Philida by André Brink - review by Gillian Slovo

Gillian Slovo

A Voice Unchained

Philida

By

Harvill Secker 310pp £14.99 order from our bookshop
 

There’s a passage in André Brink’s latest, Booker longlisted novel that summons back his 1982 A Chain of Voices. The similarities between the two were already evident: both books are set in the dying days of slavery and both explore the violent interactions between master and slave. But the connection is directly drawn when the new book’s namesake, the knitting slave Philida, is taken by her master to see the desiccated skull of a former slave, Galant, whose 1825 rebellion is the subject of A Chain of Voices

Galant had been driven to kill his master, once his boyhood friend, by a combination of mistreatment, betrayal and the murder of a child. But more than this he did it because, as the verdict against him reads: ‘once the idea of being oppressed has entered into and taken root

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