The Madonna of Excelsior

A Novel

Zakes Mda

Picador

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"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.

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WOMEN, DONKEYS AND SUNFLOWERS
ATHESE THINGS flow from the sins of our mothers. The land that lies flat on its back for kilometre after relentless kilometre. The black roads that run across it in different directions, slicing through one-street platteland towns. The cosmos flowers that form a guard of honour for the lone motorist. White, pink and purple petals. The sunflower fields that stretch as far as the eye can see. The land that is awash with yellowness. And the brownness of the qokwa grass.
Colour explodes. Green, yellow, red and blue.

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Reviews

Praise for The Madonna of Excelsior

"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

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About the Author

Zakes Mda

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.

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Available Formats and Book Details

The Madonna of Excelsior
A Novel
Zakes Mda

Award

ALA Notable Books - Winner, Hurston/Wright LEGACY Award - Finalist

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Picador
March 2005
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312423827
ISBN10: 0312423829
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 288 pages
$17.00

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
May 2007
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9780374708238
ISBN10: 0374708231
272 pages
$7.99
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