The last time I got word that Stephen King liked one of my books, I was on tour in Australia. I was jetlagged, exhausted from weeks of touring, alone in a foreign country with all my loved ones in a different timezone and his tweet about The Shining Girls felt surreal. It was so mind-blowing, that Stephen Bloody King liked something I wrote? Inconceivable.

I’m in a better space to process it this time round. Partly that’s because of the pandemic, because in a normal world, the one we left behind, I’d be touring Afterland in the USA right now. Instead, I’m home in Cape Town with my friends and loved ones around and my extremely droll and sarccy 11-year-old to keep me grounded.

I got the news in the middle of a very competitive Twitch quiz night with my housemate’s family and I was official answer scribe, so I had to read it in snatched moments between the questions.

So: a New York Times full-page review of Afterland, written by Stephen King? I cried. In the middle of the quiz.

It means a lot. It means more that I was able to share it with the people I cared about, in the moment.

King writes:

“Lauren Beukes’s fifth novel is a smartly written thriller that opens with a satisfying bang… Splendid… Think of a world where Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have gone to their reward, but Rush Bader Ginsburg keeps on trucking. That doesn’t sound so bad, eh?”