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Ken Barris’s new short story collection combines everyday events with the surreal

As I walked into my house, I knew something was wrong. There was a smell in the air that I couldn’t identify – and then sound of breaking crockery from the kitchen confirmed it. I walked slowly to the kitchen door. A large male baboon looked up from a slice of bread laid flat on a cutting board, and turned to me. My shock at first prevented me from recognising the object in his left hand. It was a butter knife.

The Life of Worm & Other Misconceptions is a collection of new and critically acclaimed short stories by award-winning author Ken Barris. They combine everyday events with the surreal: the title is centered on a dog called Worm; in another, a husband and wife quarrel over a plugless lamp; and in another, a man encounters a speaking baboon in his kitchen.

Lyrical and humorous, these stories concretise the human condition via the author’s characteristically unfettered style.

Ken Barris has won various literary awards, including the UJ Prize, the M-Net Book Prize and the Ingrid Jonker Prize. He has been short-listed for the Commonwealth Prize for Best Book in Africa, and twice for the Caine Prize. His previous novels What Kind of Child (2006) and Life Underwater (2012) were published by Kwela. He lives in Cape Town.

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