One of our recommended books is Agaat by Marlene van Niekerk

AGAAT


In 1940s apartheid South Africa, Milla de Wet discovers a child abandoned in the fields of her family farm. Ignoring the warnings of friends and family, Milla brings the girl, Agaat, into her home. But the kindness is fleeting, as Milla makes Agaat her maidservant and, later, a nanny for her son. At turns cruel and tender, this relationship between a wealthy white woman and her Black maidservant is constantly fraught and shaped by a rigid social order.

Decades later, Milla is confined to her bed with ALS, and is quickly losing her ability to communicate. Her family has fallen apart,

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In 1940s apartheid South Africa, Milla de Wet discovers a child abandoned in the fields of her family farm. Ignoring the warnings of friends and family, Milla brings the girl, Agaat, into her home. But the kindness is fleeting, as Milla makes Agaat her maidservant and, later, a nanny for her son. At turns cruel and tender, this relationship between a wealthy white woman and her Black maidservant is constantly fraught and shaped by a rigid social order.

Decades later, Milla is confined to her bed with ALS, and is quickly losing her ability to communicate. Her family has fallen apart, her country is on the brink of change, and all she has left are her memories—and a reckoning with the only person who remains by her side: Agaat. In complex and devastating ways, the power shifts between the two women, mirroring the historic upheavals happening around them and revealing a shared lifetime of hopes, sacrifices, and control.

Hailed as an international masterpiece, Marlene van Niekerk’s Agaat is a haunting and deeply layered saga of resilience, loyalty, betrayal, and how the passage of time cannot heal all wounds.

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  • Tin House
  • Paperback
  • December 2020
  • 592 Pages
  • 9781951142209

Buy the Book

$18.95

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About Marlene van Niekerk

Marlene van Niekerk is the author of AgaatMarlene van Niekerk is an award-winning poet, novelist and short story writer. She was awarded South Africa’s high honour, the Order of Ikhamanga, in 2011 for her outstanding intellectual contribution to the literary arts and culture field through poetry, literature and philosophical works. She has received many accolades, including being a finalist for the sixth Man Booker International Prize 2015 and shortlisted for the South African Sunday Times Literary Prize, the M-Net Literary Prize, the Booksellers’ Choice Award South Africa and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.

Praise

“The most important South African novel since Coetzee’s Disgrace.” The Times Literary Supplement

“Books like Agaat. . . are the reason people read novels, and the reason authors write them.” The New York Times Book Review

“This is a frank novel about a white South African landowner and her lifelong servant in a radically changing country.” O, The Oprah Magazine

“A family saga of mothers and daughters . . . and a poetic exploration of control and the loss of control. It’s a stylishly inventive book.” —The Rumpus

“Wonderful.” Good Housekeeping