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The Big Stick

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  34 ratings  ·  10 reviews
Alma Nel leaves her home on the edge of the Kalahari to retrieve the body of her gay son in Amsterdam. Driven by guilt and grief, she resolves to reconstruct Staal’s life and the events leading up to his death, undertaking a bizarre quest in a strange and surreal world.

Guided by a coke-dealing Rastafarian, Alma opens a psychedelic can of worms, meeting many of Staal’s frie
Paperback, 173 pages
Published November 1st 2011 by Jacana Media (first published August 2010)
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 ·  34 ratings  ·  10 reviews

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Nerine Dorman
Jul 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Where do I even begin? This is also going onto my list of top reads for 2013. Very complex thoughts surrounding this novel, which is pertinent whether you are gay or straight.

FULL REVIEW (appeared in September 2013 issue of The Pink Tongue)

It’s not often that a novel lands on my desk that I feel everyone should make an effort to read, but The Big Stick is definitely one of them. Richard de Nooy draws us into Amsterdam of the early 1980s, before the Aids epidemic cast its pall over the various co
Nicolas Chinardet
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable read with some strong, interesting characters. Although the author is straight he gives a credible insight the gay subculture.

Not being familiar with either South Africa or Amsterdam I felt I missed out on the finer elements of the culture clash depicted in the book which obviously constitutes a major part of it but that didn't distract from the overall enjoyment.

An incredibly broad and colourful canvas for such a short book.
Eddie Clarke
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book - the second I've read in 6 months to look at the SADF's forced 'treatment' of gay conscripts, set around the time I was a conscript in Pretoria. Although De Nooy sensibly keeps this to a brief episode tangentially explored : a ploy which seems to add to its horrific power.

De Nooy's style is energetic and vivacious, and he tells his story via a number of 1st person accounts, so gradually a full picture of Staal and his tragedy emerges. Nevertheless, there are many lighter mom
Ojon Van Strijland
het waren andere tijden...
Sep 05, 2010 added it  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dutch
Klik hier voor een volledig overzicht van alle recensies.

Ezra de Haan, "[...] Richard de Nooy laat met deze roman zien dat er een keerzijde aan de liefde is, dat die mensen blind maakt en foute beslissingen veroorzaakt. Maar dat is slechts het verhaal van deze schitterende roman, het tweede deel van een nog te voltooien drieluik. Belangrijker is het spel met de taal van de auteur die werkelijk ieder personage in dit boek een eigen stem geeft. Zacht als taal verdient door een
Jayne Bauling
May 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
What a brilliant book, one of my best reads so far this year.

Funny and tragic, this is the story of Staal who grew up in Zeerust in South Africa in the 1980s. Being gay in such an environment, he suffered misunderstanding and various abuses, inluding a dose of the SADF's notorious aversion therapy, before being exiled to Holland. Set in Amsterdam around 1986, the book brings the gay scene there to vivid life. Staal's almost immediate sense of having found his pack is deeply touching.

Staal himse
Dec 22, 2011 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
My latest novel is finally available in English in South Africa

You can read an excerpt here.

Readers outside South Africa can order it here (or by sending an email to

I'll be posting the latest reviews here.

Wishing you pleasant reading!

Kerry Gordon
Jul 08, 2012 rated it really liked it

I loved the collision of cultures and lifestyles as the story weaves through Amsterdam.
Feb 24, 2012 added it
What one would expect from Richard: comic wit cloaked in deep tragedy. Or Quentin Tarantino without the guns.
Amanda Strydom
Mar 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written. A perfect mix of comic wit and heart-aching tragedy.
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Richard de Nooy (1965) grew up in Johannesburg, but has lived in Amsterdam for the past 30 years. He writes his novels in English and Dutch.

His latest novel, Van kleine helden, was published in Dutch in the Netherlands in May 2017. He is currently working on the English edition.

De Nooy's first novel, Six Fang Marks and a Tetanus Shot (Jacana, 2007), won the University of Johannesburg Prize for Bes

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