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Letter from his Father

Nadine Gordimer, 20 October 1983

... My dear son, You wrote me a letter you never sent. It wasn’t for me – it was for the whole world to read. (You and your instructions that everything should be burned. Hah!) You were never open and frank with me – that’s one of the complaints you say I was always making against you. You write it in the letter you didn’t want me to read; so what does that sound like, eh? But I’ve read the letter now, I’ve read it anyway, I’ve read everything, although you said I put your books on the night-table and never touched them ...

Dry Eyes

John Bayley, 5 December 1991

Jump and Other Stories 
by Nadine Gordimer.
Bloomsbury, 257 pp., £13.99, October 1991, 0 7475 1020 2
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Wilderness Tips 
by Margaret Atwood.
Bloomsbury, 247 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 7475 1019 9
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... South Africa, how would she be exercising her art? Could she find any subject other than the one Nadine Gordimer writes about? A great, even a good writer does not find his subject, it takes him over: he becomes it, and the world it has brought with it. But there exist situations in which this is necessarily not the case. Not only the subject but the ...

What his father gets up to

Patrick Parrinder, 13 September 1990

My Son’s Story 
by Nadine Gordimer.
Bloomsbury, 277 pp., £13.99, September 1990, 0 7475 0764 3
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Age of Iron 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 181 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 0 436 20012 0
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... A novelist’s freedom, Nadine Gordimer wrote in 1975, is ‘his right to maintain and publish to the world a deep, intense, private view of the situation in which he finds his society’. In her new novel, Will, the son named by his book-loving father after William Shakespeare, describes the secret lives led by his parents ...

Test Case

Robert Taubman, 3 September 1981

July’s People 
by Nadine Gordimer.
Cape, 160 pp., £5.95, September 1981, 0 224 01932 5
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The Company of Women 
by Mary Gordon.
Cape, 291 pp., £6.50, July 1981, 0 224 01955 4
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Zuckerman Unbound 
by Philip Roth.
Cape, 225 pp., £5.95, August 1981, 0 224 01974 0
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... villagers. All human instinct argues that this is not, after all, an impossible situation. Nadine Gordimer, in her unsparing new novel, suggests otherwise. Her recent Burger’s Daughter, though bleak in its conclusions, was more diffuse and humane; it dealt with an earlier stage in South African history. Set only a little later in time, and in a ...

Vies de Bohème

D.A.N. Jones, 23 April 1987

A Sport of Nature 
by Nadine Gordimer.
Cape, 396 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 224 02447 7
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Trust 
by Mary Flanagan.
Bloomsbury, 290 pp., £10.95, April 1987, 0 7475 0001 0
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... For almost forty years Nadine Gordimer has been publishing gallant and sensitive stories deploring the apartheid system in her native South Africa. Every book is received with respectful, almost ritual lamentations by London reviewers, reminded of the days of their youth – for the apartheid regime has a longer history than Nazi Germany or even Franco’s Spain ...

Saboteurs

Sylvia Clayton, 5 April 1984

Something Out There 
by Nadine Gordimer.
Cape, 203 pp., £8.50, March 1984, 0 224 02189 3
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My Search for Warren Harding 
by Robert Plunket.
Robin Clark, 247 pp., £8.95, March 1984, 0 86072 071 3
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West of Sunset 
by Dirk Bogarde.
Allen Lane, 248 pp., £8.95, March 1984, 9780713916324
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... Nadine Gordimer continues to send sane, humane reports from the edge of darkness. In her finest stories she fixes authoritatively the experience of her South African characters, who exist in the shadow of a gun. They are menaced by repressive laws, unpredictable violence and a cruel historical process; their small domestic treacheries can carry a fatal undertow of danger ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Meaney: Coetzee’s Diaries, 21 May 2015

... for it: it is the idea of a domestic life for SS men that offends us most deeply. Inevitably, Nadine Gordimer surfaces in Coetzee’s papers as an antagonist. He considers basing the heroine of Age of Iron on her: ‘She writes novels, has cancer, faces the failure of her career.’ Coetzee doesn’t have the stomach for ...

