Launched 9 November 2022

About Catastrophe

Exiled ballerina Lena Sergeyevna lies in hospital in New York, dying of cancer. Desperate to reconcile with her estranged daughter, she begins to reveal the truth about her flight from the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster where her husband Yuri, a nuclear physicist, disappeared while performing top-secret research. We discover that Lena’s former life involved deep compromises for which she has paid a heavy price in shame and self-loathing. What happened to Yuri, was he somehow involved in the ‘accident’, and what made Lena leave the USSR and take up exotic dancing in the US? Set in a geopolitical hotspot, Ukraine, this intelligent memoir–thriller explores the struggle for self-expression, the triumph of truth over deception, and the impact on the human psyche of personal and global catastrophe.

‘Catastrophe is that rare feat – a wholly immersive and convincing historical novel, an acute character study and a heart-stopping and thoroughly gripping literary thriller – that is lyrical and beautifully written. Ian answered challenging questions about genre, process, trauma, creating authentic characters, being truthful in fiction, space and place, the role of fiction and the responsibilities of the novelist with insight and aplomb…I wholeheartedly recommend reading Ian Sutherland. You won’t regret it.’

Jonathan Amid, Editor, Literary Reviewer & Journalist.


‘I loved reading Catastrophe and was sorry when Lena’s story ended. I also loved the graphic detail and could see everything as I read the text. The ‘voice’ of Lena was so utterly compelling, moving and convincing.’ 

Heather Parker Lewis, Author


I am REALLY enjoying it. Enough historical novel feel to satisfy my love of history, and the style! It’s great, it works works so well! I read Anna Karenina many years ago, but from what I remember, there is a bit of a Tolstoy periodic feel in this, which is super elegant and enjoyable. Finding I am reading it for the prose as much as the story”

Jaco Wolmarans, Novelist


“Beautifully written, the lyrical voice of Lena is mesmeric as she tells the story, to her estranged daughter, of her husband’s disappearance after an accident at the Pripyat nuclear power plant. Packed with intriguing twists and full of heart, this is a page-turner,” 

Joanne Hichens, Writer and Editor


A tour de force! I can’t imagine how much research went into this. Fascinating read. 

Sally Hutton, Lawyer and Managing Partner


Read it cover-to-cover and couldn’t put it down! I also enjoyed all the fascinating research. An excellent read! 

Lynn Ascham, Manager Art Studio Sales


Really enjoyed it. Fantastic, all the way to the end. And what an end! 

Peter Watt, Minister


An amazing read. So beautifully and cleverly written. Gripping

Lisa Antrobus-Kerr, Hotelier


“I thoroughly enjoyed Catastrophe! What a lovely romantic thriller, and the suspense kept me turning the pages. A great read!!!” 

Alison Ferguson, CA


Compelling… I often could not stop reading when I meant to because I was genuinely driven to go on…. I loved the thumbnail descriptions of land and cityscape…. The way people interacted with each other verbally, especially amongst the characters in the USSR, is natural and authentic. 

Sara Pienaar

Launched 9 November 2022

About Subversion

(Previously Featherstream)

February 1942. With the Nazis triumphant in Europe, North Africa and much of the USSR, control of the shipping lanes off the southernmost tip of Africa is an Allied imperative. At the urging of Prime Minister Jan Smuts, South Africa’s parliament has narrowly voted to join the British war effort, but the country remains bitterly divided. Feisty university student Anna van der Vliet returns to her family farm near Cape Agulhas during the holidays. Noticing strange comings and goings in the area, she begins to suspect that her father, a prominent Member of Parliament, may be involved in a clandestine operation to aid the enemy.

As a patriot, Anna feels compelled to inform the authorities, but what if this means betraying her family and lover? Drawing on extensive historical research, Featherstream is a unique tapestry of suspense, wartime intrigue and romance.


A tale charged with intrigue, tension and wrenching emotion….an absorbing and entertaining read.
Tony Grogan,
Artist, Cartoonist & Author


A very accomplished novel.
Markus Hoffmann,
RHA Literary Agency


First time author Ian Sutherland gets under your skin in this historical novel set in the breath-taking Cape Agulhas area in a pre-Nationalist South Africa. It’s a compelling read, with a wonderful sense of place and a cracking pace.
Love Books


Sensitively written prose gently evoking the mood of the local landscape.
Sally Ann Watkins


This is an intriguing, well-researched historical novel that sheds some light on life in South Africa during the war years. This book could appeal to fans of Barbara Mutch’s The Girl from Simon’s Bay.

See Full Review here


“Featherstream is a successful first novel. It is written with great care and attention to detail, and has an unusual and credible plot. It is a compelling and readable thriller which convincingly brings to life the Cape of 80 years ago.”
Dr Sara Pienaar,

Full review


An intriguing tale…Sutherland’s novel has all the ingredients for a good read.
Brian Joss,
The Gremlin

Full review


Headline feature in Agulhas community newspaper 2Oceanenuus.



A sense of place and time, both credible and compelling.
Robin Stuart-Clark,
Print Matters


An impressive read! Well researched and riveting.

