The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo

A Novel


By Peter Orner

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$28.99 CAD



  1. Trade Paperback $21.99 $28.99 CAD
  2. ebook $9.99 $12.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around May 16, 2007. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Set in Namibia just after independence in the early 1990s, Peter Orner’s first novel is a chronicle of the long days, short loves, and cold nights at Goas, an all-boys Catholic primary school so deep in the veld that “even the baboons feel sorry for us.”

Though physically isolated in semi-desert beneath a relentless sun, the people of Goas create an alternate, more fertile universe through the stories they tell each other. The book’s central character is Mavala Shikongo, a combat veteran who fought in Namibia’s long war for independence against South Africa.

She has recently returned to the school — with a child, but no husband. Mavala is modern, restless, and driven, in sharp contrast to conservative Goas. All the male teachers (including a bumbling but observant volunteer from Cincinnati) try not to fall in love with her. Everyone fails — immediately and miserably. This extraordinary first novel explores the history of a place through the stories of its people. But above all it’s about the fleetingness of love and the endurance of fellowship.

  • "A starvation diary about desire, with as much sexual tension as a bodicebuster? Orner hits the right notes and no others."
    Mark Schone, New York Times Book Revew
  • "Peter Orner's debut reads like a perfectly formed masterpiece of such idiosyncratic
    voice and story that I can't imagine my shelves now without it."
    Alexandra Fuller, author of
  • "Mavala Shikongo is one of the most deftly rendered and unforgettable characters in recent fiction. The men of Goas fall in love with her and the reader is helpless, too--she is a revolution unto herself. Orner's book is always elegant and always true, and its wistful and even hallucinatory mood haunts the mind for months after finishing it."
    Dave Eggers
  • "Lyrical, comical, full-blown . . . A gifted short-story writer gives us his first booklength work of fiction, and does so with flair and panache."
    Alan Cheuse, Chicago Tribune

On Sale
May 16, 2007
Page Count
336 pages
Back Bay Books

Peter Orner

About the Author

Peter Orner, a two-time recipient of the Pushcart Prize, is the author of five previous books, including the novel Love and Shame and Love and the collection Esther Stories, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. His memoir Am I Alone Here? was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His fiction has appeared in The Atlantic, The Paris Review, Tin House, and Granta, and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories. The recipient of the Rome Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Fullbright to Namibia, Orner holds the Darmouth Professorship of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College.

Learn more about this author