Booker Books

Frank Kermode, 22 November 1979

... to the general but have won the respect of professional critics, who are favoured: V.S. Naipaul, Nadine Gordimer, David Storey, Paul Scott, Iris Murdoch, for instance. Beyond that it isn’t easy to see much significance in the list – perhaps there’s a nostalgia for the old Empire (Scott, J.G. Farrell, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, plus ...

The End

Angela Carter, 18 September 1986

A Land Apart: A South African Reader 
edited by André Brink and J.M. Coetzee.
Faber, 252 pp., £9.95, August 1986, 0 571 13933 7
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Where Sixpence lives 
by Norma Kitson.
Chatto, 352 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 7011 3085 7
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... for prophecy, denunciation or rhetoric of any kind. The English section, which has 17 writers – Nadine Gordimer is represented twice – stretches itself to include poetry and autobiography. Because of the presence of black and Coloured writers, there is less psychological violence here and more of the ordinary, physical kind. Joel Matlou’s harrowing ...

Nothing Terrible Happened

Sophie Harrison: Nadine Gordimer, 14 January 2002

The Pickup 
by Nadine Gordimer.
Bloomsbury, 270 pp., £16.99, September 2001, 0 7475 5427 7
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... in the country they live in – is their lives’ sudden inconsequentiality. The characters in Nadine Gordimer’s previous novels have generally had some kind of social purpose – they are lawyers, or doctors, or ‘politicals’ of one kind or another. But Julie and her friends have no purpose, no particular place in the world. She’s the daughter ...

A Use for the Stones

Jacqueline Rose: On Being Nadine Gordimer, 20 April 2006

Get a Life 
by Nadine Gordimer.
Bloomsbury, 187 pp., £16.99, November 2005, 0 7475 8175 4
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... direst of all threats in the world’s collective fear,’ the narrator says halfway through Nadine Gordimer’s latest novel, Get a Life, ‘beyond terrorism, suicide bombings, introduction of deadly viruses, fatal chemical substances in innocent packaging, Mad Cow Disease – is “nuclear capability”.’ This does not mean that the ...

At the Pompidou

Jeremy Harding: David Goldblatt, 26 April 2018

... of the Rand, a selection of Goldblatt’s photos appeared in Optima magazine with an essay by Nadine Gordimer, ‘A Time and Tailings’. Born in a mining town about 75 kilometres east of Randfontein, Gordimer described the mines as ‘the black man’s baptism by darkness and dust into Western ...

An Unreliable Friend

R.W. Johnson: Nelson Mandela, 19 August 1999

Mandela: The Authorised Biography 
by Anthony Sampson.
HarperCollins, 500 pp., £24.99, May 1999, 0 00 255829 7
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... seen as the supreme paradigm both of colonial exploitation and of black-white relations – what Nadine Gordimer called ‘the last great colonial extravaganza’. Having seen apartheid crumble and the ANC come to power, such folk know that good has triumphed over evil and that if any problems persist, they can only be due to the legacy of ...

Liminal

Megan Vaughan: Colonial Psychology, 23 March 2006

The Coloniser and the Colonised 
by Albert Memmi, translated by Howard Greenfield.
Earthscan, 197 pp., £12.95, October 2003, 1 84407 040 9
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... he accepts or rejects them matters little.’ In her introduction to this edition of the book, Nadine Gordimer takes Memmi to task for his summary dismissal of the left and his refusal to see a role for the ‘coloniser who refuses’. Drawing largely on Southern African history, which Memmi could be forgiven for not anticipating, ...

Stony Ground

Peter D. McDonald: J.M. Coetzee, 20 October 2005

J.M. Coetzee and the Ethics of Reading: Literature in the Event 
by Derek Attridge.
Chicago, 225 pp., £13.50, May 2005, 0 226 03117 9
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Slow Man 
by J.M. Coetzee.
Secker, 265 pp., £16.99, September 2005, 0 436 20611 0
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... but chary review of The Life and Times of Michael K (1983) in the New York Review of Books, Nadine Gordimer wrote about J.M. Coetzee’s ‘conscious choice’ of allegory as a literary mode in his first three novels. The reasons for this, she speculated, were temperamental: It seemed he did so out of a kind of opposing desire to hold himself ...

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