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News > OD Publications > Author, Vernon Head (1984O) book discussion

Author, Vernon Head (1984O) book discussion

A wonderful evening of getting to know the author and what inspires his work.

On Wednesday 28 June 2023, the ODU hosted a book discussion at The Mitre with OD Vernon Head (1984O). Vernon recently had his latest novel "On that wave of gulls" published.  

The book is set in Cape Town, where three characters interact around the sea, the land and the city. It is a very perceptive account of the city and its socio-economic make-up.  This is Vernon's third major novel; after "The Search for the Rarest Bird in the World" and "A Tree for the Birds".

The ODU Ambassador, Paul Murray, was in discussion with Vernon about his book. Approximately 40 ODs and their wives as well as former staff attended.  The plot of the book is really about the various ways the sea might touch us, told from three points of view, with the narratives set up in a circadian rhythm of back and forth, such as with the push and pull of the moon. Vernon's interest in Nature comes from when he was at school at Bishops.

Below is an overview from the African Literary Agency

The book is set up in a rhythm, much like the tide. The world, and the coast and indeed Cape Town, seen from three points of view: through the eyes of a seagull named Calypso, who needs to lay an egg to pass on some sort of legacy that is her identity and in many ways her past; through the eyes of Pooi, a homeless man who thinks he is the moon, and who needs to teach himself to swim in the sea; through the eyes of Hieronymus, a fat and greasy, once successful white architect, married to a beautiful, black British woman. 

On That Wave of Gulls is an overwhelming, poetic and philosophical investigation into the abuse of a boy, a search for commonality at the edge of love and sexuality, and the resultant relationships that live in between men and women.

Combining Faulknerian style with his notable lyrical prose style, Head guides us across the Cape coast from three, entirely new, perspectives. His engagement with the natural world makes his writing extremely powerful for the current day, and his innovative combination of viewpoints demonstrates an awareness of the interconnected threads of life. Throughout his career he has been compared to Faulkner and Nabokov for his masterful use of language and observational plot-lines – guided no doubt by his ability to sit for hours in silence, waiting for the birds to arrive. As his most recent novel, On That Wave of Gulls brings together all this, and more.

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