The Mandela Plot (Hardcover)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9781328886187, 480pp.
Publication Date: May 22, 2018
As the 1980s draw to a close, South Africa is a maelstrom of political violence with the apartheid regime in its death throes. Young Martin Helger is the struggling odd duck at an elite private boys school in Johannesburg, with his father a rough-handed scrap dealer and his brother a mysterious legend.
When a beautiful and manipulative American arrives at the family home, Martin soon finds himself wrenched out of his isolated bubble and thrust into the raw heart of the 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 as a whole. Mercy is in short supply and ultimately Martin must rely on alternative strengths to protect himself and fight for a better future.
From the acclaimed author of the National Jewish Book Award–winning debut novel The Lion Seeker, The Mandela Plot is at once a riveting literary thriller, a moving coming of age tale, and an unforgettable journey through a world that entertains and terrifies in equal measure, and holds profound resonance for the present moment.
About the Author
KENNETH BONERT’s first novel, The Lion Seeker, won the National Jewish Book Award, the Edward Lewis Wallant Award, and the Canadian Jewish Book Award. Bonert was also a finalist for the Sami Rohr Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award. He was born in South Africa and now lives in Toronto, Ontario.
Praise For The Mandela Plot…
A Finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, Fiction
A Publisher’s Lunch “Emerging Voice”
A New York Post "Must-Read Book"
"This is fiction that illuminates shifting allegiances and power struggles during a dark time and place in recent history. A riveting thriller with a solid historical base."
—Booklist, Starred Review
"The Mandela Plot is as suspenseful as a thriller, and the truest kind of Jewish family story—suffused with love and secrets both. It'salso 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 and Don’t Let My Baby Do Rodeo
“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
“Chaim Potok meets Leon Uris: a solid […] portrait of violence and renewal.”
"It’s the late 1980s in South Africa, where an awkward boy named Martin struggles to find a place at an elite private school in Johannesburg. A beautiful American activist comes to live with Martin at his family home, and she makes him see his own chaotic, changing country through a new lens."
—New York Post, "This week's must-read books"