“NINEVEH is one of the coolest novels I’ve read in years. I don’t know how else to say it.”

Electric Literature


Henrietta Rose-Innes

Katya Grubbs is Cape Town’s only ethical pest removal specialist.

She expertly wrangles every manner of wild critter, creature or beast with the help of her unwitting nephew, Toby. When she is hired to remove the exotic beetles that have overrun Nineveh, a new luxury housing development on the coast, Katya finds that bugs aren’t the only unwelcome creatures hiding in the new (but inhabited) apartments. As she investigates further, it becomes clear that Nineveh is fast becoming an environmental, not to mention architectural, blunder.

With marshlands encroaching on its borders, and the nearby seaside more menace than attraction, Katya becomes immersed in the world of Nineveh’s few residents—the mysterious caretakers and scavenger crews that survive in its shadow. It is only when her estranged father—a professional exterminator fallen on hard times—reappears in her life, that Nineveh’s deeper secrets are exposed.

Praise for Nineveh

"Henrietta Rose-Innes writes an admirably taut, clean prose … a welcome addition to the new South African literature."
J.M. Coetzee, author of DISGRACE

"A gripping, thrilling allegory of a troubled nation, Nineveh is executed with wit, panache, precision and something that I can only call wounded love for the country the author calls her home."
Neel Mukherjee, author of THE LIVES OF OTHERS

"Rose-Innes is a pleasure to read – inventive, intelligent and entertaining. In Nineveh, she has created a densely layered, totally absorbing tragicomedy for our anxious time and place."
Ivan Vladislavić, author of 101 DETECTIVES

"South African writer Rose-Innes creates a thoughtful, textured narrative... Surreal in style and atmosphere, yet grounded in the reality of place and the ever-present threat of insects, this is a quiet but deep look at the ecosystems we create for ourselves as well as those we can't escape."
Publishers Weekly,

"White South African writer Rose-Innes makes her American debut with a nimble, intriguing novel about a second-generation Cape Town exterminator—er, ethical pest-removal specialist... A persuasive, witty exploration of a tough and unconventional young woman—and a consistently lively account of the entanglements of cultural politics, class, and architecture in contemporary South Africa."
Kirkus Reviews,

"From an award-winning South African novelist making her U.S. debut, this is both a soberingly telescoped look at postapartheid South Africa and a brisk, enjoyable read even if you are squeamish. "
Library Journal,

"NINEVEH may be immersed in biblical and historic imagery, but in whole it is a remarkable inquiry into humanity’s ongoing relationship with nature. Innes provides every detail of both human and natural architecture with impeccable precision. This attention to the physical world informs NINEVEH’s well-mapped structure and propels forward a refreshing narrative, rife with irascible insects and immovable greenery."
Aram Mrjoian, Chicago Review of Books

"Rose-Innes’s descriptions of Nineveh and of the looming presence of infesting insects squirming just beneath the surface are nonetheless both beautifully written and resolutely Ballardian in tone."
Geoff Manaugh, author of A BURGLAR'S GUIDE TO THE CITY