Nonetheless, a much-deserved tribute to Gordimer and a firm reminder of her country’s difficult path to liberation.

TELLING TIMES

WRITING AND LIVING, 1954-2008

A massive collection of nonfiction by the South African Nobel Prize winner and longtime critic of apartheid.

This omnibus of essays by Gordimer (Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth Black, 2007, etc.) runs chronologically. Though it’s only intermittently autobiographical, it begins with her early years: In “A South African Childhood,” she describes growing up in comfort but never far from the mining industry that introduced her to her homeland’s institutionalized racism. Gordimer addresses apartheid from several angles: as a literary critic, considering the works of black authors who were routinely banned by the state; as a dissident, protesting the racist policies that prompted jailings, violence and uprootings of communities; and as a keen social observer who took note of the intimate bonds that connected blacks and whites when they could meet away from the authorities’ eyes. Her tone on the subject is stern, chastising, mournful, mocking and, once apartheid began to collapse in 1990, jubilant. But what consistently defines her prose is a fierce commitment to addressing the subject openly and in plain speech. Even after the end of apartheid she wrote thoughtfully on the steps that both blacks and whites needed to take to achieve social parity. Telling Times also includes Gordimer’s essays on other topics, mainly literature and philosophy. She had a youthful affinity for French existentialists, and there are numerous close readings of fiction writers from South Africa (J.M. Coetzee, William Plomer), the Middle East and the United States. Away from political or literary concerns, though, the author has a more difficult time finding her footing. Her travel pieces on the Congo, Botswana and Madagascar are meandering and surprisingly unevocative for a writer who has imagined Africa so powerfully in her fiction. Though her political commitment persists, there’s less force in her later work, mostly briefer articles of the op-ed and keynote-speech variety.

Nonetheless, a much-deserved tribute to Gordimer and a firm reminder of her country’s difficult path to liberation.

Pub Date: June 28, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-393-06628-9

Page Count: 800

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2010

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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