Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Nadine Gordimer 1923-2014

Congratulations to Nadine Gordimer on a life well lived.

What a hand to be dealt in life--being born a white person in South Africa, raised up in racism, speaking truth through her pen, and then being criticized late in life for possible vestiges of racism.

What a gift to the world.  The LA Times obituary notes that she quoted Franz Kafka in seeing literature as "an ax to break up the frozen sea within us."


Her short novel July's People is a great way to meet her, if you haven't read her work.


July is a black employee to a privileged white family, but when they have to flee social upheaval, the tables are turned and he is their key to survival.

I started but didn't complete any of her novels.  (The fault was probably mine, not hers.)

In 1991 I appreciated having another woman win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

I know the historical contours of your life because my mother and mother-in-law were born in 1919 and 1922, so close to your birth.  You grew up between world wars, and unlike them, you also grew up in a Jewish family.

Thank you, Nadine, for carving writing time from the ups and downs of life--two marriages, two kids--and recording the effects of racism and apartheid.

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