Nadine Gordimer: A Life In South Africa

3078 words - 12 pages

“Writing is making sense of life. You work your whole life and perhaps you’ve made sense of one small area.”- Nadine GordimerNadine Gordimer is not your typical, everyday author who strictly puts his or her mind to writing simply another novel or short story. Nadine Gordimer expresses her feelings on apartheid and the separation blacks often felt during her time in South Africa. Born and raised in South Africa, Gordimer often observed the hardships and struggles that African Americans faced every day. Her writing style clearly explains the time of despair and apartheid she so often saw. Gordimer, who is currently 83 years old, still today continues to express her feelings and fights for black equality in the country of South Africa.


Nadine Gordimer was born on November 20, 1923, and grew up in Springs, Transvaal, South Africa. Her hometown was the setting of her first novel, The Lying Days. She was born to Jewish immigrant parents and into a very well-off family. But the community which Gordimer grew up in was not one expected from such a high class family. In such a racially divided South African nation, Gordimer began writing about the experiences she witnessed at an early age. Blacks were often discriminated against and from her early childhood, Gordimer saw how the white minority slowly weakened the rights of the black majority.


Gordimer’s mother played a huge role in her childhood, as she basically followed her everywhere she went. In an interview conducted in the fall of 1979 and the spring of 1980, Gordimer explained just how significant her mother was during her childhood years.After contracting a major heart ailment when she was eleven years old, Gordimer’s mother was forced to withdraw her daughter from school and began getting privately tutored. So during those years, from eleven to sixteen, Gordimer and her mother’s relationship grew, as she went everywhere with her. As she explained in the interview, “I had no contact with other children. I spent my whole life, from eleven to sixteen, with older people, with people of my mother’s generation. She carted me round to tea parties—I simply lived her life. When she and my father went out at night to dinner she took me along… I got to the stage where I could really hardly talk to other children. I was a little old woman. (Smith par. 7).” It was during this time period that Gordimer grew a passion for books—all types of books; novels, stories, magazines, newspapers. She began becoming aware of what was going on around her community and the tensions brewing within the South African society.


When she turned 13, her works finally began going public as her first short story for children, “Come Again Tomorrow,” was published in the Johannesburg magazine Forum. Just two years later, Gordimer began writing her stories for adults and her works were often published in the New Yorker. It was in 1948 that apartheid was formalized, and in 1949 Gordimer’s...

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