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The Zebra Affaire

4.51  ·  Rating details ·  82 ratings  ·  50 reviews
The critically acclaimed novel set in 1976 apartheid South Africa. It tells of the courage of love across the color divide - especially in the face of an unyielding racist police state, and the extreme lengths a man and a woman must go to remain together. When Stanwell Marunda, a proud descendant of the Zulu, meets the beautiful Elsa, the daughter of a white farmer, he is ...more
Paperback, 354 pages
Published May 15th 2014 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
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Trisha I have read many novels in the romance genre, quite a few best sellers. Some of the stories have touched me but ‘The Zebra Affaire’ is special because…moreI have read many novels in the romance genre, quite a few best sellers. Some of the stories have touched me but ‘The Zebra Affaire’ is special because it has moved me. This story has a fresh plot and the fine writing is its specialty. It is a fast paced engaging story that pulls you inside it, you are not reading the story but you become a part of it. It is intense and rapturous.

‘The Zebra Affaire’ is a Masterpiece; it is a beautiful depiction of Love. You must read the book to discover the forbidden love story of Elsa and Stanwell.


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Average rating 4.51  · 
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Elizabeth Horton-Newton
Apr 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It is not often a book as intensely dazzling as “The Zebra Affaire” by Mark Fine comes along. A forbidden love story takes place against the dramatic background of 1970’s South Africa and apartheid. Fine draws you into the story cautiously, laying the groundwork for the eventual affair between Elsa and Stanwell. By gently educating the reader with the background of the conflicts in South Africa, awareness of the difficulties faced by the star crossed lovers is enhanced. This is more than a racia ...more
Jean Gill
Mar 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An inter-racial love story told with ‘the warmth of humanity’s voice’

While beautiful Afrikaner Elsa was committing the crime of love for a black Malawi man working in South Africa, in 1976, I was much the same age and living in the UK, horrified by the idea of Apartheid but knowing little of the inside story. Thanks to this wide-ranging novel, I’ve experienced that inside story: a personal history of individuals from the three major 'human categories' recognized by the ‘uncivil servants’, and al
Rochelle Carlton
Jan 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Author, Mark Fine has neatly stitched together both a fictional romance and a factually informative novel.

“The Zebra Affaire” will transport the reader to a world of racial tension, tribal unease and prejudice. It will allow the reader to easily visualise the beauty of the wild life, and the landscape and lifestyle through the eyes of the author.

Through his sympathetic portrayal of the two main characters the reader is able to experience a romantic, tragic and moving love story. Their relations
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2015
A beautiful love story intertwined in amongst a time when their love was deemed wrong. Zebra Affaire will take you to 1976, during a time when Apartheid was a very common understanding. Two worlds will collide, and the word Apartheid is just a thought. What they see is so much more than color, hate, and fighting. As I read the story, I found myself frustrated. I was frustrated with how easy it was to set judgement on this couple. I was also frustrated, because in my eyes there is no color differ ...more
Jackie Parry
Feb 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Thrilling, eloquent, captivating.

The seventies in South Africa and an apartheid government sets the composition of this story. Added to the arrangement is conflict, love, cruelty, wealth, power and romance.

Fine creates a colourful symphony of prose and a riveting story to lose yourself within. I learned, without lecture, about the historical path of South Africa and the clashing of tribal differences, government laws, and the realities of this time.

This is a very special book that has you cheeri
Glen Barrera
Apr 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully told love story, within a story.

I was impressed with this book. Not only with the high literary quality of the writing, but with its concept. That is: an interracial love story, woven within the greater story of an apartheid South African government (1976). The result of which will force the lovers, Elsa and Stanwell, to hide their affair, surviving only by subterfuge and the graces of friends sympathetic to their cause. But it was against this backdrop of what might be another op
Joseph Brewer
May 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What a surprise and delight to open a book and discover the tapestry of South Africa. Not only the history, language, culture, struggles, clashes, its tribes and the arrival of Europeans, but the the truth of the bloody conflicts and the emergence of a minority controlling a government using apartheid until modern times demand change.
With this comes the unlikeliest of love stories, an Afrikaner woman and a Malawi man, who before they know what is happening, fall in love despite their coupling br
Vanessa Wester
Nov 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is the perfect fusion of fiction & non-fiction.

The fictional tale of Elsa, a white native South African, and Stanwell, a black foreigner from Malawi, and their forbidden love story within the harsh Apartheid regime of South Africa in 1976 is beautifully written and I shed a tear at its climax.

