A Gentile’s Guide to Judaism

On 27 June, Wordsworth, Sea Point hosted author Barry Varkel for the launch of his latest novel, Goy Vey — A Gentile’s Guide to Judaism

Braving the winter chill, fans turned out in their numbers to the much-anticipated launch event.
For the uninitiated, in 2016 Barry, a respected lawyer, writer, comedian and short-film maker, published Nigiri Law — a surreal mini-thriller that was politically incorrect from start to finish. 

Barry conjured up a cast of characters whose bizarre behaviour kept readers in stitches — and it then went on to become a sort of masterpiece of humour in the extreme.

In 2019 Barry, again wearing his writer’s hat, returned to the literary world with his latest fiction novel, Goy Vey — A Gentile’s Guide to Judaism

The dark comedic page-turner has taken the Number One spot since the launch event.
“We have so many good South African stories to tell, everyday stories about people and their lives outside of the misery and pain of endless political scandals and depressing news,” 

Barry says. “Yet South Africans seems to embrace political scandals and depressing news. I cannot understand why? It’s like an emotional rubbernecking of sorts”.
“So, with this in mind, I wrote Goy Vey – a Cape Town story about the lives of two families: a Jewish family and a non-Jewish family, a so-called ‘Gentile’ family,” he shares.

Goy Vey is a book for everyone – it is a Cape Town story, a South African story. “We should open up to each other, and not be afraid, we should embrace each other and learn about each other’s idiosyncrasies and eccentricities, and not be frightened to share. Through sharing, we learn understanding and enjoyment.”
“This is what Goy Vey is all about,” Barry concludes. “It’s urgent work here in our weird and strange country, which is still divided after so much time. 

It’s about cohesion, about life in a multicultural society, where I can go to different parts of the city and experience different things, meet different people and have fun and laugh.”

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To read the editor’s column for this issue, click here

To read the most read story of last month, click here


  1. ‘Goy Vey’ – Felt I had to drop a line to say how much I enjoyed reading this book. Grew up in Northern Rhodesia and only now realise how many ‘words’ appearing in this book were used by us ‘Gentiles’ as though they were ‘ours’! So refreshing to be able to laugh at ourselves. I’m sure we can all relate to the book’s characters and even put ‘faces’ to them. Thank you Barry Varkel for the laugh and hopefully you can be persuaded to pen a sequel.

  2. Goy vey. What a book.
    This book I found difficult to put down. It is extremely funny and yet has a very strong social conscience running through it.
    I felt I know some of the characters they were so real and came to life on the pages.
    Of course the finale is the Shabat supper at the hero’s house. (Hymie is my hero in the book).
    This book explains so well the traditions of the Jewish people in Cape Town. It does it in a self effacing but informative way. I found myself admiring these traditions more as I read on.
    Barry this book should become at the least a play or a short series in TV
    A five star read.


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