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Zakes Mda is probably the best novelist in Africa today and certainly the most prolific This is one of his most impressive works taking a very close look at how what sed to be illicit sex across the colourlines would impact on a particular community There is a skillful constant introduction to chapters by reference to drawing Nikky Poppy and other characters are very well rounded and convincing Theauthor is firmly objective in presenting the characters white black or coloured It is not only whites who discriminate we see as the coloured ones are not the darlings of many blacks too A veryintelligent powerful work A truly artistic tale told during the end of Apartheid in South Africa During a time when it was illegal for whites to have sex with blacks one of the protagonists Niki is put on trial and spends time in prison for giving birth to a blue eyed daughter Popi The story then follows Niki her son Viliki and Popi through the end of apartheid and post apartheid worlds All the while Popi tries to find her place in the world never feeling totally black and never whiteAlthough the story is amazing the beauty is in the way Mda tells the story He brilliantly
mends together descriptions of painting of the characters with stories of the characters lives creating a vivid together descriptions of painting of the characters with stories of the characters lives creating a vivid of the Rainbow Nation Most times books talking about South
Africa Either Show The either show the fancy stuck p white side of South Africa or the stereotypical native out in the grassland black native But The Madonna of Excelsior shows both sides the inbetweenIt s no surprise the rich are white and the poor are black But what about the ones they call colored The ones who are both black and white This book explores thatZakes Mda is an amazingly detailed writer his words helping the reader see everything he speaks of in perfect clarity The only thing that bothered me about his writing or at least this book was the description of a painting at the beginning of each chapter But that s solely a personal opinion because while it sometimes helped push the story along most of the time I felt it pulled me from itAt times I felt the story didn t really have a plot to it it s of a character driven book rather than plot driven and even then the characters didn t do too much drivingStill there was something that kept me reading and enthralled Maybe it was Mda s beautiful words or his attention to detail It could have been his characters and their journey to better themselves and the world around them But whatever it was something grabbed at me and kept me readingI warn you that this may be one of those cup of tea books it s either your cup of tea or it isn t Still give it a chance Fiction does not always facilitate or augment the nderstanding of complex realities of time and place Zakes Mda however has achieved this mixture admirably in this novel of his native South Africa The political events of pre and post Apartheid periods take a central place in the story Yet he manages to avoid being overly heavy on facts and details as he builds the narrative around the impact of one specific event and its aftermath on one small community Excelsior He captures the essence of life Babys Watch / A Hero of Her Own under Apartheid and the difficulties awaiting all when the regime ends Old prejudices and tensions remain and the transition to the new SA adds new challenges and conflicts including among the black political leadershipMdases the 1971 case of the Excelsior 19. A generous patient wry and intelligent voicethat suggests not just a writer who can seduce Desire Island - The Niece us through beautiful language andnfailing humor We also encounter a writer who has the power to shock and frighten Sweet Valentine us to astound and anger andnsettle sIn short. ,
As the focus of the first part of his account A group of white men and black women were charged with violation of the Immorality Act that prohibits intimate relations group of white men and black women were charged with violation of
the Immorality Act that prohibits intimate relations race lines The primary character is Niki one of theImmorality Act that prohibits intimate relations race lines The primary character is Niki one of the 19 women whose life story is a symbol for this time and place As a na ve pretty 18 year old she attracts the attention of a white Afrikaner who assaults her and keeps pursuing her Escape into marriage is some protection and also results in her confidence growing Life is good with a husband and her son Viliki Never estioning her role as a servant and second class citizen a humiliating incident with her white woman boss changes all thatHer rage leads her to take revenge Realizing her power as a black beauty and the hold it has over white Afrikaners she applies it deliberately The mixed race daughter Popi is evidence of the hushed p relationship Despite the indisputable evidence of children like Popi the charges against the Excelsior 19 are withdrawn Still those implicated and their families have to somehow work out their lives and their various relationships within families among neighbours between Afrikaners English and Blacks and Coloured Niki and
