Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Red Dog” as Want to Read:
Red Dog
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Red Dog

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  155 ratings  ·  39 reviews

A blistering, brutal novel of the South African frontier from a major new literary voice

Winner of four major South African prizes

At the end of the eighteenth century, a giant strides the Cape Colony frontier. Coenraad de Buys is a legend, a polygamist, a swindler and a big talker; a rebel who fights with Xhosa chieftains against the Boers and British; the fierce pa

Kindle Edition, 432 pages
Published June 6th 2019 by Pushkin Press (first published October 20th 2014)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Red Dog, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  155 ratings  ·  39 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Red Dog
Apr 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Longlisted for the Booker International Prize 2020
I started this book before the Booker International shortlist was announced, and I can understand why it missed out, but I found it rather impressive, if bloodthirsty. The latter is hardly surprising for a book inspired by Blood Meridian. I am not going to write a long detailed review - Paul has done that already and Margitte wrote a very good one on the Afrikaans original.

Anker's protagonist is Coenrad de Buys, a real if larger than life adventu

This book is a fictional rendition of the live of the the outlaw, scoundrel, frontier farmer, Coenraad De Buys. The character was taken from the footnotes of history and brought alive.

The institutionalized history, forbidding an alternative perception or interpretation, excluded characters such as Coenraad De Buys. One of the main reasons was that he was a scroundrel pioneer, who refused to be bordered in by either politics, religion or social rules. Almost seven feet tall, born in 1761, from Fr
Paul Fulcher
Aanskou my: Ek is die legende Coenraad de Buys. Kom, laat ek jou besmet, my erflik belaste leser. As jy hier lees, sien jy wat ek sien.
Behold me: I am the legend Coenraad de Buys.  Come let me contaminate you, my reader of tainted stock.  If you read this, you see what I see.
'Buys: ’n Grensroman' (≈ 'Buys: a Border Novel') by William Anker was originally published in 2014.  The author explains the origin of the novel here:

The translation from Afrikaan
Abbie | ab_reads
(#gifted @thebookerprizes) I’m sorry that my first review since the longlist has been announced for the International Prize can’t be more positive, but I’m also glad I read this one first. Surely they can only get better from here on out?
You might have seen that Anker has been criticised for this novel, described in the English afterword as a ‘homage’ to Cormac McCarthy, while a few reviewers think it’s closer to plagiarism than a homage. Indeed, when I started reading but before I looked up th
Andy Weston
Set at the birth of South Africa in the late 1700s this is the story of Coenraad de Buys; a brigand and survivor, a rapist and a wedded family man with numerous wives and children, a colonist and yet a fugitive, but above all, a revolutionary and a hero. He is a larger than life character, even at seven feet tall, and very much the centre of this epic tale, pushing those interact with him to bit parts - perpetually followed as he rides by packs of wild dogs.
Its part novel, part historical accoun
Michael Clark
Red Dog by Willem Anker (translated from Afrikaans by Michel Heyns) is a merciless, sanguinary novel that vividly captures the cruelty of the colonial project in late 18th and early 19th century South Africa. The novel brims with violence, bloodshed and human ruthlessness, and showcases the toxic masculinity that, in many ways, remains a key feature of South African society.

The novel is a first-person retelling of the life of the infamous colonial frontiersman and renegade, Coenraad de Buys (a f
De Wet
Mar 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Coenraad de Buys, jou rowwe bliksem.

Hierdie was vir my 'n boek van twee helftes.

Die eerste 230 bladsye dek rofweg die eerste 40 jaar van Buys se lewe. Hierdie is dan ook verreweg die beste gedeelte van die boek, 'n lekker skop in die maag met heelwat uiteenlopende gebeure om die aandag en verbeelding vas te vang.

