Cover image for Ties of blood
Ties of blood
Slovo, Gillian, 1952-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Morrow, [1989]

General Note:
"First published by Michael Joseph Ltd. in Great Britain, 1989"-- T.p. verso.
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Author Notes

She is a novelist living in London. She is the daughter of the anti-apartheid activists Joe Slovo & Ruth First.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

This multigenerational saga of two families, one white, one black, caught up in the struggle against apartheid, is a popular, fast-paced story that seems made for a television series. Slovo sets personal drama (much of it based on her own Jewish family) against an almost documentary account of her country's history, from the early twentieth century through the Sharpeville massacre, the children's uprising in Soweto, and the present state of emergency. The first generations leave shtetl and kraal for Johannesburg, but far from the formulaic rise to riches, they and their offspring find political commitment and sacrifice; prison, exile, even assassination; and, for the blacks, daily struggle with a brutal authority. There's some shallow writing, especially about white angst ("`I've grown up at last,' she thought in surprise"); nor does this have the controlled passion and ambiguity of A World Apart, the acclaimed film scripted by Slovo's sister about their radical family. But, like the film, the novel affirms the righteousness of the cause while not denying the pain of the individual, the burden of the children. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

The struggle for freedom and equality in South Africa takes center stage in this hefty, sprawling novel of four generations of two South African matriarchies--the descendants, respectively, of Jewish Lithuanian immigrants and of a Xhosa chief. In her attempt to animate 20th-century history, however, mystery writer Slovo ( Morbid Symptoms ), daughter of exiled South African activists, has produced, at best, a sequence of tableaux: the miners' strike of the 1920s, the Defiance Campaign of the 1950s, the shanties of Soweto, penal farms, Pretoria prisons, political exile. These appalling contexts dwarf her undeveloped characters, depicted as ``chains of women bound by ties of blood, of guilt, and of duty.'' As they age, the women of one generation are nearly always replaced in the limelight by daughters who embody the day's progressive politics. The political convictions of the protagonists, whose lack of dimension is exacerbated by wooden dialogue, seem merely pietistic. Failing to give life to her characters' conflicts, Slovo has failed to do justice to her subject. Literary Guild alternate; author tour . (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved