Jaco van Schalkwyk is an artist and a writer with enormous promise. His visual and literary imageries correspond. Published simultaneously in Afrikaans and English, his debut novel The Alibi Club is a poignant, meticulously constructed narrative, written in a starkly revealing prose. It tells the story of a medley of striking individuals who frequent the titular club in Brooklyn where booze and drugs flow in abundance, the jukebox and the pool table provide entertainment, and human relationships are forged and discarded through the nights. The narrator is a young South African who progresses from cleaner to bartender at The Alibi. He arrives in Brooklyn in 1998 and departs nearly a decade later. His observations paint an incisive portrait of the neighbourhood during that time, especially the radical transformation it experienced after the horrific attacks of 9/11.
The Alibi Club
Jaco van Schalkwyk
First published in the Cape Times on 24 October 2014.