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Greg Lazarus’ When in Broad Daylight I Open My Eyes Launched at The Book Lounge

Lisa Lazarus and Greg Fried are

The launch of When in Broad Daylight I Open My Eyes, the debut novel by Greg Lazarus (husband-and-wife writing duo Greg Fried and Lisa Lazarus) attracted a full house to The Book Lounge last week.

Henrietta Rose-Innes, Greg Fried & Lisa LazarusWhen in Broad Daylight I Open My EyesBook Lounge owner, Mervyn Sloman, introduced the authors, describing the novel as an “extremely well written, tight, entertaining, thought-provoking psychological thriller”, and predicting that readers will be clamouring for more. He also welcomed the award-winning South African writer Henrietta Rose-Innes who joined the couple in a lively and entertaining conversation that held the audience in thrall.

Rose-Innes opened with a description of the novel as as a “pacy, suspenseful, gripping, at times shocking, at times hilarious” read with profound psychological and philosophical insights below the surface that arrived in an “elegant and seamless manner”. She observed how the authors’ voices had been woven together in a similarly smooth manner that left the reader marvelling at the achievement. Contemplating the genesis of When in Broad Daylight, Rose-Innes recalled Lazarus and Fried’s previous joint publication, the fascinating memoir, The Book of Jacob, an account of childbirth and child rearing.

Noting the genre shift between The Book of Jacob and When in Broad Daylight, Rose-Innes asked Fried and Lazarus why they made the move to literary fiction. Fried observed how their memoir, The Book of Jacob, was written after their first year of parenting because the process had been such an existential shift; a crisis presenting itself insistently as a topic begging to be written about. “But fiction is our true love and this book is a homage to some of the books we love best,” he said.

Fried reflected on how formative events often stick around in one’s mind unconsciously, without obvious conscious impact, and reappear as an urge to be revisited imaginatively. He recalled the shattering and mortifying experience of walking through Amsterdam’s red light district with his parents at the age of 15, shortly after having read Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum. In an atmosphere where the air was fraught with lust, Fried felt he needed to collect himself and sought solace in a bookshop where he became engrossed in The Mathematical Experience by Philip J Davis and Reuben Hersh. According to Fried, “that experience, of lust, stripped of all civilisation, the things that are hidden from one in the grand plan, finally there was the relentless quest for the purest knowledge through this ultimate rationality. I wouldn’t have articulated it to myself at the time, but it seemed that all these things were unified, the mysticism, reason, violence and sex… It was a tremendous experience that is imaginatively revisited for me in the book.”

Lazarus remarked on the similarities between the two books: “In both, the atmosphere is quite gothic, ominous and dark. One wouldn’t expect a parenting book to be like that. We imported that feeling from the ‘how not to do things’ parenting manual. It’s an atmosphere that intrigues us, the sense that beneath a civilised surface there’s a great deal of anxiety and chaos….”

Following a thoroughly captivating discussion, Rose-Innes concluded by suggesting that the only way to truly understand “how a psycho-sexual horror might offer light relief”, is by reading the book.

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Liesl Jobson tweeted from the launch using #livebooks:

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