Read The Zebra Affaire: An Apartheid Love Story (The Sub-Sahara Saga, #1 by Mark Fine Online


THE ZEBRA AFFAIRE: An Apartheid Love Story 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.When affairsTHE ZEBRA AFFAIRE: An Apartheid Love Story 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.When affairs of the State battle affaires of the heart, ordinary people become heroes!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."A book to savor slowly...appreciating each moment...such was the quality of the writing. One of the best books I've read this year." - Jean Gill, author of 'Song at Dawn'"The story of Stanwell and Elsa really touched me. Racial discrimination was so dehumanizing. It was a real privilege to read the history, a period of pain and hope, as seen through Mark Fine's eyes." - Thandi Lujabe-Rankoe, Former Freedom Fighter & Senior South African Diplomat"The Zebra Affaire grips your soul and won't let go. Never mind zebras, think lions, raw and roar." - Geoff Nelder, author of 'ARIA: Left Luggage'...

Title : The Zebra Affaire: An Apartheid Love Story (The Sub-Sahara Saga, #1
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781512321029
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 352 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Zebra Affaire: An Apartheid Love Story (The Sub-Sahara Saga, #1 Reviews

  • Elizabeth Horton-Newton
    2019-03-20 14:46

    It is not often a book as intensely dazzling as “The Zebra Affaire” by Mark Fine comes along. A forbidden love story takes place against the dramatic background of 1970’s South Africa and apartheid. Fine draws you into the story cautiously, laying the groundwork for the eventual affair between Elsa and Stanwell. By gently educating the reader with the background of the conflicts in South Africa, awareness of the difficulties faced by the star crossed lovers is enhanced. This is more than a racial segregation issue; there is a deeper issue brewing in South Africa. Tribal conflicts cause significant damage to a country beset by violence and political unrest. As the love of Elsa and Stanwell grows deeper and more intense they are assisted by some to strengthen their bond. While segregation forbids open encouragement of their union, friends support them quietly. But the strict Afrikaner regime stands against them if not publicly at least in a behind closed doors attack on their union. While they flaunt their affair the government seems to stand in stunned silence as the world looks on. But the fanatics behind the scenes are both appalled and disgusted by their obvious sexual relationship and strive to expose and punish them for breaking hundreds years old laws. With vibrant descriptions of both the beauty and ugliness of South Africa the story weaves its way to an intense climax. Waiting for the resolution of the love affair the reader will also wait for the resolution of apartheid. Knowing the eventual outcome of South African politics and the rise of Nelson Mandela it is easy to anticipate the same result for Stanwell and Elsa. In spite of some subtle foreshadowing of events to come the inevitable conclusion still comes as a shocking surprise.I highly recommend this lush and beautifully written story. Fine’s use of words is akin to an artist’s use of the palette; this is not a black and white story, this is a rainbow story with the rich colors of lives in turmoil. In a word, it is brilliant. If I could rate it higher I would do so.

  • Jean Gill
    2019-03-23 13:49

    An inter-racial love story told with ‘the warmth of humanity’s voice’While beautiful Afrikaner Elsa was committing the crime of love for a black Malawi man working in South Africa, in 1976, I was much the same age and living in the UK, horrified by the idea of Apartheid but knowing little of the inside story. Thanks to this wide-ranging novel, I’ve experienced that inside story: a personal history of individuals from the three major 'human categories' recognized by the ‘uncivil servants’, and also the history of a country through a political revolution.The central love affair is beautifully told, sensual and moving as the lovers fight the system, aided by courageous friends. I wanted Elsa and Stanwell to be together. The bead necklace moved me to tears. It was a terrible moment for me when the couple were offered the chance to go to England – and turned it down. That’s when I understood that there are two love affairs in this book; like Stanwell, Mark Fine loves South Africa; its peoples, its landscape and its wildlife. He knows that the cute lion cubs who leave spittle in Elsa’s hair are the same creatures who rip apart their prey in the bush – and he still loves them. Passionate and honest, Mark Fine has chosen to set the context documentary-style, in italics, and tells the reader to skip those parts if they so wish. I thought I’d find this fact-fiction structure irritating but I didn’t. For me, it’s part of what makes this ambitious novel so powerful: an intelligent, compassionate analysis of terrible events gave me an understanding of how daily life in South Africa was constrained in every way, how segregation meant a degree of censorship that created a different kind of segregation. White South African were also cut off from ‘the rest of the world.’ The first half of the book stopped me in my tracks a few times to re-read some wise words about life and there is beautiful writing, with local colour from the Africaans phrases included. Then the pace went up several gears and I was turning pages to find out what would happen. I felt the shift in pace was a little awkward, as if there were two different kinds of books – both equally good, but likely to appeal to different readers and expectations. The final chapter returned to the more contemplative overview of the individuals in the wider political context and I felt these parts of the book to be important, worth re-reading, far more than an exciting plot. Mark Fine is not afraid to judge the politicians and the politics of the era, in black and white (!) His period details are impeccable and I enjoyed the digressions into characters’ family histories. It made me smile when I read the words ‘So, back to the story.’ This enthusiasm for the breadth of story he has to tell is part of the book’s charm, as he says of ‘the manner of Africa… with the warmth of humanity’s voice’.

  • Rochelle Carlton
    2019-04-11 10:41

    Author, Mark Fine has neatly stitched together both a fictional romance and a factually informative novel. “The Zebra Affaire” will transport the reader to a world of racial tension, tribal unease and prejudice. It will allow the reader to easily visualise the beauty of the wild life, and the landscape and lifestyle through the eyes of the author.Through his sympathetic portrayal of the two main characters the reader is able to experience a romantic, tragic and moving love story. Their relationship also allows the reader to relate to and better understand the adversary and struggles of these troubled and volatile times.“The Zebra Affaire” will appeal to two distinctly different readers and for achieving this I applaud the author. On one level it will sweep the romantic away in a touching story of love against the odds. On another level it will provide a thought provoking journey to those interested in South Africa and its history.This is a captivating, well written novel. It will move you to tears. It will leave you thinking about the characters and their plight. I would highly recommend this novel as worthwhile to a wide cross section of readers.

