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My Son's Story [Library Binding]

Nadine Gordimer
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Library Binding 14.33  
Library Binding, Oct 1991 --  
Paperback 8.83  

Book Description

Oct 1991
Playing truant, Will slips off to a movie theatre near Johannesburg and is shocked to see his father there--with a woman he doesn't know. The father is a "colored" schoolteacher who has become a hero in the struggle against apartheid; his companion is a white activist fiercely dedicated to the cause. "A bold, unnerving tour de force".--The New York Times Book Review.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Library Binding: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval (Oct 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1417636092
  • ISBN-13: 978-1417636099
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 13.3 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"A bleak, powerful novel of issues ... this book radiates strength, personality, intelligence and commitment" Sunday Telegraph --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, JULY'S PEOPLE, MY SON'S STORY, NONE TO ACCOMPANY ME, A GUEST OF HONOUR and THE HOUSE GUN. Her collections of short stories include SOMETHING OUT THERE and JUMP. 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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When Love is fake, what else can endure? 8 Aug 2001
By A Customer
Will, a fifteen-year-old son of a coloured militant against apartheid in South Africa, bumps into his father when coming out of the cinema with his blonde mistress. Will's story of betrayal and disillusionment sets out with this painful discovery, but it travels back in time to paint a full portrait of Sonny, the heroic father. Though he is a loving husband and father and an intrepid militant for black freedom and political rights; though he believes in his principles and sticks to his ideals, Sonny falls in love with Hannah Plowman, a white woman working as a representative for the International Organisation for Human Rights, and a fellow-militant against racism and State violence in South Africa. He cannot do without the sweet secret life he shares with her in her cottage, and it's no wonder that she is a white woman. When the son decides to suffer in silence the pain of knowledge about his father's affair with the white woman, he gradually notices that those whom he has tried to shield from pain - his mother and sister - already know and are going each her own way dealing with the painful situation. Throughout the novel, Will is torn between love and hatred, admiration and disdain for his heroic father, until he wakes to the painful reality that his sister and mother have imperceptibly been drawn into the vortex of political commitment and condemned to exile...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Love and Politics in Arpatheid South Africa 24 Feb 1999
By A Customer
This is a tale of a political activist ( black ) who falls in love with a human rights worker ( white). It cronicles the development of their affair against the background of his political travails and the show of family life which he presents to the outside world. His son tells the story at different times and it is fascinating to see his dilemnas when trying to sustain a relationship with his parents. This is a well crafted book and has drama and emotion nicely balanced throughout
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.5 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review of Nadine Gordimer's : My Son's Story 4 May 2001
By Eva Jfs - Published on
My Son's Story is an inspiring, moving book. As difficult as it is to read (it made me feel kind of stupid!) I still feel that it was worth reading it. The book tells the story of the effect of apartheid on one black family in South Africa. Will, who is a young man, finds out that his father is having a relationship with a white woman. The father is a "colored" schoolteacher who has become a hero in the struggle against apartheid. Throughout the whole book you get to read about Will's feelings about his father and how horrified he is about him having another woman. Actually, I would say that the book has two plots: The first one deals with the political situation and everything around it, and the second tells about relationships between people and how difficult they can be. The book describes well the complexities of relationships- between the son, Will, and his father, Sonny; between Sonny and his wife Aila; between Sonny and his lover Hannah, between everyone and the political situation at hand. Why did I feel stupid when reading this book? Well, for starters, the writing is very complicated and often filled with metaphor. Plus, Gordimer looks back at things that happened several pages a go and so if you weren't really alert all the time you might be left out on some important and relevant points. Also, Gordimer's style of writing isn't very concise, it's actually rather disorganised which made me often quite confused. Apart from all this, I have to say that this is a very rich book which makes the struggle against apartheid in South Africa real and personal to the reader. And I know that I should have taken much more time to read this book since it's not the kind of book that you can just read in one day and then forget about it. I guess that's a good sign, I mean the fact that the book made me think. Think about the facts of life that aren't that pretty. Maybe, if I take the time to read this book again I might understand it better.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of Gordimer's best works 30 May 2003
By A Customer - Published on
Gordimer's intricate tale of an educated black family struggling with the evils of apartheid is most noteworthy for its rich characterization. The story is told primarily by Will, the teenage son of anti-apartheid activist Sonny. Will acknowledges the horrors of the political situation around him but is painfully affected by the domestic consequences of social change (first his father's affair with white activist Hannah, and later his mother's imprisonment).
The complexity of the writing is necessary for conveying the emotional weight of the story. The chapters alternate (roughly) between the first person narration of Will and a third person account of the unfolding situation. This allows the reader to experience the pain and ambivalence Will feels, while also making the reader aware of the secrets that the family members keep from each other.
I disagree with the other reviewers that Gordimer's work is overly cerebral (if you want to see pretentious, dry, and overintellectualized, check out fellow African author J. M. Coetzee... yawn). My Son's Story is brilliantly realized in terms of both form and content. Without its complexity, the book would not be as believable, heartfelt, or utterly tragic... although I probably wouldn't have appreciated it in the ninth grade either.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Message is Worth the Work 17 Sep 2002
By Emma - Published on
Nadine Gordimer deserves her Nobel Prize, her books are wonderful and terrifying and frustrating and enlightening all at once.
Gordimer's world is the world of the white anti apartheid activist (at the time of this book). She writes what she knows and it's an unusual and interesting perspective. My Son's Story is a political book no doubt but told from a very personal space, which is the mark of a great story. Thing is, Gordimer doesn't always write in the most accessible of ways, it is often difficult to get to the larger point she's trying to make, you know it's there but you have to work hard to get it and frankly, there were times when I wasn't sure I was seeing what she wanted me to see. Gordimer likes to use literary tools to make these macro points, lots of metaphor and at times, it's tiring to try and keep up, I did quite a bit of going back and re-reading. That said, I believe this to be a great book, it's worth the work I put in but frustrating as well.
I encourage others to read Gordimer for her insights into a culture which is thankfully nearly dead by now. Just go into it knowing that this is not a casual beach read, but you know, a good book sometimes takes work.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars interesting topic but rather obtuse writing 8 Sep 1999
By A Customer - Published on
The book describes well the complexities of relationships- between the son, Will, and his father, Sonny; between Sonny and his wife Aila; between Sonny and his lover Hannah, between everyone and the political situation at hand. However, the frequency of pronouns can be confusing and the long, impassioned dialogues never directly state anything at all. One must already be familiar with the apartheid and liberation movement to fully comprehend the book.
5.0 out of 5 stars intimate relationships 7 July 2008
By Alfred L. Evans - Published on
A brilliant book -- perhaps her best. As usual Gordimer is all about human relationships -- not just blacks vs. whites, but dark blacks vs. lighter skinned blacks; fathers with their sons and daughters and their wives and their mistresses; old,veteran revolutionaries relationships with young, new revoltionaries and on and on.

Her syntax is always complicated, and sometimes frustrating, but well worth the effort.
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