her children also suffer the conseuences As the narrative of their lives continues the focus shiftschildren also suffer the conseuences As the narrative of their lives continues the focus shifts Popi and her extraordinary beauty Her features increasingly reveal her parentage to everybody in the community In the new SA she can play an important role in the community despite the continuing suspicions against mixed race people who are not black enoughMda does an excellent job of bringing diverse individuals to life We see them from different angles we empathize with them and comprehend them as part of a larger reality being is being played out Nothing is black and white excuse the pun nobody is all good or all bad Mda acknowledges that Afrikaners maintain their dreams of returning to power and depicts realistically the political conflicts within the black leadership He introduces two kinds of observers to the novel Father Claerhout the Belgian priest artist living in the region and a knowledgeable we narrator The trinity man Father painter as the Father is referred to is fascinated by black madonnas who sit for him in all their nude loveliness and grace Niki becomes a preferred subject mainly because of beautiful young PopiThe chapters open with the description of one of the trinity s paintings They create an imaginary world with blue or purple madonnas in lush robes or naked sitting in yellow corn fields among surreal bright sunflowers or surrounded by pink and white star like blossoms The child of the heavy set full breasted Madonna is of a lighter shade of brown and with delicate features Sometimes other elements are added creating portraits of life in the rural community Semi abstract and dreamlike the paintings are reminiscent of van Gogh They are always a lead in to the chapter and often the protagonists literally walk off the canvas The transition between bold imagination and reality is fluid We the reader follow with curiosity and emotion To complement the trinity s visions the we observer steps in to reflect on people and events Assumed to be witnesses of Popi s generation they follow her closely and comment in particular on the attention and mixed feelings she draws in the community Sometimes critics sometimes voyeurs they establish the connections between the paintings and the reality of. His is a voice for which one should feel not only affection but admiration Neil Gordon New York Times Book ReviewSelection Summer Reading New York Times Book ReviewIn 1971 nineteen citizens of Excelsior in South Africa's white ruled Free State were charged.
CHARACTERS The Madonna of ExcelsiorThis microcosm that represents South AfricaMda s novel is
wide ranging and multifaceted While it moves fast through time and events it allows pauses to ponder scenes andranging and multifaceted While it moves fast through time and events it allows pauses to ponder scenes and
of life and invites reflection of decisive historicallife and invites reflection of decisive historical in modern South Africa You will come away enriched and keen to read by this remarkable autho This book is set in South Africa during apartheid I liked the journey of the characters but ltimately this was just okay for me I deducted a star for some of the extra flowery writing I don t care for the wordiness when it comes to colors of things from skin sky clothes etc I cringe a little when this is abused and it was here There were a lot tragic and sad events in this book It was heartbreaking what was endured and why I thought the author portrayed his characters well as well as the events of the timebut the flowery nonsense was hard to ignore This was a fascinating look at recent South African history It would be a great book to pair with Trevor Noah s Born a Crime as it s a fictional account based on an actual trial of white men and black women having children during apartheid It mostly follows one particular family particularly the daughter It was a bit of a slow burn for me fascinating but it took me Some Like It Hotter uite a while to read Two things came to my mind after I read this novel which was recommended to me and I did some research on the author firstly here is an African author who deserves the Nobel award for Literature and secondly the author is also an excellent painterartist The latter is very much evident from this work the start of chapters and the profound descriptions of painting and its arsenal so to speak The author certainly vividly tells his story ies and we become highly engrossed We see the plight of women again here suppressed but stillsed as sex objects with the white fathers completely More Than a Convenient Bride (Texas Cattlemans Club: After the Storm uninterested in the products of such illicitnions the children It is a brilliant novel written by a man who nderstands South African history and politics very well Mda s profile shows that he has published like a dozen or superb novels over the decades Perhaps in Africa only the hallowed Ngugi has come near such prolificacy So why should Mda not be recognised for something like the Nobel award Magnificent novel centred on the charming small town of Excelsor in South Africa Sex across the colour line with invariable conseuences I ve never read any books set in South Africa and I truly enjoyed this one I loved how the opening of each chapter was a description of a painting and then the painting dissolved into the storyline i enjoy reading the book by Mr Mda lately i have become a fan of his workThe book is set in the apartheid era when blacks where not allowed to mingle with the white foksreading the book i was able to identify few themesForgiveness self acceptance forgiveness would come in the form of Niki coming into terms with her past and the guilt she had when her daughter was batlling with acceptance And self acceptance would be Popi she had difficulty accepting who she was and the fact that she was different from the black girls in her community and she looked alot like the whites She was costantly teased about her hair and her appearence this made her resent especially her hair because they were a constant remainder that she was different As the novel was ending she was able to loveappreciate who she is even her mother was able to observe. 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 scanda.