Read The Long Silence of Mario Salviati : A Novel by Etienne van Heerden Free Online
Book Title: The Long Silence of Mario Salviati : A Novel|
The author of the book: Etienne van Heerden
ISBN 13: 9780060529789
Format files: PDF
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Reader ratings: 3.2
The size of the: 623 KB
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Date of issue: January 31st 2004
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This is a big-screen multi-generational novel in the style of James Michener and with an atmosphere of the American Wild West. But it’s set in South Africa and translated from the Afrikaans. We get a lot of local color of the Little Karoo, a unique landscape, a semi-arid steppe area that had its 15 minutes of fame and prosperity in the late 1800s’ when it exported ostrich and other bird feathers to European fashion capitals. And how’s this for a cast of characters: Titty X!am; Lost Cause Moloi; Dumb Eyetie; Obliging Edith; Jonty Jack; Freckleface Pistorius; Granny Soulful Pedi. There’s a genealogy chart to help keep track.
The story begins when an improbable artist claims that a wooden carving magically appeared outside his rural isolated studio. A young Jewish woman who works for an art museum comes out from the big city to investigate and gets caught up in the surreal world of these backlanders living in quasi-isolation and still fighting family feuds and holding family secrets that go back a century.
It’s a book about blacks and whites, mixed-race folks and class. A search for lost gold. Stories of great men and their big engineering schemes. The transition from horses to cars. Italian POWs who were housed in the area in World War II who stayed on and blended into the population. There’s a touch of magical realism – folks get visited by a sulfur-smelling angel. The specter of the century-old Boer War (Dutch settlers vs. the English) hangs over the story. The author’s earlier work, Ancestral Voices, which I also reviewed, is kind of a “dry run” for this more fully-developed and much longer story.
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Read information about the authorEtienne Roché van Heerden grew up in a dual medium household. After matriculating he decided to join the navy, but since he is blind in the right eye, was not called up for combat duty. Instead he served as a dog handler, playing his alsatian at major festivals.
Van Heerden initially studied law, and was admitted to the South African Side Bar as attorney. He freelanced as deputy sheriff for the Civil Court, and moved about in the townships around Cape Town, dispensing civil summonses and learning a great deal about life in these suppressed communities. As a young practitioner, his clients were mostly from the black and coloured crime-ridden communities around Cape Town.
Van Heerden also lectured Legal Practice at the Peninsula Technikon and spent two years in advertising. At age thirty, with the birth of his eldest daughter, Van Heerden left the routine of a budding Cape Town advertising agency. He and his family relocated to northern Natal where he started out on his academic career in Literature at the University of Zululand. His PhD was a study on engagement and postmodernism.
During the eighties he was member of a group of Afrikaans writers secretly meeting the banned ANC of Mandela and exiled writers at the (now famous) Victoria Falls Writers’ Conference, held in Zimbabwe.
He regularly teaches at universities in Europe, and has been Writer in Residence at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, and the University of Antwerp in Belgium. He was a member of the University of Iowa’s prestigious International Writing Program in 1990, and has been back on visits to this university, of which he is an Honorary Fellow in Writing. He regularly reads his fiction at events such as the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, the Winter Nights Festival in the Hague, Netherlands, the Time of the Writer Festival in Berlin, Germany, the Zimbabwe Book Fair and other festivals and events internationally.
Van Heerden now teaches at the University of Cape Town, where he is the Hofmeyr Professor in the School of Languages and Literatures, and chairs the Afrikaans and Netherlandic Studies Section. He is also the brain behind the literary e-zine "LitNet".
Van Heerden is married to Kaia, a practising doctor, and lives in Stellenbosch. The couple has two daughters, Imke and Menán.
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