  • Terra
    2019-04-11 15:43

    A beautiful love story intertwined in amongst a time when their love was deemed wrong. Zebra Affaire will take you to 1976, during a time when Apartheid was a very common understanding. Two worlds will collide, and the word Apartheid is just a thought. What they see is so much more than color, hate, and fighting. As I read the story, I found myself frustrated. I was frustrated with how easy it was to set judgement on this couple. I was also frustrated, because in my eyes there is no color difference, we are all one. I felt the author did a beautiful job sharing the history during that time. You wanted to know more and you wanted to understand why. It was obvious that the story had so much heart and soul on every page, since the author was born in South Africa. I truly enjoyed this story, and look forward to reading more books by Mark Fine!

  • Jackie Parry
    2019-04-04 14:00

    Thrilling, eloquent, captivating.The seventies in South Africa and an apartheid government sets the composition of this story. Added to the arrangement is conflict, love, cruelty, wealth, power and romance.Fine creates a colourful symphony of prose and a riveting story to lose yourself within. I learned, without lecture, about the historical path of South Africa and the clashing of tribal differences, government laws, and the realities of this time.This is a very special book that has you cheering for the mixed race couple when the odds are incredibly slim. Fine has created a deep-thinking page-turner that won’t bog you down or slow your reading, it will make you want to absorb and indulge in each and every page.

  • Glen Barrera
    2019-04-15 15:54

    A beautifully told love story, within a story. I was impressed with this book. Not only with the high literary quality of the writing, but with its concept. That is: an interracial love story, woven within the greater story of an apartheid South African government (1976). The result of which will force the lovers, Elsa and Stanwell, to hide their affair, surviving only by subterfuge and the graces of friends sympathetic to their cause. But it was against this backdrop of what might be another opposite-sides-of-the-tracks love story that tipped the scale for me. For, with clever breaks between the narrative, the author raises the stakes by offering an inside view of the SA government at that time, and it’s strict policies that prohibited intimate contact with a person of another race – with the possibility of death as a consequence. Those breaks came as an eye-opener to me, having a general knowledge of what apartheid entailed, but never a clue as to its actuality. So I soon found myself engrossed in the story and rooting for Fine’s well-developed characters, Elsa and Stanwell, pitted against a brutal regime with a security branch, and Mel Zander, whose mission is to stop them at any cost. This book was a wonderful read. I’d like to see more of Mark Fine’s work.

  • Joseph Brewer
    2019-03-25 09:52

    What a surprise and delight to open a book and discover the tapestry of South Africa. Not only the history, language, culture, struggles, clashes, its tribes and the arrival of Europeans, but the the truth of the bloody conflicts and the emergence of a minority controlling a government using apartheid until modern times demand change.With this comes the unlikeliest of love stories, an Afrikaner woman and a Malawi man, who before they know what is happening, fall in love despite their coupling breaking every rule of apartheid. Author Mark Fine weaves an intricate tale of 1970s South Africa, but the story goes back so much further, and not just the Boers and the British, but the European refugees, the indigenous peoples' rivalries and customs, the natural beauty to behold and resources to utilize.The colonial past finally gave way to inevitable demands of the modern world. Fine details the hopes and struggles of a nation in the lives of his characters and concludes his tale with hope for the future of his homeland. It's a hope all can share, inspired by this fine story.The Zebra Affairs is a mix of romance and historic fiction of the best quality.

  • Vanessa Wester
    2019-03-25 13:38

    This book is the perfect fusion of fiction & non-fiction. The fictional tale of Elsa, a white native South African, and Stanwell, a black foreigner from Malawi, and their forbidden love story within the harsh Apartheid regime of South Africa in 1976 is beautifully written and I shed a tear at its climax.The addition of non-fiction extracts throughout the story added a depth to the tale that made the situation more real. With the death of Mandela in 2013 it is important to reflect on both the man and the situation in his native South Africa.I have recently been reading many historical fiction novels based on slavery and colonialism and was extremely glad to stumble across this book. The fact I have Dutch relatives only added to my appreciation of the novel, since I understand the language somewhat.This is not a typical narrative, but it is definitely a book I would recommend to anyone interested in issues concerning racism and inequality within a tense romantic setting.

  • Wanda DeHaven Pyle
    2019-04-06 09:33

    Romeo and Juliet Wrapped in Social and Political CommentaryMark Fine has admirably taken on the daunting task of melding fiction with nonfiction in The Zebra Affaire. He has done so by placing his editorial commentary within the text of the novel.These passages are italicized to distinguish them from the fictional story. He welcomes the reader to "skip these asides in order to stick to the main trail of the tale". The result of this experiment in style is a kind of Romeo and Juliet tale wrapped in social and political commentary.As a history buff, I found it irresistible to skip these editorial asides. While they were thought-provoking and informative, they also proved to be a distraction to the fictional story. I found it difficult to really get to know the characters in order to fully empathize with their situation. Just when I became engrossed in the story and the beauty of the language, it was interrupted by the commentary. My personal preference would have been to place the commentary in endnotes. That would have allowed me to become more vested in the emotional tale of the two lovers and provide me with a personal connection to the horrors of apartheid. But others may feel differently about this.Overall, this book is extremely well-written and the language is vivid and poetic. I would highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the effects of apartheid at a very human level.

