The Zebra Affaire by Mark Fine

The Zebra Affaire by Mark Fine uses one couple’s life to shine a light on the egregious unfairness of South African Apartheid.

Zebra AffaireTitle:  The Zebra Affaire: An Apartheid Love Story
Author:  Mark Fine
Series: The Sub-Saharan Saga Book 1
Publish Date:  May 15, 2014
Genre:  Fiction
Source: Provided by the author

Publisher’s Description: IT’S THE SPRING OF ‘76. For Elsa, her affair with Stanwell may well prove lethal, as she’s white and he’s black, and they dared to fall in love in apartheid South Africa. The terrified lovers are the prey in a deadly manhunt from the golden city of Johannesburg to the exotic but dangerous wilds of the African bushveld.

The Zebra Affaire is a thrilling fusion of romance and suspense—laced with rich South African history. The tension is palpable as the persecuted couple race against time and bigotry. Reviewers rave about this intimate, yet dangerous love story; that’s set against a canvas that is both vividly authentic and powerfully provocative.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Agent_Annie_100Agent Annie says…

In A Zebra Affaire, we are introduced to Elsa, the daughter of Dutch immigrants and Stanwell, a Malawi black national, who fell in love in 1976 and the impossibility they face as an inter-racial couple. Some of the writing is just beautiful in it’s depiction of the physical beauty and history of South Africa, but it could use some better editing.

I thought the abrupt changes of location and perspective in each chapter didn’t flow well and detracted from the story. At one point, I realized that the author was trying to cram every possible image of Africa into this story in order to address what seemed the history of an entire continent.  The story of the colonization of Africa and the struggles each country went through for independence is well known and there have been several movies and books that depict it for the Western audience.  I didn’t feel it necessary to include a safari, a description of the Soweto riots, the mines in Johannesburg, and the privileged life of the rich and white.

The author also made a particular point to explain that they were using something outside normal foot- and end-notes.  He called them “anywhere” notes and were meant to not detract from the main plot.  Unfortunately, I don’t believe the author achieved that.  I felt that they could have just been part of the story and had they been edited properly would have been a seamless transition from the action to the history and back again.

badge3v4However, there were a few really interesting well-written parts of the story that I felt weren’t part of the general knowledge of the history of South Africa.  The tribal rivalism amongst black natives was well presented and the inclusion of the idea of “Jewish Guilt” and the flight of most affluent Jews from South Africa was done well. I wanted more detail but that may have made for a story all on it’s own. And that is what I think is the author’s’ undoing.  Trying to put too much into an already complex story.  I give it a 3: solid, but needs work.

Other reviews…

If you like this book…

…try The Power of One by Bryce Courtney or Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton.

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About Agent Annie

I am a former Independent bookstore owner that created a 30 books in 30 minutes presentation for book clubs, libraries and avid reader groups. I specialize in short reviews that focus on plot, theme and discussion topics. I primarily read mystery/thriller, who-done-its and sci-fi/fantasy. I love stories in any format and will listen to an audio book as quickly as I would read a paper or digital version. I prefer books that make you think, don't have a predictable ending and tend to have some aspect that is outside the current norm. I tend to enjoy series once I am hooked on the main characters and the world and am very loyal. Some of the books I've enjoyed in the past are: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear, The Dragon Riders of Pern by Anne & Todd McCaffrey and The Sherlockian Graham Moore. I will also read ANYTHING by Stephen King. As a matter of fact, I wrote a graduate level paper on the leadership styles in The Stand. I will accept review requests.

Posted on December 14, 2015, in 3-Okay, Agent Annie, contemporary fiction, Review, Romance and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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