THE LONG SILENCE OF MARIO SALVIATI

Etienne Van Heerden, Author, Catherine Knox, Translator , trans. from the Afrikaans by Catherine Knox. Regan Books $24.95 (448p) ISBN 978-0-06-052973-4

Van Heerden applies the palette of magic realism to a remote South African village in the Great Karoo, where a beautiful South African art curator undertakes a quest to procure a mystical statue. Ingi Friedlander makes the journey from Cape Town to the tiny town of Yearsonend, intent on purchasing the huge, controversial wooden monolith dubbed the Staggering Merman by local sculptor Jonty Jack Bergh, who discovered it one morning outside his cottage. As she sounds him out on the possibility of a deal, Ingi becomes infatuated by Jonty, and she also becomes immersed in the local folklore as their relationship begins to blossom. A colorful cast of secondary characters helps bring the village to life, as its residents focus on a muddled but ardent ongoing effort to find a cache of gold that was hidden during the Boer War by Jonty's grandfather, Meerlust Bergh. This subplot revolves around the hidden knowledge of a silent, elderly stonecutter named Mario Salviati, who refuses to reveal the location of the treasure he discovered while helping Jonty's father build a channel for the local dam. Van Heerden's intensely lyrical prose and lighthearted, whimsical storytelling keep the labyrinthine plot from bogging down, and the juxtaposition of art and avarice is a spicy combination. The bloom may be off the rose with regard to magic realism as a genre, but Van Heerden proves that there's plenty of life in the form. (Feb.)

Forecast:Though he's been translated into nine languages, Van Heerden may have a hard time finding a U.S. audience. Good reviews and a six-city author tour may help, and mention on NPR, for example, should entice readers interested in literary fiction set in South Africa.

Reviewed on: 12/23/2002
Release date: 02/01/2003
Show other formats
FORMATS
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-06-052978-9
Hardcover - 978-0-06-053689-3
Hardcover - 448 pages - 978-0-340-81999-9
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.