The addition of non-fiction extracts throughout the story added a depth to the tale that made the situation more real. With the death of Mandela in 2013 it is important to reflect on both the
Wanda DeHaven Pyle
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction
Romeo and Juliet Wrapped in Social and Political Commentary

Mark Fine has admirably taken on the daunting task of melding fiction with nonfiction in The Zebra Affaire. He has done so by placing his editorial commentary within the text of the novel.These passages are italicized to distinguish them from the fictional story. He welcomes the reader to "skip these asides in order to stick to the main trail of the tale". The result of this experiment in style is a kind of Romeo and Juliet tale wrapped
Geoff Nelder
Jan 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is more than a daring, multi-racial romance set in a racist South Africa in 1976 on the cusp of abandoning apartheid. The best section by far for me is the beginning where black Malawian, Stanwell, crashes his pickup and is illegally cared back to health by a white family and in particular by Elsa (23). The tension is palpable and a marvellous introduction to the girl as she had only just arrived at the house for a job interview and up to this point had not really clicked with Lydia, the la ...more
Ester Shifren
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Mark Fine’s “The Zebra Affaire” is a remarkable, across-the-color-bar, love story set in 1976, during the depths and despair of the shamefully restrictive and cruel Apartheid era—a dark period in South African history. Fine’s unusual style successfully intersperses his story with well-researched, italicized “footnotes,” that could be called “Anywherenotes,” that give you full insight into the history and prevailing status of the ruling Afrikaner party’s inflexible, unrelenting grip on the countr ...more
Mark Fine
Aug 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)

"I just finished reading this book and it's truly a masterpiece on so many levels. As a South African who left S.A. in the late 70's, I can attest to the authenticity of Mr. Fine's historical and social facts, as well as life as it existed there at that time... It is a beautiful, heartfelt and very complete love story of the "no-no" kind, written magnificently by Mark Fine." ILANA EDELSTEIN Author, "The Patron Way"

"I see Pulitzer Prize material he
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I adore how author Mark Fine weaves "anywhere notes" into the text of Zebra Affaire. Great idea! It's so irritating flipping to the back of a book to check on extended explanations. These "notes" are so perfectly placed! And...Fine has predicted exactly where a reader might be confused or question something. I so frequently find myself putting down a book to google research something that piqued my curiosity instead of zipping through it racing to the finish. ZA's "notes" make it so much more me ...more
Dave Adair
Feb 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am thrilled to have come across the Zebra Affaire by Mark Fine. First, it is a remarkable love story with pages turning easily and frequently. Mark’s writing style flows nicely and kept me engaged without going too deeply into the setting. The narrative is excellent and the descriptive language was not overdone.

Mostly, the book educated me to the horrors and nearly unbelievable societal darkness of South Africa in the 1970s. In America, we tend to see news of racial and ethnic atrocities thoug
Alan Cook
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book overlaps several genres. It is partly a steamy romance between a black man and a white woman, which was forbidden during the years of apartheid in the Republic of South Africa. It is also partly a history book that explains how apartheid came to be and how it was enforced by the National Party from 1948 to 1994. The historic explanations helped me to understand the story, and how dangerous the course followed by Elsa and Stanwell is when they violate the law of the land. Fortunately, t ...more
Urenna Sander
Feb 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Interspersed throughout the novel, the author weaves information concerning Afrikaans and their laws effecting South Africa’s indigenous people. This is important for readers who have not read a novel concerning South Africa.
The author gives his opinion of some of the Afrikaaners’ character traits. He gave the nub for their standpoint with other Europeans—the British and the French (Huguenots). Their language did not develop like the European Dutch. Although culturally insecure, Afrikaaners wer
Anita Kovacevic
Mar 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-reviews
Reality+romance = relevance
This book came highly recommended and I put off reading it till I knew I had stopped having expectations. Preconceived expectations are never a good thing. The apartheid topic is one I don't gravitate towards, because it still shocks me too much that people could and can be narrow-minded enough to judge others by skin colour, instead of character. I just get too emotional and enfuriated.
This story is two-fold. One is the social romance fiction based on historical event
Daniel Wiese Randig
Great story and great history lesson!

So much of South African history told while narrating a beautiful story between two different worlds.
It is a great book!
Mark Fine
Aug 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition

"I found the writing style superb and descriptive, in both the characters and the story. Reading it was often like watching a movie, it was that well written. I absolutely did not expect the ending -- I actually cried out loud when I read it. All in all, I would highly recommend this!" KAREN WITH A KINDLE

"An Instant Classic full of Depth, Empathy and Compassion! Two pages into reading The Zebra Affaire - the new, fast-paced historical novel by Mar
Neil Newton
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Zebra Affaire by Mark Fine

This is a book that anyone should read, especially those of us who know little about the apartheid régime that formerly had a choke hold on the people, politics, and social structure of South Africa. One of the tasks of books that describe one of the many “holocausts” we have experienced around the world is to adequately convey the horror of living under a sadistic and morally bankrupt form of government. Mark Fine delivers this to his readers and much more.

