Sunday, March 16, 2008

Great stories from a favorite writer

I read my first Nadine Gordimer novel about fifteen years ago. It was "July's People", a story about a hypothetical revolution in South Africa, where a family accepts their black servant's offer of safety and refuge in his village. The results of this decision are life changing for this family. It is a story that has stayed with me and made me want to read more of Dame Gordimer's fiction. Our book group has gone on to read many of Dame Gordimer's novels over the years. We have read "Burger's Daughter", "The House Gun", and most recently "The Pickup". Dame Gordimer has received numerous international prizes over the years for her writing, most notably the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991.

I always want to return to Nadine Gordimer's writing because I enjoy it so such. It is subtle, always keeping the reader on guard. There is a density and a tension in her prose. I want to read it quickly to find the outcome, but I often have to reread her sentences to make sure I have read it correctly. I am currently reading a collection of sixteen short stories by Nadine Gordimer called, "Jump And Other Stories". The stories are a journey through different cultures, from the war in Mozambique, to the beaches of southern France, to London and an affluent suburb in Johannesburg. These stories go beyond the racial segregation and strife of the apartheid in Dame Gordimer's usual writing. One of my favorites is a story called, "Some Are Born To Sweet Delight". It is a story about a teenager who falls in love with a lodger in her family's home. He is a terrorist and the story ends in a now too familiar tragedy. The stories are markedly different from each other, giving the reader a unique experience each time they open the book. "Once Upon A Time" is a story about a couple so paranoid about the racial strife encroaching their affluent suburb that they create their own tragedy.

I find a great collection of short stories to be a wonderful way to read when I don't have a lot of time but I want to read something substantial and engrossing. Nadine Gordimer never fails!

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