Nadine Gordimer


I am told that one of the criteria for the Nobel Prize in Literature, apart from the quality of the means of expression, is that that the works of the writer should be of  “benefit to mankind”. (Nadine Gordimer in When Art Meets Politics). 

Thirteen novels. Over two hundred short stories. Several volumes of essays. Awarded fifteen honorary doctorates. Booker Prize winner in 1974 for The Conservationist.

 Nobel Prize recipient in 1991.


Born in South Africa, Nadine Gordimer devoted most of her writing career to benefit mankind through her anti-apartheid writings. In one of her early essays in Telling Times Gordimer defines apartheid from both white and black perspectives.

When you offer an African guest a drink, you break the law unequivocally; the exchange of beer between your hand and his could land you both in the police court on a serious charge.

I’m not saying that things haven’t changed in South Africa. What I’m saying is that Nadine Gordimer’s writing was partly responsible for this change. The world is better for her writing.


In her post-apartheid writing Gordimer’s message is still about justice and violence. In her novel The House Gun she has a black South African lawyer defend a white man for murder. But the most striking statement in this novel is that had there not been a gun there would not have been a murder.

 A house gun. If it hadn’t been there how could you defend yourself, in this city, against losing your hi-fi equipment, your television set and computer, your watch and rings, against being gagged, raped, knifed. If it hadn’t been there the man on the sofa would not be under the ground of the city.


Nadine Gordimer Quotes

Have you read any of Nadine Gordimer’s works? 


48 thoughts on “Nadine Gordimer

  1. Sad to say, I have not read any of her works. If I had more time, I’d be reading more. Nice to see another Novel Prize winner in Literature. It’s amazing how many women have won, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing friend. 🙂


  2. GL = giant “like”… she does deserve a post! 🙂 she’s very popular, appreciated and respected in France… a great contemporary writer, influenced by papa-Hemingway, one of my US favourite writers – I guess Steinbeck comes first… 🙂 just like them, Nadine has successfully “mixed”(combined!) love and politics… 🙂 have you read “Get a life”?… very impressive and emotional…


  3. To my shame, I haven’t read anything by her… at least not in the last thirty years. i have a feeling that maybe I did in the 1960s and 70s. What a brilliant reflection about the gun. I have just seen an American video advert attempting to embarrass parents into locking up their house guns. It is sad if this is the only way to convince people to protect their children from their own parents.


  4. She is a wonderful author, and she has written many short stories which people can read instead of a full lenth novel to get an idea of her style and themes. Looking forward to the next nobel prize winner.


  5. Wow! focus on legendary women is fantastic! Luanne’s post with your book was very well written and I am very pleased that your book was featured. I feel you are an excellent writer, am so sorry that you had to endure losing a mother and sister, in a very short period of time, Carol. I think you are an amazing writer and woman. I admire you greatly and someday, when life gets a little less chaotic, I will read your story. Thanks today for Nadine’s story. Smiles, Robin


  6. Another fascinating literary great to read. Will we ever live long enough to get through our never-ending TBR? Lol. I actually order the paperback of another book you wrote about Marta Oulie, A Novel of Betrayal. I just received it and was surprised at how short the book is but on the bright side, I shall read it in one sitting. I’ll let you know when I do. 🙂
    P.S. I can’t believe I still haven’t received my proof copy yet 😦 Hopefully by Monday.


  7. Helped to end apartheid? Here is yet another unsung female voice that is being celebrated by you, Carol. And so potent, the power of words and story, obviously, to change the world.


  8. Ashamed to say I’ve not read any of her works. But I sure like: “Writing is making sense of life. You work your whole life and perhaps you’ve made sense of one small area.”


  9. Hm, I haven’t read any of her works but having researched her a bit after reading your post, Carol, I must say she seems like “my kinda gal” – I shall organise myself and grab one… of her books to read 😀


  10. I think I’ve read some stories of hers but it’s been so long. Nice to be reminded. And I love what she said about writing: Writing is making sense of life. Yes.


  11. ★/ Hello Carol /★
    Wonderful tribute…
    I so agree with her when she mentioned Hemingway and explained how, by reading his books, she learnt to listen within her own stories. That is something worth remembering, as best books speak loud to us, even a long time after we have read them.
    Blessings and everlasting peace to Nadine Gordimer.



  12. I have not read any of her works, but it sounds like I should. “the works of the writer should be of ‘benefit to mankind'”—Oh, to be able to write something that has that effect.


  13. I had never even heard of her until you brought her up in your post. And now she is gone sad to hear. So glad you wrote this for Nadine Gordimer, a wonderful tribute and reminder.


  14. I saw the news of her death on the TV. My husband said, ‘Who is she? Why are we hearing news about her?” SIGH. This is why I have to blog! Beautiful tribute.


    • Thank you for stopping by and commenting. In doing this series on female Nobel prize winners in literature, I’ve come to the conclusion that these women not only wrote extraordinarily well but their writing touched and moved people. Their mission was to point out the injustices of the world. That’s what makes them Nobel.:)


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