"The Mandela Plot", by Kenneth Bonert

The Mandela Plot - Kenneth Bonert

This political thriller and fiction tale take place in and around Johannesburg, South Africa during apartheid and focuses on the supporters of the cause. The story spans from the uprising up to the release of Nelson Mandela and sometime after. The main players are the Helgers, a second generation Jewish family, young Martin is the key player in this heartbreaking and tragic account.

In the 1980’s, the regime is on the verge of collapse and the population suffers a maelstrom of violence during that horrifying time. Although fictional the author’s words have made this story sound so real with his incredible passages. When Martin is thrust in the heart of the struggle by a manipulative American and comes out of his bubble to help the cause we see a tad of what may have occurred during that time. Mercy is in short supply and no one is safe…..black, white, Afrikaans, Europeans, foreign nationals, immigrants ….. This novel, a moving coming-of- age tale honestly explored the bold themes of identity as well as terrorism and revolution and is said through an unforgettable journey.

The characters are well developed and believable some are even quite sympathetic and others so evil it is hard to believe their actions. This is a very hard book to get into. The narration and dialogue are peppered with some South African dialects, some slang, some Yiddish a challenging mix if not familiar with the languages. Although the author has given us a glossary at the end of the books I found it was very distracting and I needed to pause too often and reread the sentences in order to understand the meaning. The long paragraph sometime over a page long and its stretched narrative also made reading a daunting task at times. ….Of course what I think doesn’t remove the feeling of authenticity this story projects. 

I may not have enjoyed this novel at its fullest nevertheless I must say “The Mandela Plot” is a good read to be enjoyed by historical buff…. 

I received this ARC from Penguin Random House Canada via NetGalleys for my thoughts