Hier so van bladsy 200 af al verander die pas egter en verval die boek al te dikwels in 'n groef van alledaagse sleur. Buys wat nogmaals huis oppak en elders vestig. Buys wat jag. Buys
May 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Ek gaan jou verblind en verbyster met my gestaltes, met my alvermoënde blik. Ek is ʼn trekvogel, ek neem jou op vlerke. Streel oor my kruis en jy sal weet ek is geen engel nie. Ek ken jou goed. Ek weet jy kan nie wegkyk nie” (10). Buys: 'n Grensroman is 'n dig verweefde teks, uitdagend, indrukwekkend, grensverskuiwend, eenvoudig briljant. ...more
Waldimar Pelser
Jun 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
'n Absolute moet. Engelse lesers, hopelik is daar gou 'n vertaling. ...more
A very unusual book but certainly worth the read.
Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ultimate-books
So this was definitely a literary journey. I am quite sad and surprised that this book did not make it on the Booker International shortlist for 2020. When it comes to translation and the use of language, this extremely complex, detailed, brilliantly phrased translation from Afrikaans to English, with its plethora of authentic historical words and concepts, including a weird passage in full German, is a much more obvious celebration of languages in their diversity than some of the other entries. ...more
Apr 06, 2020 rated it it was ok
DNF’d at 10%.
Maja Tavčar
Apr 18, 2021 rated it liked it
3.5 its not bad, just very challenging to read
Jackie Law
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Coenraad de Buys was the great grandson of French immigrants who farmed in the Cape area of South Africa from the seventeenth century. His grandfather and then father married Cape Dutch women and had numerous children. When his father died of suspected poisoning, the seven year old boy chose to live with his sister, Geertruy, raising livestock he received from his father’s estate on her husband’s farm. By the early 1780s Coenraad had his own farm and had taken a common law wife of slave descent. ...more
Dec 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: boekwurms
Die lees van hierdie boek was oorweldigend en asembenemend. Die verhaal loop ver en wyd op die spore van Coenraad de Buys, uit die laat agtiende, vroeë negentiende eeu. Sy paaie het die grense van die Nederlandse / Britse / Bataafse / Britse kolonie aan die Kaap oorskry, asook die grense tussen rasse (wat destyds polities veel strenger was as seksueel) en die grens van die reg. Groter as lewensgroot; daarom ook die lywigheid van die roman. Buys, in sy hedendaagse gedaante van Alom- Buys, 'n teen ...more
Alex Rogers
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Brutal, hyper-masculine, lyrical, infuriating - a hell of a book, best thing I've read from SA for many years. Superb translation from Afrikaans allows it to flow. Not everyone's cup of rooibos, but it's like a magic mirror into SA's dark settler past, and an unflinching look at men, power and frontier life. Exceptional and deeply unsettling ...more
Trisa Hugo
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Die woestaard, plunderaar, veelwywer, filosoof, hedonis, Coenraad de Buys wat ook saggies met 'n vlieg kon praat en 'n kruiekonkoksie maak om 'n kindjie se gebrande voetjies te versorg, is 'n verskriklike karakter. Ek dink ek is 'n bietjie verlief op hom. ...more
Zeb Kantrowitz
Nov 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ebook, edleweiss-read
Forgetting that this book has been longlisted for the International Booker Prize, I couldn't get through 20% of this novel when I put it down. It reminds me that movies that were complete trash have won the Best Picture at the Academy Awards or the Palme D'or at Canne. That doesn't make it a good novel. Just because he's Afrikaan doesn't make what he writes any better or worse.

