The Madonna of Excelsior: A Novel

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9780374200084: The Madonna of Excelsior: A Novel

A new novel by a towering presence in contemporary South African literature

In 1971, nineteen citizens of Excelsior in South Africa's white-ruled Free State were charged with breaking apartheid's Immorality Act, which forbade sex between blacks and whites. Taking this case as raw material for his alchemic imagination, Zakes Mda tells the story of a family at the heart of the scandal -and of a country in which apartheid concealed interracial
liaisons of every kind.

Niki, the fallen madonna, transgresses boundaries for the sake of love; her choices have repercussions in the lives of her black son and mixed-race daughter, who come of age in post-apartheid South Africa, where freedom prompts them to reexamine their country's troubled history at first hand.

By turns earthy, witty, and tragic, The Madonna of Excelsior is a brilliant depiction of life in South Africa and of the dramatic changes between the 1970s and the present.

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From the Back Cover:

"A generous, patient, wry and intelligent voice...[that] suggests not just a writer who can seduce us through beautiful language and unfailing humor. We also encounter a writer who has the power to shock and frighten us, to astound and anger and unsettle us...In short, his is a voice for which one should feel not only affection but admiration." --Neil Gordon, New York Times Book Review

Selection, Summer Reading, New York Times Book Review

In 1971, nineteen citizens of Excelsior in South Africa's white-ruled Free State were charged with breaking apartheid's Immorality Act, which forbade sex between blacks and whites. Taking this case as raw material for his alchemic imagination, Zakes Mda tells the story of one irrepressible fallen madonna, Niki, and her family, at the heart of the scandal.

"A marvelous work, rich with 'beautiful madness.'"--Los Angeles Times Book Review

"The Madonna of Excelsior has the captivating symmetry of an altarpiece."--Peter Campion, San Francisco Chronicle

"Graceful...Sharp and unsparing...Mda refuses to undermine his nation's problems with cheap melodrama. Yet his gift, in addition to being an extraordinary writer, is to infuse the past with meaning, to make urgent the challenges of the present, and to reveal the gentle, often stinging, human comedy in both."--Boston Globe

"The extraordinary social and political transformation of South Africa as it affects the residents of the village of Excelsior...Zakes Mda, a canny writer, knows that sometimes the best way to approach history is to view it through the lives of people at its periphery...[Mda is] a subtle and evocative writer who can range from lyricism to satire with surprising effect, and never descends to the formulaic."--Charles Matthews, The Tallahassee Democrat

Zakes Mda has received every major South African prize for his work. Born in 1948, he has been a visiting professor at Yale and the University of Vermont. He is now a dramaturg at the Market Theatre, Johannesburg, and a Professor in the Creative Writing Department at Ohio University.

About the Author:

Zakes Mda, a novelist and playwright, has received every major South African prize for his work. Born in 1948, he has been a visiting professor at Yale and the University of Vermont. He is writer-in-residence at the Market Theatre, Johannesburg. His previous novel The Heart of Redness was published by FSG in 2002.

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