Mandela's Children

Ora Mendels, Author Little Brown and Company $16.45 (294p) ISBN 978-0-316-54506-8
Concerned with the horrors of apartheid, this self-conscious and amply detailed novel centers on Ruth Harris, former South African activist now teaching history at the University of Pennsylvania. It is hard to credit that, after 20 years, she would be asked to return to Johannesburg to convince Nelson Levine, whom she has never met, but who is the son of her imprisoned former lover, to leave his native land and thus escape certain capture. A medical student who supplies drugs and other gravely needed supplies to wounded blacks, Nelson rejects Ruth's arguments, reinforcing his stance by taking her to Soweto to witness the havoc and bloodletting there. En route, they are trapped in a violent confrontation with a murderous mob, and the spiral of tragedy continues to unfurl. Ruth is jailed, a terrible reminder of her youth. Mendels's narrative skill is not sufficiently acute to surmount the plot's initial implausibility, and her character development is likewise shallow. As a depiction of conditions in South Africa, however, the novel has a certain immediacy. (February 5)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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