Ja, No, Man is an eerily familiar portrayal of the life of an ordinary white South African growing up during Apartheid-era South Africa. Told with extraordinary humour and self-awareness, Poplak’s story brings his gradual understanding of the difference between his country and the rest of the world vividly to life. A startlingly original memoir that veers sharply from the quotidian to the bizarre and back again, Ja, No, Man is an enlightening, darkly hilarious, and, at times, disturbing read.
- I would read Poplak if he wrote about watching paint dry. Dark, funny, self-deprecating and poetic, Poplak is a punk Graham Greene.
- A heroic feat of research, analysis, and on-the-ground reportage . . . At the very least, The Sheikh’s Batmobile should shatter the Western stereotype of the Muslim world as repressive and stagnant.
- In the riotous, fearless, and very funny tradition of Hunter S. Thompson and Jon Ronson, Richard Poplak takes us through the looking glass and into an upside down, funhouse mirror pop culture universe where Homer Simpson drinks juice out of a beer can, batmobiles are custom-designed in a desert lair and Islamic children spontaneously recreate the video for Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello.’ In the process, Poplak gives us a mantra that unites the West and the East, the secular and the sacred: ‘Fuck you, Shrek, you big green motherfucker.'
- It may seem unbelievable, not to say wrong, that a comic memoir can emerge from South Africa’s white-power days. But after a reading of Richard Poplak’s breezy and brilliant Ja, No, Man, you’re more inclined to ask: what better place? No yes man could be this funny, or this wise.
- A clever young Canadian-South African, Richard Poplak, has written one of the finest, funniest and most tragic memoirs I have read in years, called Ja, No, Man: Growing Up White in Apartheid-Era South Africa. It is a gem, all the pleasure and pain and ruthless observation concealed inside the gleaming jewel of the book.
- Poplak stitches together the insults and indignities - mundane, suburban, absurd, tragic - of apartheid in its horrible death throes with such skill, such honesty and above all, such drop-everything-and- laugh-out-loud humour that I found myself having to re-read whole passages just to see what they sounded like without my shrieks of laughter thrown in. Ja, No, Man is an absolute must-read for anyone who wants to know what it was like to be there and anyone who hopes we never go there there again - in other words, a must-read for everyone.
- Poplak’s expertly-researched and beautifully-written The Sheikh's Batmobile is one of the most important documents of the post-9/11 world.
- Whether dissecting Indonesian punk bands or the eternal wisdom of Magnum, P.I., Poplak is everything you want in a cultural interpreter—funny, frank and utterly incapable of spewing mass market pabulum. Poplak gets beyond the cheap, superficial observations lesser writers bring to his subject, revealing himself as a genuine thinker who delivers original insight and laughs in every chapter.