Michael Bampfield-Duggan,
Wine Concepts


The novel is fantastic and had me hooked to the end!
Alison Gwynne-Evans,
English Alive


Great story – intriguing, gripping, impossible to put down. Kept me up past midnight!
Michael Fleming

Ian Sutherlaand_The Writer_Study-bw-edited

About Ian

One of the many things that makes Ian unique as a novelist is the way he successfully straddles the academic, business, and literary worlds, thereby appealing to a broad audience. The first expression of him as an author was to pen ‘cops and robbers’ stories, aged five. As a youngster, he was a fanatical reader, devouring fiction of all kinds. He started writing in earnest to immortalize the stories with which he’d verbally enthralled his own children―including a nightly serial known as The Never-ending Story. This gained traction with the completion of a memoir.

Ian’s passion for writing intensified and, in 2016, he completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Cape Town―resulting in his debut novel, Subversion (previously Featherstream) under the supervision of acclaimed South African novelist Professor Etienne van Heerden. Following publication in September 2018, Ian featured in a series of filled-to capacity book launches and interviews in leading media outlets and literary festivals. Subversion, a page-turning WWII historical drama, was carried by leading bookstores throughout South Africa, reaching #2 on Exclusive Books’ bestseller list. It was also awarded Best Novel at the 2019 National Independent Publishers Awards.


After several years of research and writing, Ian’s second novel Catastrophe, a historical thriller-memoir set in the immediate aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine, USSR, is was launched on 9 November (at Exclusive Books Cavendish Square). His interest in the subject was sparked when the disaster was treated as a real-time case study in his first year of Mechanical Engineering studies. In 2016, Engineering News commissioned Ian to write an article reflecting on the 30th anniversary of Chernobyl.

Ian is also an accomplished short story writer, having been shortlisted for the 2018 Short Sharp Stories Award and placing second and fourth in the annual SA Writer’s College short story competition. Tales from his growing anthology, have appeared in publications such as The Anthology of South African Short Stories, Short Sharp Stories – Instant Exposure, and the New Richmond Reader.

Intensive, immersive research comprises a huge part of Ian’s writing life. For Katastrófa, he visited Ukraine on multiple occasions and has been learning Russian to get under the skin of his characters. His personal experience in the world of international high finance previously led him to write the as yet unpublished Not a Moment to Lose, a white-collar crime thriller which unfolds from New York City, through the United Kingdom to post-Soviet Bulgaria.

Which leads to Ian’s business background. Originally qualifying as a Mechanical and Industrial Engineer at the Universities of Cape Town and Witwatersrand respectively, he worked in the manufacturing industry, becoming a Professional Engineer. Ian’s adventurous spirit and aptitude for business led him to New York City to earn an MBA at Columbia University (Phi Beta Gamma). After graduation he consulted to Fortune 500 companies across the United States, and later joined a boutique Wall Street investment bank, for which he later started an Australian division. So, having studied, lived, and worked in New York and Sydney, he is comfortable on the international stage.

Throughout his journey from business to literature, Ian’s passion for History has been a constant, both as a field of study (to undergraduate level via correspondence) and a lens through which to travel. He also loves other languages―and is fluent in Afrikaans, conversant in German, progressing in Russian and working on his smatterings of French, Italian and isiXhosa. With his diverse interests and quirky sense of humour, Ian is growing a large and engaged social media following on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn (350).

When not writing, Ian enjoys surfing, hiking, going on safari and reading a great deal. He is currently based in Cape Town, South Africa.

His Research

Research_Crumbling Tuscan Villa-min
Research_Yorkshire Thornton le Dale_Meadow-min
Research_Rila Monestary_Bulgaria

Featherstream is available in leading bookstores throughout South Africa and Namibia, including:

South African and Nambian Distributor:

Protea Distribution

Tel: (021) 699 8506

Love Books

53 Rustenburg Rd, Melville, Johannesburg


Wordsworth Books

Shop 41, Longbeach Mall, Corner of Buller Louw Drive &. Sunnydale Road, Noordhoek



Exclusive Books Constantia

5 Spaanschemat River Rd, Deurdrif, Cape Town, 7806

Also available at : Cavendish, Constantia, V&A, Canal Walk, Stellenbosch, Somerset Mall, Cape Town International Airport, Sandton, Morningside, Rosebank (Johannesburg), Bedford Centre, Brooklyn (Pretoria), etc.


Exclusive Books Cavendish

0A Vineyard Rd, Claremont, Cape Town, 7708


Clarke’s Books

199 Long Street, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa

Buy Here

The Book Lounge

71 Roeland Street, Cnr Buitenkant & Roeland Street, Cape Town, 8001


Bargain Books

Shop G43A Howard Centre, Forest Dr, Pinelands, Cape Town, 7405

Also available at: Bayside Mall, Paddocks, Table Bay Mall, Canal Walk, Pinelands, Bethlehem, etc.


Wordworth Books

395 Main Road, Sea Point, Cape Town 8005, South Africa

Also available at: Long Beach Mall, Seapoint, Canal Walk, Willowbridge, Stellenbosch, Somerset Mall, etc.


Arniston Hotel

1 Main Rd, Arniston, 7280


Fiction and Fantasy

23 Lang Street, Bredasdorp

+27(0) 28 425 3236

Van Schaik

Find a store close to you.

Also available at:Stellenbosch, Rondebosch, Bloemfontein, Potchefstroom, Grahamstown


Protea Boekwinkel

1067 Burnett Street, ‘Between Hilda and Festival Street’, Hatfield, 0083


Swakopmunder Buchhandlung

Swakopmunder Buchhandlung, Swakopmund