The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo

The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo

A Novel

Book - 2006
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"Larry Kaplanski from Cincinnati is a volunteer teacher in a small, rough all-boys Catholic school in the Namibian desert in 1991, just after independence. He shares a shack with colleagues and is in love with beautiful Mavala Shikongo, who is a kindergarten teacher and veteran guerilla fighter from the antiapartheid "struggle." The weight of the brutal colonial and apartheid past is always there, but the freedom story is never reverential, and the taut vignettes, anguished and sometimes hilarious, are about ordinary people now. The novel is more situation than story, but there are scenes that will stay with you forever: the three illegal refugee children from across the border, who only want school, and then are gone after three days; the drought stories; the fence building (Why? How?); the farce of the Cincinnati community that sends an old broken piano "for the adorable little school somewhere in deepest Africa.""--Booklist.
Publisher: New York : Little, Brown, c2006
Edition: 1st ed
Branch Call Number: FICTION ORN
Characteristics: 304 p. ; 22 cm

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brianharrigan
Sep 02, 2013

I decided to read this book as a book reviewer had described it as "the best book about Africa written by a non-African". I have travelled to and lived near Namibia, where the book's "action" takes place. Although "action" is probably the wrong word to describe the various stills, snapshots and observations that make up the book. Divided into many (154!!) chapters, the story is best read in snippets as well, but without long intervals, to allow proper digestion and to reflect on the underlying messages that resonate despite the seemingly slow, disconnected nature of the chapter snapshots. Thee are many funny moments, and the sand, heat and geogrpaphical desolation of the place seem to amplify the colour of the various characters in the story. This was well-worth the read.

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