Read Ancestral Voices by Etienne van Heerden Online


The Moolmans are a tribe who have long since learned how to deal with their own. Parents cut children out of their lives, shunt them aside to live as step-children, scrag-ends of the clan, or as city dwellers whose names are never uttered....

Title : Ancestral Voices
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780140122145
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 260 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Ancestral Voices Reviews

  • Robert
    2019-05-15 23:46

    There’s nothing worse than a reading slump and when you commit yourself to a project like this they inevitably happen. It is impossible to like something that you don’t feel like reading and from Matigari onwards (with the exception of Watchmen) this was happening. Unfortunately I’ve experienced this slump with every decade I’ve tackled and I’m waiting for at least one decade where I love every single book.However once you get out of the slump it’s a great feeling. There was some light shining with The Beautiful Mrs. Seidenman but now with Ancestral Voices I think the only way is upwards.The is a family saga, much in the same line as both Garcia Marquez and Steinbeck. This means that there are elements of magic realism mixed with moments of stark realism. Oh yes there’s a character who shares my surname (Pisani) and considering that the book takes place in South Africa, I was greatly surprised to see this!As I said the setting takes place in South Africa , on a farmland which has been owned by the Moolmans for a century. During these hundred years there have been killings, rebellions and ex communicated family members. The tragedy begins when one of the grandchildren falls down a boorhole and then shot in the process and a magistrate has to visit this family in order to see who is the culprit.Due to the largeness of the Moolman’s this magistrate has to inspect the whole family tree and comes across some nasty surprises.Murder mystery aside (we do find out who the killer is) van Heerdeen is presenting a South Africa where Apartheid is rife and mentalities are still to be adhered to, in fact the banished members of the family are the ones who went against convention and mingled with Africans. One character in the novel who fights for rights is seen as the biggest traitor of the Moolmans. So this is quite political, although it’s quite disguised in the beginning.My only gripe about this book is that it is out of print, surely a novel of this magnitude should be widely available. Sometimes I don’t understand.

  • Adam
    2019-04-27 19:34

    This intriguing and excellent novel is set in the remote countryside of South Africa, far from the big cities. It was written during, and concerns the Apartheid era.The family tree printed at the beginning of the book is of great importance to the tale and its comprehension. During my investigations into my family's South African 'roots', I soon discovered that genealogy is a major preoccupation of the Afrikaner people. And, so it is in this novel, which is based on the activities (past and present) of the Moolman and Riet families. The Riet family, otherwise known as the 'shame family', is a branch of the Moolman family that is tainted in the eyes of the Moolmans because some (non-white) African blood flows in their veins. The Riets have mixed African-Dutch roots.The Moolmans own land on the Toorberg, a mountainous area that they tamed and which was rich in springs when they first occupied it. When the water supply begins to fail badly and the water dowser is finding it difficult to detect underground water, Abel Moolman, the paterfamilias, buys a mechanised drilling machine to drill boreholes. I read somewhere that in the past mining the earth was frowned upon because it was believed that drilling or digging deep into the earth might disturb supernatural spirits that reside deep below the surface. And, this is what happens when the drilling machine begins boring deep into the Toorberg. The vibrations caused by the machine wake the spirits of dead members of the Moolman and Riet families. Soon after this, Trickle, the young son of the dowser and his curious (maybe insane) wife, is discovered trapped deep down in a borehole. Despite strenuous attempts to rescue Trickle, who incidentally also has supernatural powers, the poor child dies. His death triggers a judicial investigation, which is conducted by a one-armed magistrate who arrives in the nearby town from afar.The magistrates's arrival and his subsequent detailed enquiries are not welcomed by the locals, least of all by the Moolmans (both alive and dead). Through the letters that the magistrate writes to his wife, we learn more and more about the Moolman and Riet families. As he begins to realise the complexity of the case he is dealing with - whether Trickle died accidentally or otherwise - the spirits of the dead members of the two families reveal to the reader more and more about their histories and also keep an eye on the activity of the magistrate, who despite himself becomes gradually drawn towards the people whom he is investigating.Mystery, history, and suspense, are skilfully interwoven in this unusual and beautifully written story that touches on the problems caused by Apartheid in South Africa. I recommend this highly.

  • Eadie
    2019-05-07 22:55

    I really enjoyed this multigenerational story of a rigid patriarchal farm family in an isolated region of South Africa. It was full of history and mixed with mystery. It also dealt with age-old secrets and inherited anxieties, especially the unforgivable shame of interracial marriage. If you are interested in learning about the problems caused by Apartheid in South Arfica, then I think you will enjoy reading this book.

  • Jim Fonseca
    2019-05-01 23:49

    In this book we get a lot of local color of the Little Karoo, a unique landscape of semi-arid steppe in South Africa that had its 15 minutes of fame and prosperity in the late 1800’s when it exported ostrich and other bird feathers to European fashion capitals.A government magistrate has come to this backward rural area of mixed-race folks to investigate the mysterious death, some time ago, of a five-year old boy. Everyone in the town knows what happened but no one is revealing anything to the outsider. What’s going on? Shades of Shirley Jackson’s Lottery? The chronology of the story jumps back and forth. A lot of it is told as the magistrate returns each evening to his hotel to write letters about his day, ostensibly to his wife, but there’s a mystery there as well.It’s a good story and you can see in this novel the makings of van Heerden’s later, and I think more polished work, The Long Silence of Mario Salviati. Both have similarities in structure: the rural folks suspicious of the visiting outsider; the town’s secrets and family rivalries; the crazy names; the bit of fantasy; the weight of ancient history. The book is translated from the Afrikaans.(photo from

  • Mareli Thalwitzer
    2019-05-07 18:44

    Dit was een van my matriek voorgeskrewe boeke en ek onthou dat ek baie mal was daaroor!!! Het dit 12jaar later weer gelees en ek dink dit het toe 'n nog groter impak op my gemaak. "Moenie vergeet waarvandaan jy kom nie, maar moenie dat dit jou verhoed om te gaan waarheen jy moet nie"

  • Nicolene Jansen
    2019-05-21 18:36

    Best Afrikaans fiction in a long time

  • Karlien
    2019-05-15 19:38

    Mooi, sfeervol, magisch-realistisch verhaal over 2 naast elkaar levende, verwante families en een tragische gebeurtenis ...ietwat teleurstellend, onduidelijk einde

  • Gronum
    2019-04-28 21:47

    One of the greats in Afrikaans!

  • Roane Swindon
    2019-05-20 23:44

    I loved this novel. It is full of rich history, mystery, and poignant descriptions, its plot is enjoyable and unique, and its themes are engaging and enchanting.Read more of what I thought on my blog.

  • Jan
    2019-05-18 16:29

    Location read: Stellenbosch

  • Kate Walsh
    2019-05-05 21:48

    There were too many characters, I was confused for most of the book. The plot was virtually non-existant. Some beautiful language and good portrayal of bitterness and inheritance.

  • Stefan Salonen
    2019-04-25 17:41

    Totally confusing and spillover use of ancestry-ghosts. Just a few shareable thoughts, the rest not worth reading, writing, sharing.

  • Els
    2019-05-18 18:46