A ground-breaking, prize-winning novel of the new South Africa, a captivating story that spans the country's dramatic history
When Ingi Friedlander travels to Yearsonend in the rugged interior of South Africa to purchase a statue, its eccentric sculptor, Jonty Jack, does not want to sell - he says it was not his creation, but simply appeared miraculously. Ingi decides to stay and try to win Jonty's trust, but soon realises that the townspeople suspect she has come to seek a different treasure - the legendary wagon of gold brought in by defeated Boer soldiers. Gradually she prises open the secrets of the past, secrets of greed, racism and vaulting ambition, whose key lies with the Italian POW Mario Salviati - deaf, dumb and now blind. Watched over by a very earthy angel and long dead humans, Ingi forces a resolution with the past and faces up to her own future.
A wondrous tale, weaving magic realism and history, in which Van Heerden captures the stark beauty of the Karoo and its people. - Xan Rice, The Times
Extraordinary ... Mario Salviati is a compelling and moving creation. - Christopher Hope, Guardian
Rich in insight and hope ... an impressively colourful picture of a fascinating and contradictory country. - Mark Stanton, Scotsman
If ever a book captured the static charge of a sunbaked landscape, it's Etienne van Heerden's magical fifth novel ... The tales [Ingi] hears are romantic, tragic, funny and bloody, preserved like fossils in sandstone - Helen Brown, Daily Telegraph
It's easy to see why Van Heerden is being described as an Afrikaans Marquez ... [he is] an exceptionally gifted writer. - Scotland on Sunday
A complex tale, full of richly drawn characters ... fascinating - Margaret Quinn, Big Issue
Magical ... a new literary star is emerging - OK! magazine
Dazzling storytelling magically weaves the fantastical with the everyday and lends a compelling power to the author's meditations on history, art and life. - Guardian
After a career as an advocate and then in advertising, Etienne Van Heerden taught at Rhodes University, South Africa, the University of Amsterdam and was Writer in Residence at Utrecht University. He is currently Professor of Literature at the University of Cape Town, and is the author of a collection of short stories and four previous novels, including the multi-prize-winning Ancestral Voices.