The Madonna of Excelsior by Zakes Mda
A Novel

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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.


About Zakes Mda

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Zakes Mda is a professor of creative writing at Ohio University. He has been a visiting professor at both Yale and the University of Vermont. Among his novels, The Heart of Redness (FSG, 2002) won the Richard Wright Zora Neale Hurston Legacy Award. He lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Athens, Ohio.
Published May 15, 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 269 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Madonna of Excelsior

Kirkus Reviews

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There’s a tense account of the trial of “the Excelsior 19,” brought to an end when 14 black women are persuaded not to give evidence against the 5 whites they “seduced.” Mda traces the sad history of Niki’s marriage to Pule, who labors in mines far away and stores implacable resentment over her “...

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Publishers Weekly

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In vibrant prose infused with equal parts satire and social criticism, Mda (The Heart of Redness ) charts new emotional terrain exploring the Madonna-whore complex in a South African setting.

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Entertainment Weekly

In an emotionally astute portrait of South Africa infused with touches of magic realism, Mda reimagines the 1971 case of the ''Excelsior 19'' -- 14 black women and 5 white men whose trial for breaking anti-miscegenation laws sparked a national debate about apartheid.

Mar 12 2004 | Read Full Review of The Madonna of Excelsior: A N...

Leading the pack, many would say, would be Zakes Mda, who has won every major South African prize for his work as a novelist and playwright.

Jul 05 2004 | Read Full Review of The Madonna of Excelsior: A N...

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