Slaves to Fortune


Men on the run in a world gone mad

Two Belgian exiles, both called Tony Hanssen, are on the run from their former lives on different continents. In Buenos Aires one of the Tony Hanssens, a former cruise director, is playing a dangerous game as a boy toy to the elderly wife of a wealthy Chinese businessman. In South Africa a totally different Tony Hanssen, a computer specialist running from a crashed merchant bank, breaks into a game reserve with a precision rifle and war ammunition. Amid the chaos of global capitalism, lawlessness, and disintegrating lives, a chance meeting between the two Hanssens gives each the opportunity to redeem himself by betraying the other. This societal satire with a classic doppelganger motif tackles current topics such as the global financial crisis with scathing humor.

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Publication date

September 3, 2019




Tom Lanoye

Tom Lanoye is an award-winning, highly acclaimed Belgian novelist, poet, and playwright. Starting out as a poet and critic… Read more


Book Club Questions

  1. How does ‘rhino-hunting’ Tony see ‘gambling’ Tony?
  2. What motivates gambling Tony to make the choice he does at the end of the book?
  3. Why is Mr. Bo Xiang so emotionally open to gambling Tony?
  4. Do the two Tonys ever become friends?
  5. Is either of the Tonys “one of the good guys”?
  6. Does Khumalo’s visit change how gambling Tony’s sees himself?
  7. Does gambling Tony choose to be unhappy?
  8. Why is gambling Tony with Mrs. Bo Xiang? And why does he feel betrayed at the thought that she is using him as an alibi?
  9. Can you explain the title?
  10. The two protagonists share their name and have similar appearances. Is there a deeper significance to those similarities, apart from Khumalo’s mistaken visit?
  11. Do you agree with Khumalo’s hypothesis on “the Wheel of Suffering”? How does it apply to the book?


“In an allegory of the global economic crisis and the struggling identity of modern man, each Hanssen holds the solution to the other’s problems—but will they help each other?” Big Issue North

“A theatrical representation of capitalism spun out of control, with memorable dialogues and a grotesque, high-speed plot with deep-rooted barbs. The ultimate literary equivalent of Quentin Tarantino” —Cutting Edge

“An intoxicating novel: relevant, encompassing the entire globe, satirical, and fast-paced. Slaves to Fortune demonstrates with dizzying speed that we Westerners are depressingly interchangeable. Lanoye sparkles on every page.” —De Volkskrant

“A fiercely intelligent book with international potential” —De Standaard

“A delicious novel disguised as a thriller, a book to love” —NRC Handelsblad