cover image Six Feet of the Country

Six Feet of the Country

Nadine Gordimer. Penguin Books, $13 (112pp) ISBN 978-0-14-006559-6

This slim, arresting collection of seven stories from one of South Africa's preeminent writers, portions of which have appeared elsewhere, is set in and near Johannesburg. The title story tells of a black who has traveled hundreds of miles from his native Rhodesia to start a new life in Johannesburg, where there is the promise of work. Tragically, however, he dies, as do many of the natives, who struggle under the harsh circumstances. The man's family and people plan to provide a proper burial, but their meager means cannot provide a proper grave""six feet of country.'' There are other stories of love between men and womenwhite for black, black for white; and the anguish of the common people of this country, black and white, is presented with humanity and a discerning eye and ear. Gordimer is particularly adept at showing the frailty of mankind, the heartache of simple people trying to live, to work, and to find love and warmth. (August)