The second novel from GG finalist and international award winner Kenneth Bonert, who brought Jewish Johannesburg to explosive life in his 2013 debut, The Lion Seeker.
As the 1980s draw to a close, apartheid is in its death throes and South Africa is a maelstrom of political violence. Young Martin Helger has problems of his own. Out of place at an elite private school, he is the son of a rough-handed scrap dealer and lives in the shadow of his enigmatic brother, a neighbourhood legend. When an irresistible young American boards at the Helger home, a transfixed Martin soon finds himself wrenched out of the isolated bubble of his white privilege and thrust into the raw heart of South Africa's racial struggle. At the same time, secrets from the past begin to emerge and old sins long-buried return in terrifying new ways, tearing at the Helgers, a second-generation Jewish family, even as the larger forces of history and politics tear apart the country.
Migration, terrorism, revolution, identity and memory--these are just some of the bold themes brilliantly and honestly explored in this powerful novel. At once a riveting literary thriller, a moving coming-of-age tale, and an unforgettable journey through a fascinating world, The Mandela Plot entertains and terrifies in equal measure, and resonates profoundly in light of current affairs.
KENNETH BONERT's debut novel, The Lion Seeker, won numerous awards, including: the Sami Rohr Choice Award, the National Jewish Book Award for Outstanding Debut Fiction, the Edward Lewis Wallant Award, and the Canadian Jewish Book Award. It was a finalist for the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction and the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, and was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Holiday Selection. His short stories have appeared in Grain and The Fiddlehead. His story "Packers and Movers" was shortlisted for the Journey Prize and his novella Peacekeepers, 1995 appeared in McSweeney's. A one-time journalist, his articles appeared in The Globe and Mail, National Post and other publications.
Shortlisted for the 2018 JJ Greenberg Memorial Award for Fiction, a US National Jewish Book Award
“Bonert has given us a terrifying yet compelling look at South Africa as it struggled to shake off its colonial past.” —Winnipeg Free Press
“While The Mandela Plot astounds with the twists and surprises of its irresistible story, this page-turning coming-of-age tale is also a vivid evocation of a remarkable time and place. And a moving and compelling examination of family, power, corruption, hope, loyalty, trust, love, and hate—alive with humour and exuberant language.” —Gary Barwin, award-winning author of Yiddish for Pirates
“The Mandela Plot is as suspenseful as a thriller, and the truest kind of Jewish family story—suffused with love and secrets both. It’s also a masterful, terrifying portrait of a nation, at once bewitching and brutal, whose years on the edge have so much to teach America, and the world, today. You won’t be able to put this book down.” —Boris Fishman, author of A Replacement Life
“Propulsive, bare-boned, and riveting, The Mandela Plot shows how competing loyalties to family, truth, and history can tear a person—and a country—apart. Kenneth Bonert’s unvarnished characters are fierce and surprising—there are no seat belts on this ride.” —Rachel Kadish, author of The Weight of Ink
PRAISE FOR KENNETH BONERT AND HIS PREVIOUS BOOK, THE LION SEEKER:
“The finest debut novel I read this year, The Lion Seeker is as ambitious and intelligent as its protagonist, a young Jewish boy coming of age in South Africa in the years between the World Wars. Want an elevator pitch? How about City of God meets The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz by way of Johannesburg. How the hell will he top this?” —Mark Medley, National Post
“The Lion Seeker has been compared with J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace for its ability to render the South African experience universal. . . . Bonert has made a remarkable literary debut and seems likely to reach a great many readers.” —The Canadian Jewish News
“Kenneth Bonert joins the ranks of Ann-Marie MacDonald, Yann Martel, Timothy Taylor and Ami McKay with the publication of his debut novel The Lion Seeker. . . . Bonert’s writing is energetic, confident and sophisticated.” —CBC Books
“Bonert’s prose is sharp and masterful, clipping along at a breathless pace while still managing to wow us with imagery, clever turns of phrase and believable dialogue peppered with several languages. The mystery at the heart of the novel is fairly easy to guess, but the tornado of events that lead us to its resolution is anything but.” —Zoe Whittall, The Globe and Mail