The Mandela Plot

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  2018


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 for Jewish boys, 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, Annie Goldberg, boards at the Helger home, a transfixed Martin soon finds himself wrenched out of the isolated bubble of his suburban Jewish existence in Johannesburg 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 originally from Lithuania, 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.

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