THE ESSENTIAL GESTURE: Writing Politics and Places by Nadine Gordimer

THE ESSENTIAL GESTURE: Writing Politics and Places

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Twenty-three revealing essays by one of South Africa's most perceptive writers. Arranged by editor Clingman, who also provides a useful introduction and headnotes, these short pieces, many of which were published originally here in magazines and newspapers, explore Gordimer's early life, her attitudes toward the sorrows and satisfactions of writing; the problems facing South African whites and blacks; portraits of several of that country's social activists; plus descriptions of such locales as Egypt, the Congo River, and Madagascar. Written over the past 30 years, the essays reflect the development of Gordimer's attitudes. This is particularly apparent in her political writings, as the worsening situation in South Africa has forced the author over the years to reevaluate her own position as a white South African author. Fleshing out these political essays are sensitive delineations of such fellow countrymen as Chief Luthuli, Nobel Prize-winner for his part in establishing the African National Congress; Bram Fischer, lawyer and member of the South African Communist Party; and Nat Nakasa, the black writer and journalist who was refused reentry into South Africa when awarded a Nieman Fellowship to Harvard, and who later committed suicide. Readers of Gordimer's novels (Burger's Daughter, A Sport of Nature, etc.) will discover additional pleasures here. Many of the themes of her fictional works have been prompted by the real-life concerns explored so unsparingly in these essays. For lovers of the author's fiction, then, as well as for those interested in insights into South Africa's recent turbulent history, this is an indispensable collection.

Pub Date: Oct. 7th, 1988
Publisher: Knopf