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3.83  ·  Rating details ·  156 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
An elegant and evocative novel about people, place – and pests – by one of South Africa’s most exciting writers.

Katya Grubbs, like her father before her, deals in ‘the unlovely and unloved’. Yet in contrast to her father, she is not in the business of pest extermination, but pest relocation.

Katya’s unconventional approach brings her to the attention of a property developer
Paperback, 207 pages
Published August 1st 2011 by Umuzi
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Katya Grubbs is the owner of Painless Pest Relocations, a humane pest control company. A successful pest removal at the home of property developer Martin Brand earns her the opportunity to tackle the pest problems at Nineveh, Brand's residential sanctuary for the wealthy in the middle of bustling Cape Town, South Africa. The mysterious "gogga" has invaded the gated paradise, making it uninhabitable. The job is more challenging than expected because there are no obvious signs of an infestation. A ...more
Nineveh is an unusual novel that is quite short but feels much longer and quite dense.

I don't recall ever reading anything written by a South-African author or with a South African setting, which is quite strange. I've definitely never read anything that involved pest relocators/controllers. That was quite new and interesting. Unless you suffer from insectophobia, in which case, stay away.

The main character, Katya Grubbs, is a Painless Pest Relocator, who's attempting to get rid of what's consi
Oct 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs, 2016-reads
I was invited to read an advance copy of this novel by the publisher, which was furnished to me via NetGalley. I have read several recent publications by Gallic Books and I recommend their catalog whole-heartedly. Many of their writers are new to me. I will be eternally grateful because they introduced me to the dark noir stories of Pascal Garnier, which I have collected and am currently reading slowly so as to not run out too quickly. Sort of like eating all the chocolates in a box one per day ...more
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Easy to say I loved this book, more difficult to explain quite why. It is certainly unusual. It comes down to the overwhelming sense of futility of trying to control wild things - landscape (and its teeming wildlife) and people. Solid, engaging characters and relationships for sure, but the 5 stars are on account of the quite brilliant setting and atmosphere.

With thanks to Gallic Books/Aardvark and NetGalley for my copy. I'm so glad her work is being published in the UK - I'm impatient to get my
Yeni López
May 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Este libro lo terminé hace unos días y ya siento que extraño a los personajes. Me encantó el estilo descriptivo de la autora pues siempre da una sensación de mayor intimidad entre el lector y Katya, la protagonista. Varios conflictos (modernidad vs origen, posturas raciales, coloniales, la identidad, las relaciones filiales) se hilan en una historia simple: el combate de una plaga en un lujoso complejo arquitectónico. Fue una sorpresa agradable que me ha dejado un excelente sabor de boca.
Hattie Grünewald
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
well, I inhaled that book in just over an hour...
Rachel León
Jul 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2017
(4 stars, rounded up because it's a small press novel)

Henrietta Rose-Innes is a beautiful writer and I was lulled by the lush prose in this novel. It's quiet, but lovely.
David Kenvyn
Aug 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Henrietta Rose-Innes has written a well-crafted and fascinating book about people living in the new South Africa. Katya is a humane pest-controller working in an about-to-be-opened luxury estate, Nineveh, which is threatened by two kinds of infestations. The insects are unpleasant, but it is the humans that are the real problem (and no, they are not squatters).

Obviously, it would be unfair to give away too much of the plot, but it is safe to say that Katya's relationship with her employer, her
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wild-card
For someone that hates bugs as much as I do, this would not be the ideal selection. Curiously, I didn't mind the bugs at all, and there are quite a few of them.

Katya Grubbs (quite a good name for someone in the pest business) is not an exterminator, as she values the lives of the creepers and crawlers she is called to erase from this earth, but a relocator, taking them where they will thrive and live happily ever after, without bothering any humans.
Her father was also in the business, but a trad
Thomas Tyrrell
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Definitely the best book about a South African pest control worker that I'll ever read.

Sometimes it's just nice to loose yourself in someone else's sensibility. I liked being Katya. I liked the way she observes her nephew, her sensitivity to space and sensation, her soft spot for creepy crawlies. I've never read a South African novel before, but the setting was evocative without piling on the kind of cultural detail that plucks me out of the book and sets me reading Wikipedia articles instead.

Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: eco-fiction
Spooky and atmospheric.
Gin Jenny (Reading the End)
I liked this book but I also expected the beetles to be magical or fantastical in some way. In fact they are a Metaphor. As long as you know this going in, you will not suffer from unmet expectations.
Pickle Farmer
Jan 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sexily apocalyptic, impressively plotted, and profoundly creepy-crawly. I was fascinated by the themes of civilization vs. wilderness, and the cracks in walls and floors that we don't peer through, the underground worlds and layers that we don't notice.
Disclaimer: I received an e-copy of this book on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Actually 3.5 Stars

This story is about family and dealing with your past. Katya has a lot of that to do. Growing up her father was a renowned pest-exterminator, but not a good person. Still she decided to follow into his footsteps, but instead of killing the insects she captures and relocated them. She thought she was done with her past, that she had dealt with it (mostly at least), but her childhood days
Kate Vane
Oct 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Katya is a humane pest controller in South Africa. She learnt her craft from her father. They have a difficult relationship and are currently estranged but when she is asked to perform a difficult assignment on a luxury development, Nineveh, she senses his influence at play.

