Zoe Du Plessis's story unfolds against the backdrop of 1996 South Africa, caught in the turmoil of the transition from the Apartheid regime to the first democratically elected black government. A paleoanthropologist at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, her world collapses when her lover and colleague, Dario Oldani, is killed during a fatal carjacking.
Clinging to her late companion's memory, Zoe sets off to the merciless Kalahari Desert to continue his fieldwork. It's the beginning of an inner journey during which Zoe comes to terms with her sense of guilt as a privileged white Afrikaner while also confronting a secret that has hung over her family for generations. During a brief visit back home, Zoe meets an unlikely lover in Kurt, a legendary South African writer with a troubled past.
The conclusion spirals the reader into a new perspective, where atonement seems to be inextricably linked to an act of creative imagination.
Guernica Editions (Essential Prose Series)
285 pages |
A clever, fresh and widely resonating novel whose international, globalizing streak rescues us from stale and overly provincial atmospheres.
Dr. Carlo Testa, The University of British Columbia
Arianna Dagnino's transcultural novel of a young woman's struggle to recover from the brutal killing of her lover, cope with her family's tragic past and find her way in post-Apartheid South Africa, is both moving and memorable. Dagnino, drawing on her years as a journalist in South Africa, de-layers the country's conflicts, introduces some remarkable characters and takes the reader on a spellbinding journey.Ian Thomas Shaw, author of Quill of the Dove.
Arianna Dagnino’s The Afrikaner is a multi-faceted book. The prose is precise and brilliant; and the punctuation – this humble dictionary of pauses – is as professional and fluid as to leave the reader relaxed. From time to time I felt compelled to stop and read a second time some beautifully carved sentences. In short, I dare to say that The Afrikaner is the first important gift the New Year brings to literary culture.
Giannalberto Bendazzi, author of Animation: A World History
Set in the South Africa of thirty years ago, this is novel that spins a good tale while deftly exploring origins – personal, professional, and political – of the emerging South rainbow nation.
Dr. Michael Hattaway, New York University in London
Arianna Dagnino has written an engaging story about one woman’s search for answers in her own life, both personal and professional. The author uses a realistic style and creates very believable characters whom we enjoy meeting. She finds poetry in the arid beauty of the Kalahari Desert and helps us to get to know remote landscapes. The realistic discussions about the social and political divisions in South Africa among the White, the Coloured and the Black communities have many parallels with the social conflicts in the US and Canada. What does multiculturalism mean in these different countries? Will Zoe locate evidence of early human ancestors? Will she find answers to her own troubled life?
Joseph Pivato, Athabasca University
- Available on Audible
- Audio excerpt read by Dennis Kleinman
- Vancouver Sun interview: "Vancouver writer heads to South Africa for new novel"
- Interview with Arianna Dagnino by Valerio Viale
- Colonialism, Reconciliation & Transcultural Literature
- Il Mensile interview by Valerio Viale
- UBC Newsletter: "Colonialism, Reconciliation & Transcultural Literature"
- The Source Forum for Diversity interview w/ Arianna Dagnino
- BC Bookworld: Arianna Dagnino
- Under the Big Oak Tree, an excerpt in The Saturday Star
- The Province interview
- The Guardian interview
- The Afrikaner video trailer
- Arianna Dagnino website
- The Afrikaner website
- South Branch Scribbler Interview
AICW Bressani Literary Prize (Short-listed)
Miramichi Reader Best Fiction of 2020 (Short-listed)