Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe - review by John Dugdale

John Dugdale

Miami Splice

Back to Blood


Jonathan Cape 704pp £20

In the opening chapter of Tom Wolfe’s latest novel, Ed Topping, editor of the Miami Herald, has just watched his wife lose an argument in a restaurant car park – a defeat that will come to seem emblematic – with a woman who refuses to speak anything but Spanish. Religions are dying, he muses, but ‘everybody still has to believe in something … and that leaves only the bloodlines that course through our bodies’. For Latinos, Arabs, WASPs like himself, everyone, there is ‘no choice but – Back to blood!

Topping is a pampered patrician and timid, over-promoted editor, so it would be rash to see this view as authorially endorsed. Yet those who have read Wolfe’s earlier works will recognise an issue that’s close to an obsession; indeed, the new novel’s title can also be seen as an acknowledgement,

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