The Mandela Plot

Kenneth Bonert. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27 (480p) ISBN 978-1-328-88618-7
Set in 1980s South Africa, this uneven literary thriller from National Jewish Book Award winner Bonert (The Lion Seeker) focuses on 16-year-old Martin Helger, a bored student at a private religious day school in Johannesburg. His routine life changes with the arrival of Annie Goldberg, an anthropology major at Columbia who has come to teach at a primary school in one of the city’s black townships, as a guest of his family. Instantly smitten, Martin becomes obsessed with Annie. He regularly sneaks into her room to search her possessions, among which he finds a concealed videotape. Annie catches him in the act; later, she reveals that the tape is vital to her efforts to topple the apartheid regime. Motivated by lust rather than political conviction, Martin becomes her accomplice in duplicating the video so it can be widely distributed. Predictably, Annie and Martin’s efforts fall short with tragic results. Underdeveloped as a lead, Martin experiences personal losses that don’t pack the emotional punch readers would expect in the circumstances. Bonert fails to make the most of an intriguing setup. Agents: Kim Witherspoon and Maria Whelan, Inkwell Management. (May)

This review has been revised to remove a spoiler.

Reviewed on: 03/05/2018
Release date: 05/22/2018
Genre: Fiction
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-9871-4430-7
Paperback - 496 pages - 978-1-328-58507-3
Compact Disc - 978-1-6651-3738-6
MP3 CD - 978-1-6651-3737-9
Open Ebook - 481 pages - 978-1-328-88615-6
Hardcover - 480 pages - 978-0-7352-7402-0
Compact Disc - 978-1-68441-214-3
Paperback - 480 pages - 978-0-7352-7403-7
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