Ivory From Paradise by David Schmahmann

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A companion novel to the award-winning Empire Settings, Ivory from Paradise is a powerful story of betrayal, family legends, and the fickle nature of history.

Helga Divin, the matriarch of a prominent white family from Durban in Kwa Zulu-Natal, South Africa, lies dying in the splendid London mansion of her second husband, the unscrupulous industrialist Arnold Miro.

Her children Danny and Bridget, both well established in Boston, rush to her side where they quickly realize that Arnold, in addition to mistreating their mother, has begun to claim as his own a priceless collection of African artifacts that their dead father spent a lifetime assembling and chronicling.

The collection's most important pieces are a pair of majestic ivory tusks that were once owned by King Shaka, founder of the Zulu nation and a major symbolic figure in modern South Africa. Their father's account of the origins and provenance of the tusks - how, after a long and complicated journey, they had finally come into his possession - was a story often told and long accepted.

As Danny and Bridget move to thwart what they see as an unforgivable theft of their family heirlooms, they find themselves having to face instead the truth about their father's stories, the true ownership of this unique collection of Africana, and long held beliefs about their own past and their country's history.

After many years away, the two return home to Durban to finish what they started in London. Amid the turbulence of the "new" South Africa, and against the backdrop of dramatic changes in the lives of old family friends' and former domestic servants, Danny and Bridget come face-to-face with the reality that much of what they always thought to be true is instead as fragile and as suspect as the story of King Shaka and his ivory tusks.


About David Schmahmann

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David Schmahmann was born and raised in Durban, South Africa. A graduate of Dartmouth College and the Cornell Law School, he writes and practices law in Boston and lives with his wife and two daughters in Weston, Massachusetts. His first novel, Empire Settings, which received the John Gardner Fiction Award, features many of the same characters who appear in Ivory From Paradise. Nibble & Kuhn, his second novel, a love story set in a WASP law firm, is also published by Academy Chicago.
Published March 30, 2011 by Academy Chicago Publishers. 353 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Ivory From Paradise

Kirkus Reviews

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Miro also is attempting to misappropriate a collection of Zulu historical objects gathered by Silas Divin, Helga's first husband, Danny and Bridget's father.

Mar 15 2011 | Read Full Review of Ivory From Paradise

Publishers Weekly

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This tower was "likely to fall at any moment," and fall, it does when Silas dies suddenly and mysteriously, propelling his son Danny to Boston and Danny's sister and mother to London.

Feb 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Ivory From Paradise

Bookmarks Magazine

Publisher: Academy Chicago Publishers Product Description A Jewish family of South African expatriates is torn by emotional conflicts and a battle over possessions, revealing their illusions about the past and the rea...

Feb 21 2011 | Read Full Review of Ivory From Paradise

The Roanoke Times

… I saw a policeman confess to the most terrible crimes … in the presence of the families of those whom he had murdered and tortured, and then I saw him … ask to be taken back into the community of decent people, and I saw the family members without even a moment’s thought stand up and applaud, t...

Mar 20 2011 | Read Full Review of Ivory From Paradise

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In honor of the Presidents Day holiday, this is our last issue until Tuesday, February 22, Washington's birthday.

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