Novelist Potok (The Chosen) presents here the history of a family of Soviet Jews centered on the relationship of father and son. Solomon Slepak was an old-guard Bolshevik who never lost his faith in the party--and survived the Stalinist purges miraculously and mysteriously (Stalin exterminated almost all old party members). His son, Volodya, grew up believing in the party but, as he married and started raising a family, came to question the Communist system and eventually became a refusenik, a dissident who protested openly against the regime. The author met Volodya and his wife, Masha, in 1985 while on a trip to Moscow. This compelling account, which is also a chronicle of the Soviet dissident movement, highlights the heroism, and sacrifice, of those who stand up to the power of a totalitarian state. (Nov.) FYI: The title comes from a line of poetry by Aleksandr Pushkin.