Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Nadine Gordimer

She Fought Apartheid with Words (Collage. M.A. Reilly, 2014)

I was saddened to learn that Nadine Gordimer died yesterday.  We have lost a courageous voice.  I am reminded that in Create Dangerously (2011), Edwidge Danticat writes:

I am even more certain that to create dangerously is also to create fearlessly, boldly embracing the public and private terrors that would silence us, then bravely moving forward even when it feels as though we are chasing or being chased by ghosts (p. 148).

Nadine Gordimer embodied that boldness--speaking for us.  In chapter 1 of Gordimer's second novel, A World of Strangers (1958), the narrator, Toby, a young Englishman newly arrived in South Africa to work for the family business notes:

“I felt as if I were reading of another country, from seas away. But then the country of the tourist pamphlet always is another country, an embarrassing abstraction of the desirable that, thank God, does not exist on this planet, where there are always ants and bad smells and empty Coca-Cola bottles to keep the grubby finger-print of reality upon the beautiful” (p.45)

This book published in 1958 was banned in South Africa for 12 years.  Nadine Gordimer helped us, through her art, to name the unspeakable.