8 Questions with Lauren Beukes

Lauren Beukes is the author of Afterland. https://laurenbeukes.com/

Photo credit: Nazreen Essack


Which talent would you most like to have?

I wish I could draw. I can doodle and sketch, but I’d love to be able to get the images out of my head exactly as I see them in my head and onto the page. I can do it with words, but my artistic talent is sadly lacking.


What is your most treasured possession?

I had a chance to think about what I’d save from the flames during the wildfires in Cape Town last year. I have original art (mostly by friends) that I really love, but if it was only one item, it’s my mom’s copy of Myths And Legends of Southern Africa, a book I grew up with that is now out of print and very difficult to find, and occupied a lot of my imagination as a kid (and some of my nightmares).


What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Long conversations with friends. I love experiencing other minds so intimately.


What is your motto?

Be cheeky and ask for what you want, the worst anyone will say is no. But don’t be an asshat doing so.


How would you like to die?

I was in Antarctica last year as a tourist and I conceived my perfect death - falling overboard and being eaten by the newly discovered species of killer whale under the Aurora Australis. Alas, it turned out it wasn’t a new species, but rather the first time it had been genotyped, and we didn’t go far south enough to experience the southern lights.


If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what would it be?

I’m going to call back to question five and elect to return as a killer whale.


What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Tolerance. We have to be intolerant of intolerance. We have to actively fight racism and homophobia and misogyny and classism and transphobia and fascism. There are ideas that are harmful, that are dehumanizing, that get people killed, that we cannot tolerate for a second. I’m firmly in the punching Nazis camp and yelling at people who won’t wear masks.


What is your current state of mind?

Weary of the pandemic and all its cost us, our friends, our humanity, that essential human contact. And fearful for the future, the economic impact, and the environmental devastation, how our inability to work together on this doesn’t speak well to being able to stop climate change. My heart is sore.