Leaving aside that the novel has been accused as plagiarism of Cormac McCarthy, the author admits that it owes a lot to
Nov 20, 2020 rated it did not like it
This is an original and inventive historical novel of the South African frontier with some very fine writing indeed – but I just couldn’t finish it. The historical background is indeed very interesting and the book is a fictionalised biography of Coenraad de Buys, a remarkable and notorious colonial frontiersman. It takes us from his childhood to his death – but I’d bailed long before that. The problem with the novel for me was that it is so repetitious – murder, mayhem war, killing, atrocities, ...more
Apr 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I listened to this on audiobook and it was heavy going. It is set in 18th and 19th century South Africa. Although fictional, this is the story of a man of his time, and what a time of upheaval it was. Brilliantly written, this story is not for the faint of heart, but definitely a great book for lovers of history and historical fiction. I am glad I choose this as an audiobook as I absolutely loved listening to Peter Noble's narration; both he, and Willem Anker's writing put me smack bang in the m ...more
Nov 21, 2020 rated it liked it
I had a really tough time with this book. As an international Booker Prize long-list, and an author from South Africa (I haven't read any books from authors from South Africa before) I was intrigued. The writing was strong, but I found the narrative to be wandering and the main character completely unlikeable (although I think that was the point). This may be one of those books where had I read it at a different point in time in a different mindset, I may have enjoyed it more. But I did not enj ...more
Robert Luke
Really frustrating this book. I loved the storyline, was very interested in the subject, but found myself doing other things rather than reading it? Eventually I realised that I found the style of writing uncomfortable to me. So instead of enjoying the story unfold, I was getting stressed reading it. Sorry, just not my style and so frustrating as I so wanted to enjoy this fascinating part of South African history - crucial you could say.
Christo Bester
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very well researched, insightful and extremely well written book.
Unfortunately I found it at least 1/3 too long! Halfway though I started getting restless.
Nevertheless, it shed light on the real people at the frontiers Of the Cape in the late 1700’s, which ignited the spark in me to read more about this period. I will follow up on your suggestions, Margit!
Russ Mccall
Jun 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Started off thinking I was going to love this book. The character of de Buys is horrible but fascinating. The book really gripped me at first but this grip weakened as I ploughed through it. In the end I had to force myself to finish it. It goes on a bit!
Dec 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Red Dog definitely qualifies as a tour de force. The writing is rich and propulsive, it left me gasping for breath. As a lesson in the evils of colonialism it is unparalleled. Not an easy read, but a rewarding one.
Jennifer M.
Ok, I tried to like this one, I did. And about 3/4s of the way through, I had pushed as far as I could. The premise was interesting. The main character was compelling and I really liked him. But I finally had to DNF. It just wasn't the book for me. ...more
Thieving Magpie
I loathe the lack of quotation marks in books...
Francois Lion-Cachet
Fantasties geskryf maar heeltemal te lank.
Willem Myburgh
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
n Donker roman vol angs, avontuur, wreedheid en liefde. Buys is alom en Anker het weereens my betower met sy taal gebruik.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Mookse and th...: 2020 International Booker Longlist: Red Dog 23 72 Mar 31, 2020 12:05AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Enlightenment of the Greengage Tree
  • Faces on the Tip of My Tongue
  • The Adventures of China Iron
  • The Other Name: Septology I-II
  • Mac and His Problem
  • Tyll
  • Love and Other Thought Experiments
  • The Discomfort of Evening
  • Hurricane Season
  • This Mournable Body
  • Minor Detail
  • Little Eyes
  • The Shadow King
  • The New Wilderness
  • The Firm
  • The Deserter (Scott Brodie & Maggie Taylor #1)
  • Darling Rose Gold
  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
See similar books…
Willem Anker was born in Citrusdal on February 3, 1979. He matriculated at Hugenote High School in Wellington in 1996. He has worked as barman, weaver, security guard and at a moving company for two days. At present he lectures in creative writing at the University of Stellenbosch. He obtained his D.Litt at the same university in 2007.

In 2004 he wrote the script for the physical theatre piece Skr

Related Articles

Why not focus on some serious family drama? Not yours, of course, but a fictional family whose story you can follow through the generations of...
200 likes · 77 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“n Owerheid verstaan kaarte, nie grond nie.” 0 likes
“Dalk voel jy veiliger in die agterkamers van museums? Ek is die vismot se voeler in elke argief. Ek het toegang tot elke bladsy. Ek vreet soos ek lees.” 0 likes
More quotes…