  • Geoff Nelder
    2019-04-18 09:38

    This is more than a daring, multi-racial romance set in a racist South Africa in 1976 on the cusp of abandoning apartheid. The best section by far for me is the beginning where black Malawian, Stanwell, crashes his pickup and is illegally cared back to health by a white family and in particular by Elsa (23). The tension is palpable and a marvellous introduction to the girl as she had only just arrived at the house for a job interview and up to this point had not really clicked with Lydia, the lady of the house. I immediately relished a personal connection when Elsa mentioned her namesake was the lion in the book and film, Born Free. I met Joy Adamson in the library in Cheltenham, UK when she gave a talk to us kids in the early 1960s.There is much to praise in the writing style of The Zebra Affaire with respect to settings and description. Colours, smells and action are all there along with sounds, eg ‘The thunderstorm roiled across the Highveld plateau like the marauding Zulu impi on the warpath... lightning’s vivid scar.’ Sometimes the descriptions borders on being too purple but the reader is left in no doubt where they are and what is happening. The characters, too, are vivid as are their backgrounds. Sometimes there is too much backstory although I understand the need to lay out the rationale for their behaviour. I liked the way the narrative matches the character. For example the gutsy captain of industry, DGF, has his scholastic background summed by his school motto: Forti Nihil Difficilius*, which ‘filled him with the piss and vinegar to take on the world’. Talking of one of those attributes I relate to Elsa saying how when she peed in a remote part of the bush it was probable no one had ever peed there before and this gave the moment a special thrill. I do the same at ancient places—not the peeing but just to find a niche, say a far-flung corner of Gozo’s Ggantija and put my toe on it savouring the notion no one had stood there for thousands of years. I would have edited The Zebra Affaire differently. One issue is Point of View (POV). Too often the POV head hops and sometimes with no section breaks. Having said that I enjoyed the POV swap to the dog early on with: ‘An uncomfortable tension descended over the charming tea party. Leo sensed the shift in the wind, got up, stretched, circled a few times, glanced cautiously at the two women, and then settled back down at the same spot with an empathetic sigh.’ Another issue is the relative lack of concern by these influential white families flagrantly breaking the apartheid laws and behaving all sweet and nice to Elsa and Stanwell. In fact there seemed to be no real conflict tugging at the reader until about halfway through when, thank goodness, evil in the guise of a bigoted Security Branch Agent tackles the niceness head on in his brutal way. The last half of the novel becomes grittier as a result and reflects that bit more what most readers want to find in such settings. I would liken aspects of this book to that Booker winner, Disgrace by JM Coetzee, which, instead, is set in post-apartheid South Africa but is jammed with the racial tensions black on white and vice versa. I wonder if Mark Fine nods homage to that masterpiece by naming a secretary as Ms Coetzee?The author explains his rationale for using sectioned-off italics as mini-encyclopaedias. I can imagine his editors fighting this solution, as would I. Even if some readers didn’t know the details of what Marmite is, or the history of South Africa was, I don’t think a novel is the right place to inform, especially as when the italics end the narrative often remains in the info-dumping. If the author feels there is a need he could have had appendices. The editing guru, famous for his ‘Hunting down the pleonasms’, says there’s never a need for Tell no matter what the genre. However, a little information can help but here I fear it is far too much.In spite of the info-dump overload, I can recommend this novel. It is Romeo & Juliet meets To Kill A Mocking Bird; it has many touching moments; and embracing a difficult period with aplomb. The title is particularly apt and I found several nuances in the plot that relate to it superbly.*For the brave, nothing is too difficult. Jeppe High School for Boys, Johannesburg

  • Ester Shifren
    2019-04-13 16:53

    Mark Fine’s “The Zebra Affaire” is a remarkable, across-the-color-bar, love story set in 1976, during the depths and despair of the shamefully restrictive and cruel Apartheid era—a dark period in South African history. Fine’s unusual style successfully intersperses his story with well-researched, italicized “footnotes,” that could be called “Anywherenotes,” that give you full insight into the history and prevailing status of the ruling Afrikaner party’s inflexible, unrelenting grip on the country.Fine gently weaves the story of how, through unusual circumstances, Elsa, a white Afrikaner girl, and Stanwell, a black man from Malawi, meet and fall in “forbidden” love. He describes in exquisite detail the lengths they go to, with dangerous consequences if discovered, to pursue their hopes of being together as normal, accepted lovers. Fine keeps you on the edge of your seat with the unimaginable obstacles they encounter along the way!During the Apartheid era love across-the-color-line was strictly forbidden and was dealt with harshly by Security Branch officers. Intimidation and sadistic cruelty meted out during interrogations at John Vorster Square, for any perceived transgressions, is well documented. Dissenting individuals experienced extreme punitive measures, including torture, murder, and, in some instances, unaccountable and mysterious disappearances, or staged “suicides.” The ruling National Party, the Broederbond, and the formidable and bigoted hierarchy of the dominant Dutch Reformed Church were much despised and feared by all, but the close knit Afrikaner community, who considered themselves “superior and pure.” Sometimes, rather than suffer at the hands of the Security Branch, individuals favored hasty departures from South Africa and many years of self-imposed exile.Fine points out clearly how South Africans were denied access to television until the mid-seventies, and all content was strictly censored. The flawed and narrow-minded Government banned many great works of art and literature, including “Black Beauty,” the wonderful children’s book about a horse. An illiterate, lazy official, obviously without reading it, found the “black” in its title offensive!The African population, though far out-numbering the privileged white, and other minorities, had few domicile choices and endured miserable living conditions, punishing poverty, and violence in tin-shanty townships and gold-mine compounds. Getting to work daily from the townships meant enduring, without respite, thick smog and weather extremes while standing in long bus-lines in the darkest, earliest hours of morning, and returning home late in the evening.Having lived in South Africa myself for 36 years, from 1957, I can appreciate how well researched and well-written Mark’s “The Zebra Affaire” is. He has penned the “Silent Scream” that I, and many South Africans endured while watching the Afrikaner Regime systematically destroy the country we loved. I highly recommend “The Zebra Affaire,” as a “must read” for anyone who, besides reading a great love story, wants a clear picture of South Africa’s Apartheid days, and history. I’m looking forward to reading more from this excellent author.

  • Mark Fine
    2019-04-05 11:47

    WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT "THE ZEBRA AFFAIRE" "I just finished reading this book and it's truly a masterpiece on so many levels. As a South African who left S.A. in the late 70's, I can attest to the authenticity of Mr. Fine's historical and social facts, as well as life as it existed there at that time... It is a beautiful, heartfelt and very complete love story of the "no-no" kind, written magnificently by Mark Fine." ILANA EDELSTEIN Author, "The Patron Way""I see Pulitzer Prize material here. This is fascinating history--with such insight that I've been thinking of the common ground Southerners from the US has shared with South Africans. This (novel) is fantastic, relevant, and an incredible contribution to literature, history, anthropology, and all of the humanities. Mark Fine is brave and brilliant." JEANNE MARY ALLEN Author & Writer"The Zebra Affaire is a fast-paced, suspenseful tale about the racial divide in the police state of South Africa. The story involves a mixed race relationship during apartheid, riots, tribes at war and the horrors of an unfair and unyielding society. It's the kind of page turner that some of us devour hungrily, anxious for the next thrilling bite." CAROL CASSARA Book Recommendations to Warm You"In the best tradition of historical fiction, Fine has woven the story of several intriguing individuals into the larger fabric of a troubled time. In this case, a biracial couple's story is at the center of late 1970s apartheid South Africa. Fine has a flair for detailed descriptions (and) brings his experience of growing up in South Africa to the page with clarity and conviction." BRAD AUERBACH, Entertainment Today The Zebra Affaire Mark Fine

