seemed like he was a recent immigrant to So. Africa. The people he associated with spoke as he did. He was certainly capable of learning languages but I like the fact that his speech stayed true to his status and place.


Posted Sep. 01, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lynnw

Join Date: 09/01/11

Posts: 124

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RE: How did the novel's use of dialect and other stylistic choices affect your reading experience?

The use of different dialects definitely slowed down my reading, but it also added to showing the differences in the characters by race, religion and ethnic background.


Posted Sep. 01, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
mal

Join Date: 09/09/13

Posts: 155

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RE: How did the novel's use of dialect and other stylistic choices affect your reading experience?

Added texture and depth. Given the setting it added authenticity and pulled me into the environment. Without the dialect it would feel odd. Def a positive in my eyes.


Posted Sep. 02, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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mary annb

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 16

RE: How did the novel's use of dialect and other stylistic choices affect your reading experience?

It was somewhat disconcerting with the many dialogues. It might not have bothered me as much if I actually knew what accents actually sounded like


Posted Sep. 02, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jeanettel

Join Date: 01/05/12

Posts: 53

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RE: How did the novel's use of dialect and other stylistic choices affect your reading experience?

Encountering so many dialects and languages as Yiddish, Afrikaans, Zulu, and his broken English made for a slow read at first until I realized that usually the English that followed was a basic translation of the foreign words,


Posted Sep. 03, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
MarieA

Join Date: 10/12/11

Posts: 149

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RE: How did the novel's use of dialect and other stylistic choices affect your reading experience?

I found that when I started to read the novel, the use of dialect seemed to interfere with my getting into the story. However, it didn't take long for me to adjust to the author's style. His style in language adds to the realism of his presentation.


Posted Sep. 04, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
paml

Join Date: 10/25/12

Posts: 66

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RE: How did the novel's use of dialect and other stylistic choices affect your reading experience?

It gave authenticity to the novel. Yes it slowed the reader down, but I felt I was present in the moment.


Posted Sep. 07, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janeh

Join Date: 06/15/11

Posts: 158

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RE: How did the novel's use of dialect and other stylistic choices affect your reading experience?

Definitely slowed me down … especially in the beginning when I wasn't as invested in the story. Maybe if the author had stuck to only using one of the other languages but in mixing languages and dialects, it really took a while to latch on to the storyline. Perhaps that was intentional …..


Posted Sep. 09, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
annd

Join Date: 09/22/11

Posts: 4

RE: How did the novel's use of dialect and other stylistic choices affect your reading experience?

I had difficulty with the dialect , and at about page 100 I was about to abandon ship. That would have been tragic since it was either easier for me to understand or it was not as frequently used in the remainder of the book. Having thought about it, I found that it was a tool to set boundaries between the ethnic groups. It worked and I was happy to stay aboard.


Posted Sep. 13, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joycew

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 75

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RE: How did the novel's use of dialect and other stylistic choices affect your reading experience?

I thought it was a major problem; I would have quit reading if had picked up the book on my own., You can give an example of the style to make your point, but don't fill the whole book with it! Forcing you to read slowly takes up time that could be spent reading other books, and I am always looking forward to my next book (there are thousands to read).


Posted Sep. 13, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Hulananni

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 42

RE: How did the novel's use of dialect and other stylistic choices affect your reading experience?

I have never enjoyed reading dialect conversations so this was a tedious process for me to get through the book.


Posted Sep. 16, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
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deby

Join Date: 10/21/10

Posts: 16

RE: How did the novel's use of dialect and other stylistic choices affect your reading experience?

I don't mind reading dialect conversations but this one was so much so that I did not finish the book, even though the subject matter was compelling and I would have enjoyed the book otherwise. Maybe I will give it another shot at another time and see if I have the same reaction.


Posted Sep. 16, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
viquig

Join Date: 06/25/14

Posts: 15

RE: How did the novel's use of dialect and other stylistic choices affect your reading experience?

The use of dialect enriched the reading experience and helped to "place" the novel in South Africa. It was a bit rough going at first, trying to figure out the meanings of the Africanner and Zulu dialect. However, I caught on to the most common words and expressions after reading a few conversations. It helped me to say the words out loud.


Posted Sep. 19, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
barbarab

Join Date: 04/15/11

Posts: 39

RE: How did the novel's use of dialect and other stylistic choices affect your reading experience?

I had gotten a late start in reading this book, & the dialect slowed me down further. I found that it was difficult to even pick the book up, knowing what I was in for. I did not like it


Posted Sep. 22, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
roberts

Join Date: 08/20/13

Posts: 31

RE: How did the novel's use of dialect and other stylistic choices affect your reading experience?

The first few pages were difficult for me, but thereafter the dialect and the disregard for conventions of punctuation made the reading experience unique and memorable. I was surprised by how easily and quickly I adjusted to the absence of quotation marks and enjoyed the aesthetics of the "clean"pages. I suspect that the capitalization of "Clevers" and "Stupids" will prompt that classification and the characters of Isaac and Gitelle to stay with me for a long time.


Posted Sep. 25, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
RebeccaF

Join Date: 08/24/14

Posts: 12

RE: How did the novel's use of dialect and other stylistic choices affect your reading experience?

I can sympathize with others who found the author's use of dialect off-putting. Especially for people who are unfamiliar with the South African accent, it can be difficult to hear Bonert's approximations in your head, e.g. "bladey" for "bloody." I wonder if listening to the audiobook would obviate these problems?

On the other hand, one thing we haven't really discussed is the novel's descriptive language. I thought it was really fresh and interesting in places, with striking metaphors and alliteration. I picked out a couple of passages I really liked, from early and late in the novel, respectively:

"Behind the glass of the butcher shops there hang black logs of salt-cured biltong and fat bottleblue flies mass on the blooded gobs of sawdust swept into the gutter with the smelly chunks of horse kuk." (15) [a bit of a run-on sentence, but what great alliteration and images!]

"it's as if a cosmic dentist has paid a visit with twisting pliers and the land is bare with only gravel dimples to indicate where the great trunks once rooted." (505)


Posted Sep. 26, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
elise

Join Date: 04/22/11

Posts: 30

RE: How did the novel's use of dialect and other stylistic choices affect your reading experience?

I think the use of dialect does slow you down as most reviewers have noted; however, I think it added to the experience of being a Lithuanian - Jewish immigrant in South Africa! The lack of quotation marks I started to adjust to after a while.


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