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No Time Like the Present [Kindle Edition]

Nadine Gordimer
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Nadine Gordimer is one of our most telling contemporary writers. With each new work, she attacks - with a clear-eyed lack of sentimentality, and an understanding of the darkest depths of the human soul - the inextricable link between personal life and political, communal history. The revelation of this theme in each new work, not only in her homeland South Africa, but the twenty-first century world, is evidence of her literary genius: in the sharpness of her psychological insights, the stark beauty of her language, the complexity of her characters and the difficult choices with which they are faced.

In No Time Like the Present, Gordimer brings the reader into the lives of Steven Reed and Jabulile Gumede, a 'mixed' couple, both of whom have been combatants in the struggle for freedom against apartheid. Once clandestine lovers under racist law forbidding sexual relations between white and black, they are now in the new South Africa. The place and time where freedom - the 'better life for all' that was fought for and promised - is being created but also challenged by political and racial tensions, while the hangover of moral ambiguities and the vast and growing gap between affluence and mass poverty, continue to haunt the present. No freedom from personal involvement in these or in the personal intimacy of love.

The subject is contemporary, but Gordimer's treatment is timeless. In No Time Like the Present, she shows herself once again a master novelist, at the height of her prodigious powers.


Product Description

Review

Gordimer fashions a grand, state-of-her-nation novel about South Africa from Presidents Mandela to Zuma ... A mightily serious and impressive book Daily Mail Nadine Gordimer is a towering figure in South African literature, and, at 88, remains a vital, productive force Metro At best her free-style, high-velocity storytelling [Gordimer] delivers a visceral immediacy and intensity that lets us inhabit the minds, and share the views, of her characters with the minimum of novelistic fuss ... Written with a ferocious, high-definition attentiveness ... Gordimer, a nonpareil observer of the outer and inner life alike, sustains her heroic mission of witness and warning Independent A complex book and a pained examination of the difficulties posed by a freedom that was won by imperfect human beings Guardian This is a book of great thematic richness and quiet brilliance Sunday Times This is an important and highly topical book about how hard it is to sustain hope and idealism in the wake of a revolution ... Gordimer has written an angry, melancholy, brave book Spectator

Review

'Nadine Gordimer is one of the best story-writers in English today.' Observer 'Gordimer's stark sentences and emotional depth make most modern fiction seem trivial.' The Times 'Gordimer has undoubtedly become one of the World's Great Writers ... her rootedness in a political time, place and faith has never dimmed her complex gifts as an artist.' Independent 'Nadine Gordimer writes of blacks and whites, but her steady, unblinking eye sees something grey there. You could call it human nature, and you would be right.' Daily Telegraph

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1230 KB
  • Print Length: 433 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; 1 edition (15 Mar. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00746TUMC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #166,332 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Caught in the current 30 Oct. 2012
By Antenna TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Having admired years ago Nadine Gordimer's anti-apartheid novels which won her the 1991 Nobel Prize for Literature, I was impressed to find that, approaching ninety, she is still writing, dissecting the state of "free" South Africa.

This is the tale of a mixed-race couple adjusting to a world in which they no longer need to conceal their relationship, but also find that the freedom to make choices and lead a "normal" life often highlights cultural differences they did not notice when plotting undercover dissidence, plus there is the growing realisation that their new black leaders succeeding Mandela are often deeply flawed and corrupt, to such an extent that it might even be preferable to emigrate, the supreme irony in view of what Steve and Jabu have sacrificed for their country.

Although I wanted to like this book, to learn from Gordimer's deep knowledge and insights into South Africa, the stream of consciousness style proved a barrier that soon became insuperable. When I managed to tune into the fragmented phrases alternating with garrulous paragraphs, I could see that I was being enabled to sense the characters' diverse, fleeting thoughts as directly as if they were my own. However, the reading process becomes an exhausting labour rather than a stimulating pleasure, with the too frequent distraction of phrases that are oddly convoluted to no purpose, and dizzy-making switches from one heavy subject allusion to another.

Gordimer's style seems to have evolved over the decades, so one has to assume the current phase is deliberate. The prose reads as if written or typed "as it comes" without any attempt at honing or editing. In the end, I decided with great reluctance to abandon the effort for the time being - a great pity since there is a need for thought-provoking novels on the new South Africa based on first hand observation and understanding.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 21 Feb. 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Nadine Gordimer is a renowned writer and I have enjoyed her work very much in the past, but this time I was disappointed. The reason for this was the strangely inelegant, contorted style. I found myself having to read many sentences several times in order to make sense of them and still did not always succeed. For some reason she abandoned the normally constructed English sentence in favour of a knotty, elusive style. It is not hard to think of reasons why this may have been, in view of the complexity and depth of her subject matter. However, I think it is a mistake to match style to subject matter in a way that alienates the reader. Profundity does not require the loss of lucidity.
Despite being critical of the prose style, I would want to pay tribute to the depth of thought in the novel and in particular to Gordimer's capacity to tackle the most difficult issues, particularly racism and homosexuality, in a very explicit way. This contiguity of departure from grammatical norms and frank discussion of issues that are often skirted over, gave overall a rather dislocated effect to the novel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very hard going 1 April 2013
By MWG
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
With an interest in South Aftrican politics I imagined that this would be a gripping read. Unfortunately I found her style almost unbearable. It's probably a matter of personal taste. I haven't read anything else by Gordimer & probably won't now. I found it repetitive, obvious & lacking in any subtlety. I have just decided to give up on it (a third of the way through) as I didn't feel I was gaining any insight & the prose style is just too annoying.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have always found Nadine Gordimer's style mannered and difficult to read, but never more so than in this novel, so ungrammatical and so ambiguous that I wondered how her editors could have passed it: they probably thought it presumptuous to challenge this venerable old lady who had after all, back in 1991, won the Nobel Prize for Literature. But now innumerable sentences have to be read twice, three times - some incomprehensible even then. This is a pity because out of this welter of constipated prose there emerges once again the author's hotly indignant analysis of the South African scene, this time as it was some dozen and more years after the end of apartheid in 1994, under Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma.

Stephen (white, half-Jewish and half Christian) and Jabulile (a Zulu), comrades in the Struggle, who had been secretly living as man and wife under apartheid, can now do so openly. He has become an Assistant Professor in the chemistry department at a university; she has become a lawyer, specializing in securing justice for people whose rights under the new constitution have been infringed. Through their eyes we see how, both insidiously and openly, the ideals of the Struggle have been compromised and betrayed, and the recurring impotent refrain: what are you going to do about it?

Apart from Jabu and her father - a well-drawn patriarchal Elder - , all the other adult characters hardly come alive because they are little more than mouthpieces for political and social attitudes. Only Stephen and Jabu's children, Sindiswa and Gary Elias, come across as rounded lively and likeable teenagers whose relationships with their peers of all races are natural and unencumbered with ideological baggage.
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