Agaat by Marlene Van Niekerk

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 7 Critic Reviews



Set in apartheid South Africa, Agaat portrays the unique relationship between Milla, a 67-year-old white woman, and her black maidservant turned caretaker, Agaat. Through flashbacks and diary entries, the reader learns about Milla's past. Life for white farmers in 1950s South Africa was full of promise — young and newly married, Milla raised a son and created her own farm out of a swathe of Cape mountainside. Forty years later her family has fallen apart, the country she knew is on the brink of huge change, and all she has left are memories and her proud, contrary, yet affectionate guardian. With haunting, lyrical prose, Marlene Van Niekerk creates a story of love and family loyalty. Winner of the South African Sunday Times Fiction Prize in 2007, Agaat was translated as The Way of the Women by Michiel Heyns, who received the Sol Plaatje Award for his translation.

About Marlene Van Niekerk

See more books from this Author
Van Niekerk was born in 1954 and grew up on a farm in the Caledon district of South Africa's Western Cape. She studied philosophy, languages, and literature at the universities of Stellenbosch, Amsterdam, and Witwatersrand, where she is currently lecturer in the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch. She lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Published June 1, 2010 by Tin House Books. 594 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Agaat

The New York Times

See more reviews from this publication

She finds Agaat asleep, exhausted, at the foot of her bed, cradling her feet, “her head turned aside on her strong arm, the little thin arm is drooped over my ankles.” The ounooi’s feet lie “against her chest, as if she’d gathered them there to hold them, like a child going to bed with a teddy be...

May 21 2010 | Read Full Review of Agaat

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

Van Niekerk follows the widely lauded Triomf with a dark, innovative epic that trudges through the depths of a South African farmwife's soul.

Mar 08 2010 | Read Full Review of Agaat


200m SA Junior Champion Wayde van Niekerk beat World Championships 4x400m Silver medallist, Shane Victor in the men’s 300m as well as the talented...

May 21 2010 | Read Full Review of Agaat

London Review of Books

It showed white supremacist and Afrikaner nationalist ideology as leading logically to incest and inbreeding, and portrayed unflinchingly the mistreatment of its female protagonist, Mol, linking her abuse to white supremacy, with its commitment to the authority of white men, and its policing of w...

| Read Full Review of Agaat

Fiction Writers Review

Blog (339) Anne Stameshkin (299) Celeste Ng (263) writers on writing (255) novel (217) Review (176) short stories (171) debut novel (153) Book of the Week (149) craft (133) Lee Thomas (117) lit and tech (111) recommended reading (109) FWR news (102) publishing (102) debut story collection (98) in...

| Read Full Review of Agaat

Fiction Writers Review

But where this structure might have seemed arbitrary or contrived in the hands of a lesser writer, here it emerges organically from the novel’s context: the diary entries, for example, are there because Agaat is reading Milla’s diaries aloud to her to keep her entertained, and what an act of both...

Jun 02 2011 | Read Full Review of Agaat

Publishing Perspective

Over time, Milla and Agaat develop a complex co-dependency, as do Jakkie and Agaat, while Jak becomes jealous of Agaat’s hold over both his wife and his son.

Mar 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Agaat

Reader Rating for Agaat

An aggregated and normalized score based on 27 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review