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.
Title: The Zebra Affaire: An Apartheid Love Story
Author: Mark Fine
Series: The Sub-Saharan Saga Book 1
Publish Date: May 15, 2014
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 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.
However, 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.
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