cover image Writing and Being

Writing and Being

Nadine Gordimer. Harvard University Press, $20.5 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-674-96232-3

Drawing on lectures delivered at Harvard, Nobel laureate Gordimer, musing on the links between life and literature, offers some fascinating personal reflections as well as thoughts on fellow writers in South Africa and other countries. Her characters, she asserts, are both imagined and taken from life; she discloses, however, that the protagonist of one of her novels (unnamed, but clearly Burger's Daughter) found the book uncannily accurate. The recently published memoirs of several South African revolutionaries not only describe the path to political consciousness, she notes, but also stimulate the conditions for societal reflection. She offers sympathetic, close readings of the works of writers Naguib Mahfouz, Chinua Achebe and Amos Oz--``the Arab, the African, the Jew.'' She concludes her brief book by reflecting on her own road to politics and literature--``I think I have been fortunate in that I was born into the decadence of the colonial period''--and on South Africa's extraordinary recent transition to a country that is now whole. (Oct.)