Novel details complex reality of sex work

Christia Visser, who won best actress for feature film, stars in 'Tess'
Christia Visser, who won best actress for feature film, stars in ‘Tess’

Cape author Tracey Farren’s novel Tess – previously titled Whiplash – has been published as a movie tie-in edition to coincide with its recent big screen release in South Africa.

The film Tess stars Christia Visser, who won the award for best actress in a feature film at the Durban International film Festival and the Silwerskermfees 2016 for her role in the gritty drama.

Psychology honours graduate Farren worked as a freelance journalist for several years before her muse called her to fiction.

She wrote Tess – her first novel – in 2007 and her second, Snake, was also published to critical acclaim in 2011. She has adapted Snake for the screen and it will be developed into a film in the near future.

Farren is close to completing her third novel, The Rig, a speculative psychological thriller set in the middle of the sea.

Tess is described as the gut-wrenching story of a Muizenberg sex worker, Tess, who pops painkillers by the handful and sells her body to strangers.

When a condom breaks, Tess’s life changes direction.

She gives up her drugs until she can get to an abortion clinic and her cold turkey opens up a window in her mind, whipping Tess into a shattering understanding of how she got there.

Tess’s quirky humour, raw honesty and deep love of beauty lead her to find redemption in astonishing places.

Readers have said the book has a huge heart, like Tess, revealing that there is something in everyone that cannot be touched.

Whiplash was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Prize in 2009 and won a White Ribbon Award from Women Demand Dignity in 2008.

  • Tess is published by Modjaji Books and retails for around R250.

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