Many have felt that Nadine Gordiner's manifold gifts as a novelist have strengthened with each book--her work is given...

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A GUEST OF HONOUR

Many have felt that Nadine Gordiner's manifold gifts as a novelist have strengthened with each book--her work is given definition by intelligence and feeling and style all in remarkable tandem which is true to an even greater degree here. This is again a novel of contemporary South Africa and in particular the Gala district of one of those new independent small countries with seemingly insoluble grievances which are easier to trigger than to satisfy. ""Unwieldy country with its communications that dwindled out in flooded tracks and ant-eaten telephone poles (which) made it feasible for people to take the law into their own hands."" Someone like Shinza, restless, confident, and to some degree sullen as the head of government Mweta temporizes (""this continent, this time. You don't get years and years, you don't get second chances""), makes concessions and yields to some of the instant panaceas of the police state. The book however for the most part is viewed through the eyes of James Bray, a former Independence man who returns from England after ten years as an adviser to Mweta. Bray, a liberal of an overwhelming reasonableness, had hoped to be only a spectator until it becomes increasingly obvious he must be a participant: the ""kiddies parliament"" state is a complex of pressures both from within and without. He also has an affair with a young woman with a transient history and an easy sensuality to and for whom he is increasingly responsible. And by the close, having witnessed all the doubtful means to dubious ends (the waste and confusion which leads to strike and arson and gratuitous arrests) Bray realizes that there is ""no finality while one lived"" and that death can be the only interruption. . . . Miss Gordimer is a sufficiently enlightened and eloquent writer to carry the book at some length without remission of the interest and feeling it elicits; it is a powerful novel on any terms you propose.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 1970

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1970