  • Valaree
    2019-04-06 16:33

    I adore how author Mark Fine weaves "anywhere notes" into the text of Zebra Affaire. Great idea! It's so irritating flipping to the back of a book to check on extended explanations. These "notes" are so perfectly placed! And...Fine has predicted exactly where a reader might be confused or question something. I so frequently find myself putting down a book to google research something that piqued my curiosity instead of zipping through it racing to the finish. ZA's "notes" make it so much more meaningful while still keeping the fluidity of the story....especially regarding the complicated subject matter of which Fine writes. Living in So California my whole life, I now realize I had no concrete idea of what was actually happening in the distant world of So Africa. Thank you Mark Fine for doing a brilliant job enlightening me! I hope more authors follow your lead with "anywhere notes"!

  • Alan Cook
    2019-04-11 13:40

    This book overlaps several genres. It is partly a steamy romance between a black man and a white woman, which was forbidden during the years of apartheid in the Republic of South Africa. It is also partly a history book that explains how apartheid came to be and how it was enforced by the National Party from 1948 to 1994. The historic explanations helped me to understand the story, and how dangerous the course followed by Elsa and Stanwell is when they violate the law of the land. Fortunately, they have supporters, but individuals cannot stand against the government in this time of turmoil. As I've said before, those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat its mistakes. We need to be knowledgeable about the past.

  • Dave Adair
    2019-04-12 16:54

    I am thrilled to have come across the Zebra Affaire by Mark Fine. First, it is a remarkable love story with pages turning easily and frequently. Mark’s writing style flows nicely and kept me engaged without going too deeply into the setting. The narrative is excellent and the descriptive language was not overdone.Mostly, the book educated me to the horrors and nearly unbelievable societal darkness of South Africa in the 1970s. In America, we tend to see news of racial and ethnic atrocities though a sanitized lens in short snippets on the television, or though brief newspaper headlines. Mark brings the realities to life by bringing us inside the minds and relationship s of some very real characters.Kudos to Mark on a great job. Highly recommended.

  • Urenna Sander
    2019-04-16 18:02

    Interspersed throughout the novel, the author weaves information concerning Afrikaans and their laws effecting South Africa’s indigenous people. This is important for readers who have not read a novel concerning South Africa. The author gives his opinion of some of the Afrikaaners’ character traits. He gave the nub for their standpoint with other Europeans—the British and the French (Huguenots). Their language did not develop like the European Dutch. Although culturally insecure, Afrikaaners were autonomous during their rule. They believed in independence from other European countries. They regulated the behavior of their citizens concerning apartheid. They were boycotted by other African nations. They feared the Chinese and Communists getting a foothold in South Africa. They kept South Africans separated in three groups, the indigenous natives, the coloreds and the whites.In 1976, 18 years prior to the end of apartheid, for the first time ever, the South African government conceded to televisions being seen in their Republic. Former Malawian, Stanwell Marunda, and Elsa “Kat” Marais met by accident. By a quirk of fate, Stanwell crashed his delivery truck filled with televisions for the affluent residents of Sandton. Elsa, a 23-year-old, Dutch farmer’s daughter, visited the home of her boss’s wife, Englishwoman, Lydia Duncan, of Sandton. Both women heatedly discussed their view of the Anglo-Boer war until they heard the din outside the home.Stanwell’s face and head had shattered the windshield. Splintered glass bore into his face and eyelids. In addition, he received a lacerated tongue and broken ribs. An omnipresent South African government dictated stringent laws preventing whites associating with Black South Africans. Therefore, residents and passersby ignored the motor accident victim. A Whites-only ambulance arrived, but the attendants refused to provide transportation.Elsa found herself in a dilemma. Should she aid an injured Black South African or defy the law? Rejecting the strict law, Elsa removed a trapped Stanwell from the truck. Lydia contacted Dr. Weitz; a physician not deterred by race or creed. He assessed Stanwell’s condition and suggested Stanwell be brought to his office, after dark.Lydia’s husband, Stanley Duncan, drove the injured victim and the women to Dr. Weitz for Stanwell’s surgery. Post-surgery, the Duncan’s provided Stanwell a temporary room in their guest house. Elsa agreed to look after an anesthetized Stanwell.Early on, Elsa realized her attraction to Stanwell. She seduced him one day after his surgery. A free-thinking, unbridled Elsa straddled Stanwell when he was one day post-op, not heeding the consequences. Afterwards, an almost cringing Stanwell apologized. Elsa replied, “Don’t be silly.”Several weeks later, Elsa pursued Stanwell, with the pretense of returning his watch. After that, a liaison developed between them.I expected Stanwell to be fired concerning the car accident, But Stanwell’s boss, Daniel G. Firth, known, as DGF, appeared very forgiving concerning the incident. None of the television sets were broken.Daniel’s character stood out more than Elsa and Stanwell’s. An extrovert, Daniel appeared to be a maverick, not easily intimidated. Daniel had his own cross to bear growing up. His father didn’t like him and he suffered anti-Semitism in school.I believe Daniel identified with Stanwell’s plight. He thought Stanwell bright, loyal and hardworking. Therefore, he offered him a supervisory position in his company when unlawful to do so. I expected and incident. Surprisingly, there was no retribution when Daniel favored Stanwell. In addition, Daniel and the Duncan’s provided retreats for Elsa and Stanwell’s rendezvous.The antagonist is Malan Zander, Security Branch Man, a merciless, unfeeling government enforcer. Like all Afrikaaners, he feared the threat of the indigenous people taking back their land. He made life difficult for the lovers.The fundamentalist National Party (NP) controlled South Africa at that time and distrusted Liberalists, the British and indigenous natives. Elsa had shown unswerving loyalty for the National Party until she met Stanwell.During the seventies, South Africa’s now defunct Sexual Offenses Act, meted out seven years imprisonment for a sexual affair between whites and non-whites. Therefore, Elsa’s character amazed me. She had an overt interest in sex with a man who could be put to death. She could easily deny the relationship and announce she was raped.In researching, I read that during the apartheid era, if you were in such an illicit relationship, police raided your home and confiscated your sheets as evidence. In addition, my stomach roiled at the oppressive, harsh and unusually cruel treatment meted out by the former government, who felt they had a divine right to rule the indigenous people.Once the relationship got underway, both appeared unafraid to incur danger. Nothing impeded their desire—they took chances. Sex cannot sustain a relationship, but Stanwell and Elsa were unable to enjoy joint recreational activities like other couples. I question why the couple didn’t have a lot of dialogue. They didn’t discuss their aspirations, families or friends. I admire the author’s writing and appreciate his brief history of South Africa.Stanwell’s boss, Daniel, appeared the most likeable and four-dimensional character. There should have been more information on Stanwell and Elsa. Disappointingly, Daniel gave up his company and migrated to London to start a new company. Why didn’t he offer Stanwell a job there? I could not connect with Elsa. I thought her behavior selfish. Maybe it’s because of her “dangerous liaison” with Stanwell. Elsa appeared liberal. She questioned the behavior and life of her parents, compared to her former nanny, Rose, who lived in a one-room flat behind her parents’ home.It’s understood Stanwell, a peaceful, mild-mannered human being, had a difficult life in South Africa. He had once worked in the mines and sometimes was embroiled in unwanted tribal factions.I question why the author provided no thoughts on Stanwell’s initial tryst with Elsa. In his tribe, the men were dominant. Because of Elsa’s skin color was he too fearful to protest or did he acquiesce out of fear or desire for her? Did he have emotional attachments with another woman in his tribe? What is the plot concerning Elsa and Stanwell? I found the lovers did have a connection concerning their residences. Elsa hated Hillbrow. She feared the area after dark with its night crime and European drunks. Stanwell feared Soweto, especially on payday. A man could lose his life over a few dollars.In a relationship like this, although they took chances, their deep-seated fears were getting caught by authorities. What other fears did they have? How did they feel about the events surrounding their lives, such as the daily racism, apartheid, and deaths of a people? The indigenous people were uprooted from their homes in the seventies. Those who spoke out about the indignities and murders were jailed, and/or injected with poisons. Were Elsa and Stanwell truly in love or just in the heat of the moment during an unacceptable time?

