Nature of Blood [NOOK Book]


A German Jewish girl whose life and death are shaped by the atrocities of World War II...her uncle, who undermines the sureties of his own life in order to fight for Israeli statehood...the Jews of the sixteenth-century Venetian ghetto, trapped both literally and figuratively by rabid prejudice...Othello, newly arrived in Venice...a young Ethiopian Jewish woman resettled in Israel: these are the people whose stories fill "The Nature of Blood" and who, despite their clear differences, share the weight of memory as...
See more details below
Nature of Blood

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.99 price


A German Jewish girl whose life and death are shaped by the atrocities of World War II...her uncle, who undermines the sureties of his own life in order to fight for Israeli statehood...the Jews of the sixteenth-century Venetian ghetto, trapped both literally and figuratively by rabid prejudice...Othello, newly arrived in Venice...a young Ethiopian Jewish woman resettled in Israel: these are the people whose stories fill "The Nature of Blood" and who, despite their clear differences, share the weight of memory as burden and sustenance. Their individual voices - delineated with masterful precision - speak out of profound depths of feeling about their worlds and their experiences of persecution, courage, and betrayal. But they move beyond the particulars of their own stories as well, their voices twining in an intricate narrative fabric that tells the larger, timeless story of ethnic hatred and racism; of the powers of faith and the shock of its loss; of the cruel patterns of repetition that mar humankind's history, and the crystalline significance of each individual within its sweep.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In all his novels, Phillips ("Crossing the River", etc.), born in St. Kitts and raised in England, has experimented with voice to convey the dislocations of slavery, colonialism and postcolonialism. His sixth novel surges as well with the themes of his earlier fiction; the experience of homelessness, the wounds and blindnesses of racism. It deals with unexpected subject matter, however: the Holocaust, allowing Phillips to boldly challenge notions of essential ethnic identity by turning from the experience of slavery to that of the German concentration camps, from pan-African nationalism to Zionism. The novel's primary voice belongs to Eva Stern, a young woman who has just been liberated by the English army from a German camp. Through a series of flashbacks and recollections, Eva remembers life with her family, and then her experience in the camp. Phillips intercuts Eva's story with two wildly discontinuous narratives: one a retelling of the story of Othello in Othello's own voice; the other an account of the 15th-century persecution of the money-lending Jews of the Italian city Portobuffole, who were accused of murdering a Christian child. Additional narratives flow in and out, including those of Gerry, the English soldier who asks Eva to marry him, and of Eva's Uncle Stephen, who left Germany to assist in the formation of the Jewish state in Israel; there are encyclopedic glosses on Othello and on the etymology of the word "ghetto" as well. Phillips makes little effort to impose coherence or to tie together loose ends, a technique that may frustrate some readers. But he brilliantly captures his various protagonists' voices, evoking their common humanity as they struggle with and against social definitions of the nature of their blood.
Library Journal
A range of characters inhabit Phillips's new novel, a Jewish doctor who gives up family and security to fight for Israel; the Jews of 15th-century Portobufole, outside Venice, who are tolerated as useful but arrested and tortured when rumor of a Gentile child's blood sacrifice gets going; Othello, honored in Venice but ever the outsider ("my friend, an African river bears no resemblance to a Venetian canal. Only the strongest spirit can hold together both"); and an Ethiopian Jewish woman, ignorant of the modern world, who has returned home to Israel. At the heart of the novel, but not exactly holding together its shimmering, disparate parts is Eva Stern, niece of the crusading Jewish doctor, who recounts tensions in her family before World War II devastates Europe and then the horror of concentration and d.p. camps in an unadorned, dispassionate voice. Not as compactly written as works like Phillips's "Cambridge" (LJ 2/1/92), this novel nevertheless evokes a sense of the outsider's awful burden throughout time. Recommended for most collections. Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
Kirkus Reviews
The West Indian born author of "Crossing the River" (1994), among other fiction, here offers an earnest novel composed of parallel narratives, each exploring the consequences of racial or ethnic prejudice and hatred.

In the central story, Phillips traces the life of Eva Stern, a German Jew who survives both the loss of her family and her own sufferings in a concentration camp during WW II, only to learn that "liberation" can't free her from the pain of memories or the guilt of having lived when so many died. Closely related subplots examine the emotions of a British soldier who pleads unsuccessfully for Eva's hand in marriage, and the loneliness endured by her uncle Stephan, who abandons his wife and child to participate in the building of the new state of Israel. Another major narrative block describes the persecution of 15th-century Jewish moneylenders accused of the ritual murder of a Christian child. This is a baldly discursive sequence, scarcely fictionalized at all, and weighted with redundancies. And, in a surprising change of pace—and skillful piece of writing—Phillips retells the story of Othello's passion for Desdemona and his fruitless attempts to blend into Venetian society, all in the Moor's own limpid, sensuous, lushly imagistic language. Various tricks with perspective and voice scattered throughout these several stories fail to disguise the obvious fact that Eva Stern's is by far the most powerful—and that its power is vitiated by all those sudden unannounced shifts of subject and tone. Whatever the novel gains in thematic coherence from its odd structure, it loses in the reader's frequently distracted relationship to its most compelling character.

An interesting concept, but Phillips's virtuosity calls all too much attention to itself. Not one of this talented author's better books.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307488596
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/23/2009
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 820,309
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Caryl Phillips is the author of five previous novels, The Final Passage, A State of Independence, Higher Ground, Cambridge, and Crossing the River (shortlisted for the Booker Prize). Awards he has received include the Martin Luther King Memorial Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. He divides his time between London and New York City.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 1 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 – 2 of 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2008


    This book was not like anyother book I read, it is unbelivablr how Mr. Phillips knows so much, and writes with such passion, this is one book you will not put done, the way the stories meld, is so different, from others, for such a young man his historcial facts are perfect, this one is a tear jerker, outstanding book,

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 2 of 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)