The thread that runs through Nineveh is the search for ‘home’. Katya’s unstable father kept his family constantly on the move and she has struggled to settle. Her sister escaped his influence early and has immersed herself in
Ruth Browne
Oct 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the first Rose-Innes novel I've read. It was strange, beautiful and poignantly frustrating -- no quick fixes for Katya and her rough-spirited father, who haunts her and shapes her in equal parts. The Cape Town setting, particularly the Noordhoek beach and marshy fynbos and the mountains, put me right at home, literally. I love novels set in my home town with the half-guilty fervour of any local. Rose-Innes has an eye for light, shape and colour that gives her writing the texture of real ...more
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
3.5 rounded up

A funny little book, the novel itself isn't very long but the writing is quite dense. The story follows Katya, a pest "relocator" who lives in Cape Town, who gets called to solve the problem of an insect infestation at a new high end apartment complex on the edge of town. This admittedly doesn't sound like the best or most exciting plot for a novel, but I found myself totally immersed in the writing, and the author created a great sense of atmosphere.

This is one of those novels wh
Marina Sofia
Oct 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Impossible not to read some metaphorical use of insects and other pests into this novel, as they threaten to overrun a pristine but sterile gated community just outside Cape Town. The swampland and shanty town is just outside. Beautiful build-up of menace and threat, but enough humour (and a fierce and funny main character) to keep it grounded and not too grim.
Breakaway Reviewers
Dec 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
Anything but Nineveh!

Katya Grubbs learnt at a very early age how to rid gardens of goggas (an Afrikaans word meaning; covering all types of insects and bugs) from her father; Len, who had roamed through South Africa killing everything from cockroaches to rats for houses or gardens infested with the creatures. However, Katya is, with the help of her nephew Toby, is trying a more humane way of ridding gardens of these pests. She captures the king or queen of the bugs and by doing this, manages to
Kate Avery
Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nineveh is very much a character-driven book, there is a plot but the focus is mainly on Katya and the deserted estate Nineveh which is very much a character in itself. It is, in my opinion, a story about nature, not the phenomena of the physical world but traits and qualities. How the characters and the setting relate to each other and the effect of what human nature does to that around it. It is also about acceptance, of learning to live with what you cannot control.

The writing in Nineveh is h
P.D. Dawson
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Katya Grubbs doesn't quite follow in the tradition of her father, for he was in the business of pest extermination, while she prefers the more humane and friendly approach of pest relocation. She deals with anything from “frogs, slugs, baboons, rats, mice, snails, pigeons, ticks, geckos.” Set in Cape Town, Rose-Innes' Nineveh is a mixed bag of sorts, on one hand, an interesting look into the life of a pest controller, on the other, a journey of one girl's quest to figure out the world in which s ...more
Jan 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nature
So I started reading this book in the worst way possible--with very specific expectations. For whatever reason--the title? the cover?--I thought this would be some weird urban eco-fable rich in surreal imagery and biblical undertones, possibly leading to an apocalyptic finale in which the whole of Cape Town is swallowed by swarms of insects. It's a testament to how well Rose-Innes writes that I was never disappointed as, chapter after chapter, I discovered this book definitely is nothing like wh ...more
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This original and at times quite disturbing novel is about Katya Grubbs, who, like her father runs a pest company, but in contrast to him – an unpleasant and uncouth man if I’ve ever met one – Katya relocates the insects and pests that she is called in to deal with rather than exterminate them. One day she is asked to check out a new luxury gated complex just outside Cape Town which remains unfinished and uninhabitable due to periodic invasions of goggas – and yes, they do exist, you can look th ...more
Jasmin Kirkbride
From the outset, Nineveh is characterised by vibrant insectoid imagery: the opening chapter focuses on a tree that has been colonised by caterpillars, for example. In the hands of any other author, such a motif might make your skin crawl, but under Rose-Innes’ deft touch it makes for compulsive, surprisingly beautiful reading. Right up to the last pages, you cannot be sure quite where the fleeting – often surreal – imagery is going to take you...

Eileen Hall
Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel is set in Cape Town, South Africa and contains lots of creepy crawlies, so if you are not on good terms with these creatures, be advised!
Katya Grubbs runs "PPR: Painless Pest Relocations", a pest control company that humanely removes insects and vermin from homes and gardens.
She has just ended a straight forward caterpillar removal job when she comes across a man rather merrily inebriated in the garden.
He takes her card, but is not pleased to find that she is the daughter of someone
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rich prose, a dream-like atmosphere that wouldn't be out of place in a fantasy novel, an intriguing setup, and literary novel-style plotting (which is to say, not much plot, just a sort of meander around the shifting relationships characters have with each other).

Engrossing to begin with, but I couldn't help wishing for a little more narrative drive / plot / action / excitement.
Polly Krize
Nov 23, 2016 rated it liked it
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Katya, owner of a humane pest control company is challenged to clear the new development of Nineveh from invading goggas (insects). There is more to it than that, though, and she is challenged emotionally as well as professionally. Interesting location (South Africa) and a well-driven plot.
May 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Novel set in Cape Town about a pest relocater, her complicated relationship with her father and sister, and a strange job she's given in an empty housing estate. Well-written - I really liked the style and tone.
Sep 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-reads
Interesting read. I think the main theme is how biological spheres overlap, both human and other.
Rebecca Foster
Katya Grubbs runs a Cape Town pest service with a difference: she doesn’t kill the wasps, pigeons and feral cats her customers report; she relocates them. Her humane approach contrasts with her estranged father Len’s old-fashioned extermination business. One day Katya meets Mr Brand, who has a larger project to propose. An infestation has delayed the opening of Nineveh, his high-end residential development; he hires Katya to find out how the beetles are getting in. Insects and the notion of meta ...more
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Henrietta Rose-Innes is a South African writer based in Cape Town. Her novel Nineveh was published by Random House Struik in 2011, following a short-story collection, Homing and two earlier novels: Shark's Egg and The Rock Alphabet.

In 2012, her short story 'Sanctuary' took second place in the BBC International Short Story Competition. Nineveh was shortlisted for the 2012 Sunday Times Fiction Prize
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