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July's People Audio Cassette – Audiobook, Jan 1993

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Audio Cassette, Audiobook, Jan 1993
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks (Jan. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786104120
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786104123
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 17 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Review

'Breathtaking ... It is so flawlessly written that every one of its events seems chillingly, ominously possible' Anne Tyler, New York Times Book Review 'If one were never to read any other literature about South Africa, Gordimer's work would be enough ... As a literary keeper of records, she has no peer' Sunday Times 'Nadine Gordimer is the real thing: by which I mean a true writer of graphic power, palpitating sensibility, and high and persistent emotional voltage' Observer --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Nadine Gordimer's many novels include The Lying Days, The Conservationist, joint winner of the Booker Prize, Burger's Daughter, My Son's Story, None To Accompany Me, A World Of Strangers and The House Gun. Her collections of short stories include Something Out There, Jump and Loot. In 1991 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. She lives in South Africa. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Pigwin on 5 Sept. 2013
Format: Paperback
I had mislaid this book and only recently discovered it in the back of a wardrobe and decided to read it on the basis of "better late than never". For such a short novel Nadine Gordimer's July's People raises many questions and covers a lot of ground. It is set during a fictional civil war in which Black South Africans have violently overthrown the Apartheid system and the story centres on the Smales family who have been forced to flee Johannesburg and have been given shelter by their black servant, July, in his native village. Bam and Maureen Smales are liberal white South Africans who together with their three children now find themselves dependent on July whose family is not too happy with their presence in the village.

The story opens on the morning following an exhausting three-day journey from Johannesburg to the village. While the Smales' three children adapt quickly and well to life in the village, it is much more difficult for Bam and Maureen. In an effort to be useful Bam builds a water tank and also shoots a wild pig but Maureen feels a huge sense of loss and is unable to read the novel she brought with her as she realises "no fiction could compete with what she was finding she did not know". She remembers a scene from her childhood in South Africa in which a black schoolfriend carried Maureen's books on her head and wonders why. There is a subtle shift in power between the former white employers and their erstwhile black servant and it soon becomes apparent that July feels he is entitled to the Smales' car in recognition of the risks he has taken in providing them with shelter.

I consider Maureen to be the pivotal character in this novel as we are privy to her constant thoughts, doubts and interpretation of events and situations both recent and long past.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Philip Spires on 20 Feb. 2008
Format: Paperback
In July's People Nadine Gordimer presents a scenario laden with fears. Written in 1981, the book presents a South Africa afflicted by near-worst case Cold War disintegration. With rumoured external support, the urban black population has instigated a revolution of sorts, transforming the cities into war zones. No longer "nice" places to be, they are no longer home for decent white liberals like Bam and Maureen and their youngsters.
Twenty-five years on, it is this aspect o July's people that grates. The scenario now seems horribly and, perhaps, naively, simplistic, improbable. At the time, people saw things differently, from a perspective that is difficult to communicate to anyone who did not live in through the Cold War.

But then this is an unimportant point. We do not criticize Orwell for the passing of 1984 without Big Brother. Neither do we regard Huxley's current lack of either Bravery or Novelty as a restriction on the relevance of his book to our world. Similarly, the scenario of Margaret Attwood's Handmaid's Tale makes the novel both possible and successful, but its likelihood is no more probable as a result of this well-conceived fiction.

So Nadine Gordimer's scenario, once accommodated, can be taken as a given, an imagined premise upon which the free-standing substance of the story both develops and succeeds, and then this becomes a strength of the book, not a weakness.

Bam and Maureen, long-time employers of a "houseboy" called July, decide on flight. They pack what little they can in the bakkie - a go-anywhere, basic truck of local manufacture, and set off, mother, father, their two boys, and July, their "boy" to seek safety.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By William Jordan on 18 July 2012
Format: Paperback
This.novel is set in an imaginary South Africa in 1980 or so. A white family has been taken by their black servant July to his village for safety following urban rioting. They all have a hard time adjusting. What's good and what's bad in their past is alike destroyed.

This is delicately writes and plotted. The pain caused by apartheid on a human level comes through very clearly.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By lamiatayeb@excite.com on 23 Aug. 2001
Format: Paperback
Maureen Smales, the White bourgois wife and mother of three children in Johannesburg, finds herself in the middle of the South African wilderness, a guest of her own servant. The Smales have safely gone through the 1976 and the 1980s riots, but now the situation has gone beyond control. Black people are ravaging the country, raising hell for White people and chasing them out of their own houses. The Smales are 'lucky to be alive', that's why they have to put up with all the inconveniences of settlement in a hut in the middle of nowhere. the narrator meticulously depicts the White family's lapse into a black life of filth, physical discomfort and humiliating dependency upon their host, July. A spoilt servant from 'back there', July continues to maintain the previous relationship of black servant to white master, but the circumstances appear to be grossly inadequate to either that habitual relationship or the simple interplay of hosting accomodation. The narrative shows the gradual breakdown of white power, white urban ethics and etiquette and white racial superiority. The loss of the car and the gun are symbolic acts of castration of white civilisation, while no attempts to bridge the gap between the white family and the community of blacks that accomodates them are signalled. As the gap remains unbridgeable, the awesome aura of whiteness is gradually dispelled around the Smales as they lapse into physical degradation and repulsiveness. July's People is a piece of fiction that is beyond the grasp of its own characters, where the fictional confounds its own creation with the disproportionate sense of nightmare. Maureen Smales feels she is the inhabitant of a book and she dreamily moves through its thorny space. Gordimer's character is a trapped woman wondering at the magic of her captivity, whence no logic could ever liberate her.
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