  • Anita Kovacevic
    2019-03-27 12:32

    Reality+romance = relevanceThis book came highly recommended and I put off reading it till I knew I had stopped having expectations. Preconceived expectations are never a good thing. The apartheid topic is one I don't gravitate towards, because it still shocks me too much that people could and can be narrow-minded enough to judge others by skin colour, instead of character. I just get too emotional and enfuriated.This story is two-fold. One is the social romance fiction based on historical events, and the other is the author's account of the historical account, which is not fiction but interpreting and explaining the past. You may appreciate this or not, but the author forewarns you that it is your choice and how to watch out for it. The historical background account is certainly useful for those unacquainted with the socio-political situation, although the rest of my review will refer to the fictional part and author's style. It is absolutely impossible to look at the storyline by taking it outside its historical context, but it is equally impossible to review politics here.The characters, plot, emotions, descriptions are all reminiscent of the great movies from the golden ages of Hollywood, and you can easily picture someone like Grace Kelly playing Elsa, or Sidney Poitier playing Stanwell. Though at times I did wish there was more conversation between Elsa and Stanwell themselves, the scene with the beaded 'love letter' makes up for all the words. The implications of tradition in contrast with their rule-breaking speaks in abundance. However, despite this romantic duo, my favourite character is DGF -- sort of love at first read, for so many reasons. Malan Zander, on the other hand, made me want ot leave the book as soon as he appeared, not for bad writing, but for hitting too close to home - the puny souls, abusing power every chance they get, are all too painfully realistic, regardless of time and culture. An entire tapestry of characters is well-displayed as you follow the battle of interracial romance with the world paralysed with bigotry and inhumane politics.The wording is really rich, intricately written, with quite a few local expressions adding to the overall atmosphere and understanding of the two worlds melded into one. The style is consistent throughout, the syntax quite complex and vocabulary exuberant, and the topic absolutely noteworthy. The fact that the author actually lived in such surroundings and times exudes additional credibility. The contrast between the descriptions of Stanwell's cursed mines and the media frenzy surrounding Formula 1 and fashion is excellently written, and leaves a striking impression on the reader, enhancing the depiction of injustice and inequality. As the story progresses and nears its ending, the analogies with the wilderness become stronger and serve the story impeccably.The author does not limit himself only to displaying the brutality of racism, but other forms of tragic prejudice - mysoginist, antisemitic, bullying the weak, misguided and misdirected tiny lords with legal power. What a grand race humans could be, if we weren't so puny sometimes! Nevertheless, Mark Fine shows very clearly there are no clear lines between the good and the bad, and it is not money, status or skin colour which makes us good or bad, but our nature. Family, loyalty, friendship, respect and love go beyond any limits and matter the most.The Zebra Affaire is an old-fashioned, romantic but not deluded, vintage-like tale which is not to be rushed in and cannot be rushed. If you are looking for fast-paced, cliffhanger thrillers with wild erotic scenes, you might not find everything you are looking for in this book. If you are looking for a book that makes you think, and engages your sense of humanity, culture, history and language, this is one of the great ones you will enjoy. The writing here reminded me of music - this might not be something you dance to, but something you listen to carefully and in peace. There is much to be learned from such art.

