Cover image for Mother to mother
Mother to mother
Magona, Sindiwe.
Personal Author:
First Beacon Press edition.
Publication Information:
Boston : Beacon Press, 1999.

Physical Description:
vi, 210 pages ; 23 cm
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Sold in packs of ten, this pocket-size book is ideal for personal study and daily Bible reading, with prayers and Scripture passages brought together for use throughout the entire calendar year. Scriptures are included for each Sunday based on the Revised Common Lectionary.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

The senseless killing of Amy Biehl, a young Fulbright scholar who had gone to South Africa to help residents prepare for the first democratic elections in the history of that country, is the basis for this novel. On the day before she was scheduled to return home to America in August 1993, Amy gave a ride to several co-workers who lived in the poverty-ravaged all-black township of Guguletu. Rioting students pulled her from her car and stabbed her. South African novelist and short story writer Sindiwe Magona eschews a tabloid recreation of the crime, envisioning instead the world of Amy's killers, and creating in Mandisa, the mother of one of those young men, a martyr whose heart and life reflect the tragedy of apartheid. As her son Mxolisi's guilt is revealed, Mandisa mourns him, equating her loss with Amy's mother's. Determined to strike a common chord of grief with the woman she views as her Sister-Mother, Mandisa laments the circumstances of her own life, thereby hoping to explain her son's actions. She recalls with affecting clarity her coming of age in a stern but loving community whose reliance on established customs are a refuge from the relentless and brutal change instigated by the government's apartheid policy. Happy until the age of nine, when her family is forced to relocate to a desolate patch of land, Mandisa becomes a mother at 15 and a housemaid shortly thereafter. Mxolisi's introduction to racial violence occurs as a child, when he witnesses the shooting deaths of two older boys whom he idolizes; by age 20, he's become a respected leader of the student revolutionary movement. Although Magona's pacing seems irritatingly slow at times, the mood becomes taut as Mxolisi and Amy approach their moment of destiny in this chilling and ingenious docudrama, a noteworthy American debut for a writer whose work has received well-deserved praise in her own country. 3-city author tour. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Based on the death of Amy Biehl, a white American student killed by black youths in South Africa in 1993, this novel looks at the murder through the eyes of the killer's mother (in the novel, only one youth committed the crime). In a letter to the murdered woman's mother, Mandisa tells the story of her oldest son, Mxolisi, born when she was 14. Growing up under apartheid, with little education, crushing poverty, and no hope for the future, Mxolisi becomes one of the lost ones, so full of rage that every white face becomes the enemy and freedom is won only through blood. Yet as Magona shows, each character must share some responsibility for the tragedy that destroys two families, making this more than simply a novelization of a headline. Magona's portrayal of one mother's suffering is written with depth, honesty, and compassion for all of apartheid's victims. First published in South Africa in 1998, this is recommended for large public libraries and libraries with collections of modern African literature.ÄEllen Flexman, Indianapolis-Marion Cty. P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Sindiwe Magona's novel Mother to Mother explores the South African legacy of apartheid through the lens of a woman who remembers a life marked by oppression and injustice
Magona decided to write this novel when she discovered that Fulbright Scholar Amy Biehl, who had been killed while working to organize the nation's first ever democratic elections in 1993, died just a few yards away from her own permanent residence in Guguletu, Capetown
She then learned that one of the boys held responsible for the killing was in fact her neighbor's son
Magona began to imagine how easily it might have been her own son caught up in the wave of violence that day
The book is based on this real-life incident, and takes the form of an epistle to Amy Biehl's mother
The murderer's mother, Mandisi, writes about her life, the life of her child, and the colonized society that not only allowed, but perpetuated violence against women and impoverished black South Africans under the reign of apartheid
The result is not an apology for the murder, but a beautifully written exploration of the society that bred such violence