Life and works of Nadine Gordimer (1923-2014): African writer

nodaine gordimer
Categories : World Literature
Nadine Gordimer
Nadine Gordimer

Nadine Gordimer

Nadine Gordimer (20 November 1923 – 13 July 2014) was a South African writer and political activist.

She received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991, recognized as a writer “who through her magnificent epic writing has … been of very great benefit to humanity”.

• South African writer, political activist and recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature
• Born into a well-off family in Springs, a mining town outside Johannesburg in 1923
• Her father was a Jew originally from Latvia and her mother of British descent
• Witnessed the oppression of the black majority by the white minority from her early childhood
• First collection of short stories, Face to Face (1949)

Actively involved in the anti-apartheid movement, joining the African National Congress during the days
when the organization was banned
• Also helped Mandela edit his famous speech I Am Prepared To Die, given from the defendant’s dock at the trial; one of the first people Mandela wanted to see when released from prison in 1990
• Many of Gordimer’s books, including July’s People, were banned by the Apartheid regime in South Africa.
• Never considered going into exile; but in the 1960s and 1970s lectured at universities in the USA
• Her books and short stories have been published in forty languages.


• The Lying Days (1953) – First published novel; set in her hometown Springs; a semi-autobiographical
work; a Bildungsroman depicting the growing political awareness of a young white woman, Helen,
toward small-town life and South African racial division.
• Occasion for Loving (1963) – Puts apartheid and love together; protagonist, Ann Davis (white), is
married to Boaz Davis, but in love with Gideon Shibalo (black) at a time when South Africa’s
government criminalized such relationships.

• A Guest of Honour (1970)

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A Guest of Honour

A Guest of Honour is a 1970 fictional novel by Nobel winning South African writer Nadine Gordimer. Published four years after her novel The Late Bourgeois World, the novel is a political novel that explores the role of revolutionary ideas in new African states.

The Conservationist (1974)
• Joint winner of the Booker Prize in 1974 – The other winner was the British novelist Stanley
Middleton’s Holiday
• Explores Zulu culture and the world of wealthy white industrialists through the eyes of
Mehring, the antihero, a conservative capitalist

Burger’s Daughter (1979)
• Historical and political novel rooted in the antiapartheid struggle
• Refers to actual events and people from that period, including Nelson Mandela and the
1976 Soweto uprising

• Details a group of white anti-apartheid activists in South Africa seeking to overthrow the
• Setting in the mid-1970s, and follows the life of Rosa Burger

July’s People (1981)
• Set during a fictional civil war in which black South Africans have violently overturned the
system of apartheid
• The story follows the Smales, a liberal White South African family who were forced to flee
Johannesburg to the native village of their black servant, July

Some More Novels

• A Sport of Nature (1987)
– Follows the story of Hillela, a white South African woman, from her self-absorbed adolescence in Johannesburg to her years as the wife of the black president of South Africa.
• The House Gun (1998)
– Follows the story of a couple, Claudia and Harald Lingard, dealing with their son Duncan’s murder of one of his housemates; the novel treats the rising crime rate in South Africa and the guns that virtually all
households have
• The Pickup (2001)
– Tells the story of a couple: Julie Summers, a white woman from a financially secure family, and Abdu, an illegal Arab immigrant in South Africa
• Get a Life (2005)
– Narrates the story of environmental activist Paul Bannerman and his family
• No Time Like the Present (2012)

Also read: Ngugi wa Thiong’o : Nigerian Writer, Shakespeare history : Part one

noble prize :

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