  • Mark Fine
    2019-03-24 10:48

    WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT "THE ZEBRA AFFAIRE" "I found the writing style superb and descriptive, in both the characters and the story. Reading it was often like watching a movie, it was that well written. I absolutely did not expect the ending -- I actually cried out loud when I read it. All in all, I would highly recommend this!" KAREN WITH A KINDLE"An Instant Classic full of Depth, Empathy and Compassion! Two pages into reading The Zebra Affaire - the new, fast-paced historical novel by Mark Fine - I knew I wouldn't be putting it down. I instantly connected with his beautifully rendered characters cast against the violence-torn and riveting backdrop of South Africa at the height of apartheid. Few novels have given this reader so much rich material from which to conjure evocative images of diverse peoples and cultures, and strong empathy for their life and death struggles." SPENCER NILSEN"Love has no boundaries, it doesn’t matter whether you are Black or White. Love can make one walk through fire, exactly what happened with Stanwell and Elsa. They put their lives at risk when they tasted the forbidden fruit, a black man going out with a white woman. There! Mark Fine exposed South Africa in the 1970’s." MOLLY GAMBIZA"I first heard about The Zebra Affaire through a reading circle. It was hailed as a book that must be read, as it was in one word ‘spectacular!’ However, as I turned the final page it was evident that ‘spectacular’ was too banal a description. The Zebra Affaire is rhapsody of words, a masterpiece movement that flits between high and low notes creating emotions tumultuous and terrifying; loving and compassionate. It is obvious that Mr Fine has an acute understanding of the human condition." MICHELLE NORA MEDHAT, Author "I highly recommend this lush and beautifully written story. Mar Fine’s use of words is akin to an artist’s use of the palette; this is not a black and white story, this is a rainbow story with the rich colors of lives in turmoil. In a word, it is brilliant. It is not often a book as intensely dazzling as “The Zebra Affaire” comes along. If I could rate it higher I would do so." ELIZABETH HORTON-NEWTON, Author "RIDDLE" "I just finished reading this book and it's truly a masterpiece on so many levels. As a South African who left S.A. in the late 70's, I can attest to the authenticity of Mr. Fine's historical and social facts, as well as life as it existed there at that time... It is a beautiful, heartfelt and very complete love story of the "no-no" kind, written magnificently by Mark Fine." ILANA EDELSTEIN, Author "The Patron Way""I see Pulitzer Prize material here. This is fascinating history--with such insight that I've been thinking of the common ground Southerners from the US has shared with South Africans. This (novel) is fantastic, relevant, and an incredible contribution to literature, history, anthropology, and all of the humanities. Mark Fine is brave and brilliant." JEANNE MARY ALLEN Author & Writer"The Zebra Affaire is a fast-paced, suspenseful tale about the racial divide in the police state of South Africa. The story involves a mixed race relationship during apartheid, riots, tribes at war and the horrors of an unfair and unyielding society. It's the kind of page turner that some of us devour hungrily, anxious for the next thrilling bite." CAROL CASSARA Book Recommendations to Warm You"In the best tradition of historical fiction, Fine has woven the story of several intriguing individuals into the larger fabric of a troubled time. In this case, a biracial couple's story is at the center of late 1970s apartheid South Africa. Fine has a flair for detailed descriptions (and) brings his experience of growing up in South Africa to the page with clarity and conviction." BRAD AUERBACH, Entertainment Today

  • Neil Newton
    2019-03-20 15:39

    The Zebra Affaire by Mark FineThis is a book that anyone should read, especially those of us who know little about the apartheid régime that formerly had a choke hold on the people, politics, and social structure of South Africa. One of the tasks of books that describe one of the many “holocausts” we have experienced around the world is to adequately convey the horror of living under a sadistic and morally bankrupt form of government. Mark Fine delivers this to his readers and much more.Each story of this type is a critical cautionary tale to maintain our awareness that “it could happen here”, something that requires our vigilance. Though many Americans heard quite a bit about apartheid in the news much of it was comprised of sound bytes and “digestable” morsels of fact; that is the nature of news throughout the world when it comes to stories that don’t directly affect a particular nation’s well-being.Through Mr. Fine’s book I was skillfully immersed in an entirely unexpected level of pure hell that shocked me. Through the experiences of Stanwell Marunda and Elsa Marais the disturbing structure of apartheid is revealed. Most basic to the story is fact that Stanwell is black and Elsa Marais is a white Afrikaner. Stanwell, who has come to find work in Johannesburg falls in love with Elsa who is a member of the dominant group in the country. The Afrikaners are the authors of apartheid and their “law” forbids relationships between blacks and whites, except those of master and servant.We begin the story with a jarring revelation for those not familiar with apartheid. Stanwell has just experienced a potentially fatal car crash. Lying on the ground, feeling his life ebb, Stanwell is aided by Elsa and a British woman. While the outcome of the situation would be obvious to most of us, taking Stanwell to the hospital, in apartheid South Africa there is a draconian obstacle: Stanwell is black, making it impossible for him to be taken to a “whilte” hospital. The only legal alternative is for him to be brought to a substandard, brutal, “black” hospital where Stanwell is likely to die.And so begins a chain of events that forces Stanwell, Elsa and their friends to consistently skirt the harsh laws of apartheid to allow them to stay together. Mark Fine creates a fascinating and compelling story, written on a broad canvas of South African history that includes the conflicts between tribes, the formation of apartheid and many small details of the nation’s cultural mosaic.In many ways, though the characters and their experience affect the reader, “The Zebra Affaire” is a historical testament to the clash of cultures that characterizes world history. Not only does he describe the major players in apartheid but he includes, through his characters, Jewish emigres, Americans and British. The point at which all these groups come together is the focus of Mr. Fine’s book and the effect is moving.The experience of his main characters is tragic. The book’s compelling nature comes from its sense of foreboding; early in the book I had a feeling that something bad was going to happen. Fine keeps you hooked as he builds up tension with incredible skill. But this is not a thriller, the characters are victims of real pain and sorrow. As a result, the reader feels far more personal association with the characters then you would find in a standard story.I would recommend this book to anyone, especially those fascinated by history and diaspora. There are lessons in Mark Fine’s book for anyone who does not want history to repeat itself.Neil Newton: Author of “The Railroad” on Amazon

