I JUST finished this book. February was short and I had many things to do. I’m amazed (and ashamed) that I’ve never read a Nadine Gordimer book before. Nobody recommended this one. I was at my favourite bookstore just looking for South African Fiction. July’s People jumped out at me.
I have often wondered what would have become of South Africa if the ‘transition’ was not peaceful. Things got pretty violent before our first democratic elections. Much of the violence was between black people. I won’t give a history lesson because… Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Nadine Gordimer’s book goes to that place: What if there was a violent take over? The Smales, a liberal couple with 3 children, find themselves with nowhere to run. They are taken in by their servant July. He takes them to his village and suddenly they find themselves relying on July. For everything.
You know I’m not big on ‘spoilers’.
Writing: I am so happy to have finally read my first Nadine Gordimer. She writes beautifully. That is stating the obvious, I guess. They don’t just give the Nobel (Literature) Prize to anyone.
The story: Very very intense. I realised that I would often hold my breathe while reading it. There are so many aspects to the story that I feel like I should read this book again (later in the year). Some of the conversations that the characters have made me wish South Africans would do the same. There are many things that we haven’t been able to be honest about. A lot of misconceptions that lead to resentment. There is a lot of that in this book.
Verdict: Go to your library, bookstore etc. and get this book.
On to the next one!