The collective voice in The Madonna of Excelsior : narrating transformative possibilities

Zulu, N. S. (2006-06-30)

Please cite as follows:

Zulu, N. 2006. The collective voice in The Madonna of Excelsior: narrating transformative possibilities. Literator, 27(1):107-126, doi:10.4102/lit.v27i1.182.

The original publication is available at


The collective voice in the novel, “The Madonna of Excelsior” (2002), reveals that crossing of borders is a process characterised by cultural contact that reduces cultural polarisation and makes social transformation possible. This article examines the transformative potential of the novel. The first part of the novel indicates that the transformation of polarised South African society is inevitable, desirable and possible in order to normalise life. This transformation does, however, involve transgression and contestation of the old order. To present the possibility of transformation, the collective voice in the novel makes the Immorality Act the object of its satire, revealing the failure of apartheid nationalism and its master narrative. The alternative offered in the second part of the novel is a transforming macrocosm – a South African society that grapples with crossing apartheid’s borders.

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