  • Eric Gates
    2019-03-29 16:46

    Many years ago I found myself literally immersed, in every sensorial possibility, in a book set in Africa. Long before Hollywood placed its sugar-coated paws on Karen Blixen’s ‘Out of Africa’, I encountered the novel on the sparsely populated shelves of the house I was staying at in Nairobi. A couple of days later, fate took me to the ‘farm in Africa’ she spoke about and an indelible memory was born; reading about the life and tribulations of this intriguing character whilst sitting outside her house in the Kenyan hills. I thought that instant of my life would never be repeated, despite incessant travelling over the years. I was wrong.Mark Fine’s ‘The Zebra Affaire’ sparked a similar sentiment. It should be noted I have never visited South Africa, yet his prose took me there, placing me on the streets of Jo’burg as though I had known it all my life. Yet the magic of Fine’s novel did not end there. Not content with transporting me in space to that distant land, he also successfully sought to send me back through time, to the cruel, unreasoning days of Apartheid. This book told two tales. First, the bitter-sweet song of love between the white Afrikaner, Elsa, and the Malawian, Stanwell Marunda. The story encouraged hope, in a period when everything was stacked against a mixed relationship, and its telling reflected many parables of the times in which the characters’ lived, the mid 1970’s. The second story, far harsher because it was reality, consisted in the notes inserted in the narrative by the author. Here he gave depth to the fictional tale, painting its backdrop with unerring clarity and perceptiveness, whilst providing the anchors those of us who had only experienced the events back then through news footage from the comfort of faraway shores. This combination must have been a difficult choice for the author in what is in essence a novel, yet it totally works. The incidents in the life of Elsa and Stanwell led support to the readers’ understanding of the real events, and vice versa.For me, this book sits proudly alongside Blixen’s autobiographical tales; a worthy recounting of a time and place rife with lessons for all. If I could, I would give it six stars!

  • Jenny Blossom
    2019-03-25 14:51

    I got a book written by Mark Fine yesterday about living in South Africa during the year I was born. It’s called “The Zebra Affaire”. I must apologize to any and all I have plans with in the next 24 hours because I am cancelling… as I can't stop reading this for a proper critique. I'm on the second round of reading, and this novel blows my mind. Anyone who wants to talk smack about indie writers needs to meet Mark Fine. Also, I am a harsh critic of wordsmiths, as I should be, and I am tiresome in my line by line analysis. My message to author Mark Fine, “as of now, I cannot say you should change a thing."This is a beautiful, poignant story. It made me want to keep reading, and that is so important. This is fascinating history— with such insight that I’ve been thinking of the common ground Southerners from the US has shared with South Africans. This novel is fantastic, relevant, and an incredible contribution to literature, history, anthropology, and all of the humanities because of how meaningful it is, but also because it is written with such elegance and sensitivity to providing "the whole picture of sights, smells, sounds, and inner worlds of the characters”. History provides context and understanding how events unfolded in the past, sociology creates a science of predictable group behaviors, but literature - fiction as much as or more than creative non-fiction - takes us to the hearts of those who are only alive in the past. It is crucial to the evolution of peaceful humanity, and this book is already obviously going to make a lot of people who were once blind now able to see things they could not even comprehend before reading “The Zebra Affaire”. Mark Fine is brave and brilliant. Only an idiot would fail to see the significance of what he’s written. No need for idiots in Mark Fine’s corner.

  • Claire Stibbe
    2019-03-30 14:37

    A beautiful story that weaves together two distinctive lives. The first thing that struck me about this novel was Fine’s staggering research. The authenticity of his writing helps to immerse us into the environment one character at a time. I immediately became hooked by Stanwell’s world, his frugal background where a makeshift shanty, poor sanitation and overcrowding is called home. It’s hard to separate oneself from the abject poverty and it’s impossible to compare it to Lydia’s grand estate with Wedgewood china teacups and a silver tea service. I like the way Fine handles the cultural differences between Afrikaners and their hatred towards the British in such an enlightening and poetic tone. It’s a page-turner because we want to know what happens to Stanwell in these tragic opening chapters. We meet Elsa, a young woman of natural beauty, sensitive to the ever changing world around her. Since Nanny Rose and Thabo have been part of her life, and not just part, influential in her education, she has an affinity towards those at the so-called bottom of the food chain. White people have ‘enjoyed a disproportionate share of the wealth’ and have taken the greater share of the land for themselves. This amongst the stringent apartheid laws brings a conflict so heinous, it’s hard not to root for poor Elsa in this brutal dilemma. The Zebra Affaire is a moving story that takes the reader through Elsa’s struggles and the injustices of the regime. Not only will readers find themselves engaged in her personal story, but also that of Stanwell, the man she loves. You’ll be glad you discovered this gem and you will be rewarded by a courageous love story in stark black and white.

  • Florian Rochat
    2019-03-27 17:37

    « The Zebra Affaire » is one of those rare books that can be read as well as a fiction as a history work, with a heartbreaking love story conveying the reality of an odious political regime : the apartheid. That separation between races was worse than communism : after all, the Berlin wall separated the free people of West Germany from the imprisoned ones of the East, but at least, the latter were said to be « equals ».Mark Fine is passionnate about his native country and I was impressed by the depth of his research. Of course, he pays tribute to Nelson Mandela, prisoner # 46 664, who after being liberated on February 11th in 1990, after spending 27 years in jail ( !!!) worked a miracle together with the last white president of South Africa, Frederik de Klerk : a smooth transition toward democracy that avoided a dreaded civil war after decades of institutionnal hatred.Today, SouthAfrica stands as a respectable country in the community of nations. Yet poverty and violence are still widespread-an unfortunate but clear legacy of its former regime. But love across color barriers can be accepted there for what it is -simply love- and no more to be judged nor condemned, and this is a great victory.Which comes full circle with the prelude of « The Zebra Affaire », quoting Nelson Mandela : « No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love come morer naturally to the human heart than its opposite. »[Florian Rochat, author of "The Legend of Little Eagle"]

  • Ulla
    2019-04-14 14:47

    A spell-bounding novel, fascinating history!I was blown away by this brilliant historical fiction so beautifully told by South African novelist Mark Fine. I didn’t know enough about South Africa in the 70’s and looked forward to read The Zebra Affair, hoping to learn something from it. I soon realized I had come to the right place. Mark Fine has a deep understanding of the history, racism and tribalism in South Africa and tells his story in eloquent language and in a voice full of love for his country and its peoples. What a pleasure to learn from such a wise man. The story moves quickly, and instead of using footnotes, short sections in italics are inserted into the storyline to clarify important related history. This type of “footnote” proved to be easier to read than having to go to the bottom of the page to read something in a tiny font. But not only that, I soon realized these notes were filled with fascinating information, closely related to the storyline. Brilliant! The diverse backgrounds of the main characters, Elsa and her lover Stanwell, are told in vivid detail. You get to know them, admire and care for them as Mark Fine tells about their forbidden love affair with warmth and understanding (Elsa is white, Stanwell is black). The book is filled with intriguing characters, good and evil, including the truly horrifying antagonist, Malan Zander, a maniac consumed with hate, bent on destroying Elsa and Stanwell. The drama of the story, heightened by the vibrant settings, sounds and smells, will stay with me for a long time. The ending was very charged and very clever. Bravo, Mark Fine. I highly recommend this book.

