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Maru (African Writers Series) Paperback – January 23, 1997

3.9 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Bessie Head, one of Africa's best known writers, was born in South Africa but spent much of her life in Botswana. She died tragically early, in 1986, leaving behind her a fine collection of literary works. Tales of Tenderness and Power was the first of her works to be published after her death, and another anthology, A Woman Alone, has also been published posthumously. Both these titles reinforce Bessie Head's literary achievements, already evident in her novels Maru, When Rain clouds Gather, The Cardinals, A Collector of Treasures, A Question of Power, and her historical account Serowe: Village of the Rain Wind, which are all available in the Heinemann African Writer Series.
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Product Details

  • Series: African Writers Series
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Heinemann (January 23, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0435909630
  • ISBN-13: 978-0435909635
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,949,391 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Political, romantic, and dense, what a wonderful and well-written book. I came upon this book by accident and became quite delighted with the story. The characters and the town really came alive on the pages. The imagery was beautiful and mythic. I just wish it were longer.
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Format: Paperback
What a strange novella. Skillful in many areas, but dominated by a bizarre and manipulative non-romance - I'm not sure what to think, or what the author was trying to do. None of the positive reviews I've read address the problems with it, so if you have some insight, please do share.

This review will be full of SPOILERS, because the book is only 127 pages long and so nearly everything is a spoiler, and also to fully explain my confusion. But the story begins at the end, so it isn't exactly a suspense-driven narrative.

Margaret is an orphan from a poor, marginalized and much-hated tribe in Botswana, but she's raised by a missionary, gets an education and becomes a teacher. Her first job is in a remote village where she knows no one, and many of the locals are horrified when they learn of her ethnicity. She handles this situation with grace, and finds fulfillment in setting up her home, developing her artistic talents, a friendship with another teacher and a crush on a local Lothario, who reciprocates her interest.

Enter Maru, the Lothario's best friend and the other teacher's brother, and here's where it gets weird. After one brief meeting, in which he confiscates her bed, Maru decides he wants to marry Margaret. So, he apologizes for his poor behavior and begins courting her, proving himself more steadfast than his friend... no wait, he doesn't, because that would make sense. Actually, he keeps his distance, has other people spy on her for him, and threatens his friend to stay away, ultimately coercing him into marrying Margaret's best friend. Margaret is heartbroken over this development, and Maru, of course, is concerned for her well-being:

"`Is she sick, Ranko?' he said smiling. `Is she dying? Don't worry about that. Let her suffer a bit.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The themes held in this book are truly beautiful. No one can be dissatisfied with Bessie Head’s strives for social justice and her attempts to annihilate racism, but this book is even beyond that. She makes her points about equality through an enthralling love story. The reader becomes educated about Africa, while also understanding the universal applications of righteousness in the book. Maru demonstrates the dynamics needed for a successful community, anti-anthropocentric philosophies, and shows the cruelty of indifference.

The main character Maru is deeply sensitive and is aware of his emotions, and also of the world around him. He feels the earth, the air, and the motions of life. With logic and love, Maru is able to create solutions beneficial for all. Dark thundercloud is what his name means, and it is overtly shown with his looming wisdom and powerful mind. Though despite his goodness, a balance is still needed. Moleka acts as an opposite to Maru, and so their society is able to flourish in a state of perfect equilibrium.

The book Maru dazzles the audience, and acts as a beacon of hope. Yet, with its poetic writing style, readers are able to interpret the novel for themselves and create themes beyond what I have already stated. I strongly recommend the thought provoking, and entrancing novel, Maru.
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Format: Paperback
Maru is rife with commentary on the history of conflict in Africa which stems from european colonialism and the clashes between african cultures in general. Margaret Cadmore the second’s life is defined by contradiction and conflict. She is Masarwa and thus rejected by the people of the village and is even left in a ditch to die as an infant, but is taken in by a british missionary with a more colonial attitude and given a western education. The fact that she is Masarwa results in her being ostracized by her fellow students. So Margaret 2’s origins can be summed up as born a pariah, raised by an outsider and denied her birth culture in favor of a western education, and is then further persecuted by those who were raised in her birth culture. That is her life until she goes to Dilepei where she is still not accepted. WIthin Margret we see the conflict of multiple cultures which have marked African culture: the imperialistic attitude of the west towards african culture at large, and the way that the Masarwa have been marginalized in turn by other african tribes. Margaret’s story of overcoming adversity sends a powerful message about how cultural prejudice can be overcome. Even though she is just one school teacher in this one corner of the world Head still implies that through these small but fundamentally human stories are the cornerstone upon which great waves of change can be built.

Written by Molly and Michael.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Maru is a story about the reaches of oppression within the village of Dilepe in Botswana. It is a fascinating story which examines how oppression and prejudice are maintained, and how they might be overcome. This is accomplished against the captivating backdrop of village life; scenes are depicted in such a way that the reader can imagine themselves in the story. Overall an excellent read that provides a rich view of life in Botswana.
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