Gordimer Churns Out Novels

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By Karina Magdalena Brink

WITH her latest novel Get a Life (2005) Gordimer turns to an entirely new topic, not only in her own oeuvre, but also in South African literature: ecology and environmental protection. The novel, most probably the first truly self-conscious “green” novel in South Africa, closely examines the environmental problems arising from industrial development in the country and exposes the strikingly ignorant and greedy attitudes of people involved in it.

The novel is also a portrayal of two marriages at different stages in the couples’ lives. Significantly, Get a Life, Loot, and Gordimer’s latest short story collection Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth Black (2007), are dedicated to Gordimer’s late husband Reinhold Cassier. Loot in particular mentions in the dedication his birth and death dates as well as the date when the couple met on 1 March 1953. In an interview in 2003, Gordimer was asked whether after her husband’s death writing brought her “peace, solace from the everyday.” And Gordimer responded:

Thus, it is no surprise that there is a shift in Gordimer’s recent writing in the urgency of the writer’s confrontation with death. It is by no means absent from her earlier fiction, but there the confrontation took on a more unexpected, violent form. In Gordimer’s later work, preoccupation with ageing and natural death becomes more evident as in None to Accompany Me or Get a Life.

Gordimer’s continuing commitment to her country, the life around her, is not only exemplified by her writing, but also by her activism. She is an UN Ambassador of Goodwill and supports the global campaign to eradicate poverty. Her editorship of Telling Tales in 2004 is another of the countless reasons why she has been called, in spite of her insistence that she is not, the “moral conscience of her nation”. Telling Tales is an anthology of short fiction by famous authors from around the world, among them Margaret Atwood, Susan Sontag, G??????’??

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