  • David Jarrett
    2019-04-03 13:58

    The Zebra Affaire blends history and romance in a story about two people, one black and one white, who fall in love in 1976 South Africa during the apartheid regime. It is a beautifully written book by an author who not only has a suburb vocabulary and command of the English language, but also has lived in South Africa during this period of history and knows his subject first-hand. The prose is rich, almost too much so for a genre novel. As a reviewer, I would place it in the class of a literary work, and a very good one. The characters are well developed, and each of them fits nicely into the niche he or she was intended to fill. The narration is very detailed, almost too much so in some cases, and greatly slows the pace of the book, so if the reader is expecting a story similar to something Robert Ruark or Wilbur Smith might have written, he will be disappointed. There is very little action in the book. Its appeal lies in the characterizations and the fictional description of real historical events. The author, Mark Fine, is obviously passionate about his subject, and is not shy about expressing his own social and political views through the narration and the actions of the characters he creates in the work, but this in no way detracts from the reading experience. You may not agree with his stance on every issue, but you must respect the manner in which he presents them in this work. It is a worthwhile read as long as you are not expecting, as you might be led by the description, a thriller.

  • Ted Tayler
    2019-03-21 15:47

    "A love story with a timeless history lesson for everyone"Elsa and Stanwell carry on an illicit love affair in a South Africa that is still in the inhuman grip of apartheid. Their love retains an innocence despite the turmoil their relationship causes. This book mixes historical fact and romance to produce a stunning image of life in South Africa in the 1970s. Mark Fine manages to seamlessly weave the multi-racial love story into the very fabric of the country's history. If you want to learn about the relevance of events from the end of the nineteenth century and the Boer and Zulu Wars, right through to today, then this book provides you with all the markers along the way. After you read 'The Zebra Affaire' everything will be in context. Using this device was a master stroke. The descriptive passages of the townships, the bush, the goldmines and life in the privileged white community were expertly handled. With the brush strokes of an accomplished painter, the author reveals the landscape - the background to his story throughout -a harsh country populated with wild animals and stubborn, violent people of different colours and creeds. Through it all Elsa and Stanwell's love shines undiminished. Nothing can extinguish the flame.

  • Pamela Crane
    2019-04-10 12:59

    “The Zebra Affaire” draws readers deep into the 1970s, breathing new life into South African history, while delivering a poignant tale of Elsa and her forbidden love affair with Stanwell. Using fine strokes, Mark Fine paints a masterful portrait of the trials of blended romance during a period tense with racial discrimination. Fighting for their tortured love, Elsa and Stanwell face obstacles that threaten their lives as the apartheid government sets to make an example of the couple and tribal schisms come to a head, thus building a taste for the thriller plot elements amidst the budding romance. Yet a happy ending for all seems unlikely as personal agendas fuel the hatred against the union of socialite supermodel Elsa and domestic servant Stanwell. Fine doesn’t merely craft a story of unbidden romance, but a historical lesson touched with rhapsodic prose while addressing rising political tensions. More than a fiction story, “The Zebra Affaire” is a treatise against racial discrimination, a compelling challenge in support of love against the social tides.

  • Benedict Martin
    2019-04-05 09:44

    This is a special book. It's not only moving, but I learned a lot as well. I was just a kid when South Africa was experiencing apartheid, and didn't really understand what exactly was happening with that country. Mr. Fine manages to explain so many things about South Africa's social and political systems through a love story set in the 1970s. And smoothly, too. His attention to detail is remarkable. I can't imagine the research required to create something so complete.The love story itself is beautifully told. You have two characters, from two different worlds, and despite the systems in place to keep them apart, they find each other, their forbidden love blossoming into something truly remarkable.This is one of those rare books that, now that I've read it, has me wanting to ask the author a whole list of questions. What were his inspirations? Where did his characters come from? Were they based on real people? Did he have a time machine to get all those little 1970s details just right? Again, this is a special book, and I recommend it to every adult who can read.

  • Judy's Homegrown
    2019-04-04 15:38

    A story like this can only come from a native South African. With aplomb and affection, the author describes his characters, the animals in the wild, scenes from the bush, the gold mines, geography, and neighborhoods. The author's knowledge of the political strife between two types of Afrikaners from the Netherlands, the resident British, and the indigenous tribes educated me about their conflicts in a way no textbook could.Though young Elsa and Stanwell's romance remains the thread of the novel, it's the minor characters who have depth and authenticity, maturity and complexity. I felt myself rooting for them, caring about them, and wanting them to succeed despite the danger of changing regimes.Music and wild animals populate the story with metaphors that add richness to the whole. I found myself traveling to South Africa, becoming part of a long-gone past, while still feeling sadness for Africa's racial and tribal problems. This is an excellent read for those who like historical fiction at its best.

  • Malka
    2019-03-20 17:40

    Mark Fine’s novel “The Zebra Affaire” is an epic love story set against South Africa’s unjust apartheid. Elsa and Stanwell play the star-crossed lovers, brought together by circumstance and fallen in love by choice. So many things that lovers take for granted, Elsa and Stanwell long for. Their love story is a strong defiance against the apartheid. With a strong cast of characters, vivid details, and rich in historical facts, this book was an epic ride through South Africa’s tumultuous apartheid era. The author does a great job of bringing the characters to life. There was a lot of backstory involved, but it was necessary to validate the characters’ choices and actions. It makes sense to have this in a novel that deals with something as ugly as racism and oppression. Read the rest of my review here: