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The Resource The second coming of Mavala Shikongo : a novel, Peter Orner

The second coming of Mavala Shikongo : a novel, Peter Orner

Label
The second coming of Mavala Shikongo : a novel
Title
The second coming of Mavala Shikongo
Title remainder
a novel
Statement of responsibility
Peter Orner
Creator
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
"Set in Namibia just after independence in the early 1990s, Peter Orner's first novel is a chronicle of the long days, short loves, and cold nights at Goas, an all-boys Catholic primary school so deep in the veld that "even the baboons feel sorry for us." Though physically isolated in semi-desert beneath a relentless sun, the people of Goas create an alternate, more fertile universe through the stories they tell each other. The book's central character is Mavala Shikongo, a combat veteran who fought in Namibia's long war for independence against South Africa. She has recently returned to the school--with a child, but no husband. Mavala is modern, restless, and driven, in sharp contrast to conservative Goas. All the male teachers (including a bumbling but observant volunteer from Cincinnati) try not to fall in love with her. Everyone fails--immediately and miserably."--The publisher - (July 2006)
Storyline
Character
Review
  • Talk about stories never told. Larry Kaplanski from Cincinnati is a volunteer teacher in a small, rough all-boys Catholic school in the Namibian desert in 1991, just after independence. He shares a shack with colleagues and is in love with beautiful Mavala Shikongo, who is a kindergarten teacher and veteran guerilla fighter from the antiapartheid struggle. The weight of the brutal colonial and apartheid past is always there, but the freedom story is never reverential, and the taut vignettes, anguished and sometimes hilarious, are about ordinary people now. The novel is more situation than story, but there are scenes that will stay with you forever: the three illegal refugee children from across the border, who only want school, and then are gone after three days; the drought stories; the fence building (Why? How?); the farce of the Cincinnati community that sends an old broken piano for the adorable little school somewhere in deepest Africa. Orner, a prizewinning short story writer, has lived in Namibia, and his debut novel brings close those far from the centers of power. -- Hazel Rochman (Reviewed 03-01-2006) (Booklist, vol 102, number 13, p67)
  • Orner's poetic, episodic examination of the varieties of life at an isolated Catholic primary school deep in the veld of Namibia coheres around the title character, a beautiful guerrilla fighter turned kindergarten teacher. Set in the early 1990s, soon after Namibia won independence from South Africa, this impressive debut novel (after Esther Stories ) is mostly narrated by Larry Kaplanski, a young volunteer who leaves Cincinnati, Ohio, to teach English and history at Farm Goas. Orner captures Goas's glacial rhythms, the extraordinary contrast between the desert's night and day, and the community's daily privations, including—for the single male teachers—a lust arising from boredom and loneliness. Mavala Shikongo, the principal's sister-in-law and the object of her colleagues' desires, reluctantly settles at Goas with her illegitimate baby boy, Tomo. Orner punctuates Larry's observations with brief interludes told from the points of view of other inhabitants of the school, and with haunting, cinematic imagery—boys do pull-ups on a huge cross; Mavala and Larry, who become friends and intimates, hold their afternoon trysts on the graves of Boer settlers. These telling snapshots stand in for the larger sociopolitical, cultural and religious issues facing a country emerging from a century of colonization. (Apr.) --Staff (Reviewed February 6, 2006) (Publishers Weekly, vol 253, issue 6, p42)
  • /* Starred Review */ In Orner's beautiful debut, Larry Kaplanski, a teacher from Ohio, volunteers at a boys' Catholic primary school in the newly independent Namibia. The climate and landscape in the remote town of Goas are relentless—too hot or too cold, drought-stricken, and barren. Solace comes from the school's collection of characters and the stories they tell one another, stories fraught with both public and private devastation. Mavala Shikongo, a combat veteran who returns to the school to teach, a child unaccountably in her wake, is the irresistible force of gravity in a place occupied by men and boys who, for scarcity, are starving for “woman.” But the restless and searching Mavala is not as sure as gravity after all. Author of the short story collection Esther Stories , which received the Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Goldberg Prize from the National Foundation of Jewish Culture, Orner is a miraculous writer with a stunning ability to compel the reader softly with ever-increasing increments. Inspired by Orner's own experiences in Namibia, this novel so evokes the place and its people that, by the end of the book, readers will find themselves reluctantly brushing the sandy loam of Goas off their feet to the reverberating voices of its inhabitants. Highly recommended for all public libraries.—Jyna Scheeren, Troy P.L., NY --Jyna Scheeren (Reviewed April 15, 2006) (Library Journal, vol 131, issue 6, p68)
  • A group of teachers cope with their desolate existence at a remote boarding school in Namibia. Southwest Africa never had it easy. Colonized by the Germans and then the British, and later annexed by apartheid-era South Africa, the country endured a 20-year guerilla war before being reborn in 1989 as Namibia. And then there's the cruel climate, with its killer droughts. Orner sets his first novel in Goas, a tiny settlement in the veldt. Once an unproductive farm, it passed to the Catholic church, which sent monks there to raise sheep. The sheep died; the monks disappeared into the empty veldt. Their ghosts, along with many others, haunt the school eventually erected there. In 1991, narrator Larry Kaplanski, a young American Jew from Ohio, joins the four other male teachers as a volunteer. Within weeks, there's another arrival, Mavala Shikongo, the principal's sister-in-law: beautiful, stern, tight-lipped Mavala, who was a soldier in the war. She soon disappears, but returns with a small boy, Tomo. Her fellow teachers are bewitched. The five men drink, reminisce and commiserate with each other. Orner's novel is a montage of conversations, historical episodes and character sketches. Kaplanski's neighbor in the singles quarters, Pohamba, visits the nearest town for female companionship. Head Teacher Obadiah, trapped in a loveless marriage, finds solace in drink and erudite commentaries. Kaplanski and Mavala start meeting for trysts at siesta time. Sometimes they'll just talk; sometimes they'll make love on the graves of the Voortrekkers (pioneer Boers). Both are enigmas: Kaplanski admits his "ineptitude" as a teacher, leading one to wonder why he's there in the first place, and Mavala never reveals the identity of Tomo's father. Is Kaplanski serious when he suggests they get married? Probably not. Any intentions evaporate in the heat as the cattle die. Mavala leaves again, abandoning her child; there had been unpleasantness with her sister and lecherous brother-in-law. In the endless drought, she becomes the memory of sweet rain. Powerfully evocative, but wispy characterizations leave a void at the center. (Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2006)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
144239
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Orner, Peter
Dewey number
813/.6
Illustrations
maps
Index
no index present
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Americans
  • Boys
  • Catholic schools
  • Women teachers
  • Single mothers
  • Americans
  • Boys
  • Catholic schools
  • Single mothers
  • Women teachers
  • Namibia
  • Namibia
Label
The second coming of Mavala Shikongo : a novel, Peter Orner
Instantiates
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
592593
Dimensions
22 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
309 pages
Isbn
9780316735803
Lccn
2005024473
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Other physical details
map
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780316735803
  • (OCoLC)61362117
Label
The second coming of Mavala Shikongo : a novel, Peter Orner
Publication
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
592593
Dimensions
22 cm
Edition
First edition.
Extent
309 pages
Isbn
9780316735803
Lccn
2005024473
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Other physical details
map
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780316735803
  • (OCoLC)61362117

Library Locations

    • Central LibraryBorrow it
      710 W. Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX, 78701, US
      30.2713021 -97.7460168
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