Each sto
Eric J. Gates
May 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Readers looking for OUSTANDING tales.
Many years ago I found myself literally immersed, in every sensorial possibility, in a book set in Africa. Long before Hollywood placed its sugar-coated paws on Karen Blixen’s ‘Out of Africa’, I encountered the novel on the sparsely populated shelves of the house I was staying at in Nairobi. A couple of days later, fate took me to the ‘farm in Africa’ she spoke about and an indelible memory was born; reading about the life and tribulations of this intriguing character whilst sitting outside her ...more
Jenny Blossom
Dec 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: awesome
I got a book written by Mark Fine yesterday about living in South Africa during the year I was born. It’s called “The Zebra Affaire”. I must apologize to any and all I have plans with in the next 24 hours because I am cancelling… as I can't stop reading this for a proper critique. I'm on the second round of reading, and this novel blows my mind. Anyone who wants to talk smack about indie writers needs to meet Mark Fine. Also, I am a harsh critic of wordsmiths, as I should be, and I am tiresome i ...more
Claire Stibbe
Sep 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautiful story that weaves together two distinctive lives. The first thing that struck me about this novel was Fine’s staggering research. The authenticity of his writing helps to immerse us into the environment one character at a time. I immediately became hooked by Stanwell’s world, his frugal background where a makeshift shanty, poor sanitation and overcrowding is called home. It’s hard to separate oneself from the abject poverty and it’s impossible to compare it to Lydia’s grand estate wi ...more
May 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A spell-bounding novel, fascinating history!

I was blown away by this brilliant historical fiction so beautifully told by South African novelist Mark Fine. I didn’t know enough about South Africa in the 70’s and looked forward to read The Zebra Affair, hoping to learn something from it. I soon realized I had come to the right place. Mark Fine has a deep understanding of the history, racism and tribalism in South Africa and tells his story in eloquent language and in a voice full of love for his c
Florian Rochat
Dec 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
« The Zebra Affaire » is one of those rare books that can be read as well as a fiction as a history work, with a heartbreaking love story conveying the reality of an odious political regime : the apartheid. That separation between races was worse than communism : after all, the Berlin wall separated the free people of West Germany from the imprisoned ones of the East, but at least, the latter were said to be « equals ».

Mark Fine is passionnate about his native country and I was impressed by the
David Jarrett
Apr 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
The Zebra Affaire blends history and romance in a story about two people, one black and one white, who fall in love in 1976 South Africa during the apartheid regime. It is a beautifully written book by an author who not only has a suburb vocabulary and command of the English language, but also has lived in South Africa during this period of history and knows his subject first-hand.

The prose is rich, almost too much so for a genre novel. As a reviewer, I would place it in the class of a literary
Ted Tayler
May 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"A love story with a timeless history lesson for everyone"

Elsa and Stanwell carry on an illicit love affair in a South Africa that is still in the inhuman grip of apartheid. Their love retains an innocence despite the turmoil their relationship causes. This book mixes historical fact and romance to produce a stunning image of life in South Africa in the 1970s. Mark Fine manages to seamlessly weave the multi-racial love story into the very fabric of the country's history. If you want to learn abo
Judy's Homegrown
Apr 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A story like this can only come from a native South African. With aplomb and affection, the author describes his characters, the animals in the wild, scenes from the bush, the gold mines, geography, and neighborhoods. The author's knowledge of the political strife between two types of Afrikaners from the Netherlands, the resident British, and the indigenous tribes educated me about their conflicts in a way no textbook could.

Though young Elsa and Stanwell's romance remains the thread of the novel
Pamela Crane
Feb 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: drama
“The Zebra Affaire” draws readers deep into the 1970s, breathing new life into South African history, while delivering a poignant tale of Elsa and her forbidden love affair with Stanwell.

Using fine strokes, Mark Fine paints a masterful portrait of the trials of blended romance during a period tense with racial discrimination. Fighting for their tortured love, Elsa and Stanwell face obstacles that threaten their lives as the apartheid government sets to make an example of the couple and tribal s
Benedict Martin
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a special book. It's not only moving, but I learned a lot as well. I was just a kid when South Africa was experiencing apartheid, and didn't really understand what exactly was happening with that country. Mr. Fine manages to explain so many things about South Africa's social and political systems through a love story set in the 1970s. And smoothly, too. His attention to detail is remarkable. I can't imagine the research required to create something so complete.

The love story itself is be
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The True Story of Zebra Affaire 1 5 Dec 28, 2016 02:27PM  
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Author Mark Fine was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. New York, Minneapolis and Los Angeles have been home since 1979. Through global music giant PolyGram, Mark founded Hammer & Lace Records. His label had a unique mandate: to be the industry’s only imprint dedicated to aiding vital social and health issues by creating benefit albums to raise both crucial funds and life-saving awareness. Th ...more