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A communist in the family: searching for Rewi Alley

Date: Wednesday 8 July 2020, 5:30pm to 6:30pm
Cost: Free event. Koha from non-members appreciated
Contact details: ATLOutreach@dia.govt.nz

Elspeth Sandys talks about her recent book in which she tells the story of her ‘Uncle Rewi’ Alley’s life and work in the context of his time. This is a multi-layered narrative that is part biography, part travel journal, and part literary commentary.

Multi-layered narrative

‘A Communist in the Family: Searching for Rewi Alley’ is a beautifully written multi-layered narrative, part-biography, part-travel journal, part-literary commentary. Sandys travelled to China with other family members to mark the ninetieth anniversary of Rewi's arrival in Shanghai in 1927.

One strand of the book follows this journey and she tells the story of her ‘Uncle Rewi’s’ early life in an insightful meditation on the complex and always elusive relationship between memory and writing. By placing the man, Rewi Alley, and his work in the context of his time and place, Elspeth is able to illuminate the life of this extraordinary New Zealander in a way that is both historically vivid and relevant to the world of today.

The Alexander Turnbull Library holds extensive collections of material relating to Rewi Alley from his archives and from those of biographers, friends and colleagues.

About the speaker

Wellington novelist Elspeth Sandys has published nine novels, two collections of short stories and two memoirs. She has written extensively for the BBC and for RNZ as well as for TV and film.

‘A Communist in the Family: Searching for Rewi Alley’ was published by Otago University Press in 2019.

Friends of the Turnbull
Otago University Press

A group photo of people around a table of food.
Rewi Alley and his Chinese family, ca. 1983 Rewi Alley Photographs. Ref: PA1-1-655-07-1. Alexander Turnbull Library.