Nadine Gordimer

Franklin Library Nadine Gordimer books

Jump and Other Stories - signed first edition - 1991


Writer Nadine Gordimer

Nadine Gordimer, born on November 20, 1923, in Springs, a small mining town near Johannesburg, South Africa, was a renowned and influential writer, Nobel laureate, and anti-apartheid activist. She passed away on July 13, 2014, leaving behind a legacy of literary excellence and a commitment to social justice. Gordimer's early life was shaped by the turbulent political landscape of South Africa, marked by racial segregation and institutionalized discrimination under apartheid. She was of Jewish and European descent, growing up in a society fraught with racial tension and inequality. This environment deeply influenced her worldview and became a central theme in much of her work.

Her literary career began in the 1940s, and her first novel, The Lying Days, was published in 1953. Over the next several decades, Gordimer produced a prolific body of work, including novels, short stories, and essays. Her writing skillfully explored the complexities of human relationships, often set against the backdrop of the oppressive political system of apartheid.

Gordimer's commitment to social justice extended beyond her writing. She was an active member of the anti-apartheid movement, using her voice to advocate for racial equality and political reform. Throughout her life, she faced censorship and harassment from the apartheid government due to the controversial nature of her work. In 1991, Nadine Gordimer was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, recognizing her as a literary figure who "through her magnificent epic writing has—in the words of Alfred Nobel—been of very great benefit to humanity." The Nobel Committee praised her for her "magnificent epic writing" that contributed significantly to the understanding of the historical and social forces at play in South Africa.

Gordimer's notable works include Burger's Daughter, July's People, and The Conservationist. These novels delved into the intricate dynamics of power, race, and identity, providing readers with a nuanced understanding of the human experience in the face of political turmoil. Once Upon a Time by Nadine Gordimer is a short story  that was first published in 1989 and is known for its exploration of issues related to apartheid in South Africa.

Once Upon a Time by Nadine Gordimer

Once Upon a Time explores themes related to societal fear, racism, and the consequences of living in a divided and oppressive environment, particularly during the apartheid era in South Africa. The story reflects on the impact of fear and how it can manifest in unexpected ways, ultimately leading to tragic consequences. One key theme in the story is the idea of perceived threats and the lengths to which individuals and communities may go to protect themselves. The characters in the story respond to their fears by building walls and taking extreme measures to secure their homes. This physical manifestation of fear becomes a metaphor for the broader societal issues related to segregation and discrimination.

The narrative also delves into the consequences of living in a society where people are divided based on race and class. The characters' attempts to protect themselves create a cycle of mistrust and paranoia, highlighting the destructive nature of such social divisions. Gordimer's Once Upon a Time serves as a poignant critique of the social and political conditions of apartheid-era South Africa. It urges readers to reflect on the consequences of fear, prejudice, and segregation, encouraging a deeper understanding of the human cost of living in a society marked by such divisions.

Throughout her life, Nadine Gordimer remained committed to the principles of justice and equality, and her writing continues to serve as a powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of oppression. Her legacy endures as a beacon of inspiration for those who strive for a more just and equitable world.


Jump and Other Stories

A collection of fiction from a Nobel Prize-winning author spans the globe, showing glimpses of human nature with stories about racism, family life, terrorism, love, and fear.

In these sixteen stories ranging from the dynamics of family life to the worldwide confusion of human values, Nadine Gordimer gives us access to many lives in places as far apart as suburban London, Mozambique, a mythical island, and South Africa. In "Some Are Born to Sweet Delight, "a girl's innocent love for an enigmatic foreign lodger in her parents' home leads her to involve others in a tragedy of international terrorism." The Moment Before the Gun Went Off" reveals the strange mystery behind an accident in which a white farmer has killed a black boy. "Once Upon a Time" is a horrifying fairy tale about a child raised in a society founded on fear.

Nadine Gordimer gives us access to many lives in places as far apart as suburban London, Mozambique, a mythical island, and South Africa. With unflinching depictions of how South Africa's apartheid policies drove racial inequality, wartime atrocities, marital strife, and family struggles, Gordimer's stories feature characters coping with morality in unjust societies uncovering both the beauty and tragedy found in human interactions with each other and with the natural world.

These stories take the reader on journeys across cultures, from the war in Mozambique to the beaches of the South of France, from the affluent suburbs of Johannesburg to the back streets of London, over political territories from the Underground to revolution.

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