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Burger's Daughter
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2008
While other colonised countries in Africa gained their independence in the 60s, resulting in black rule, the independence of South Africa reinforced the white rule of the settlers, continuing the oppression of the black majority for another three decades. It is not surprising, therefore, that apartheid and the struggles against the regime dominate late 20th century South African literature. One might consider, though, the implications of the fact that the best known writers of the period are not black, but white politically liberal writers.

This is addressed in some way in Nadine Gordimer's Burger's Daughter, where Rosa, the eponymous heroine, attempts to forge her own identity and independence from her father, Lionel Burger, a prominent white anti-apartheid activist who dies in prison. Towards the end of the novel, Baasie, a black childhood friend of Rosa's, who she has not seen for years, rebukes her: "Lionel Burger... Everyone in the world must be told what a great hero he was and how much he suffered for the blacks. Everyone must cry over him... Listen, there are dozens of our fathers sick and dying like dogs, kicked out of the locations when they can't work any more. Getting old and dying in prison. Killed in prison. It's nothing. I know plenty blacks like Burger. It's nothing, it's us, we must be used to it". At another point in the novel, another black character rejects the white liberal struggle against apartheid: "Whites don't credit us with the intelligence to know what we want! We don't need their solutions."

The novel is very firmly placed historically, with references to the Sharpeville and Soweto disturbances and to the key figures in the ANC. Gordimer faces the turbulent politics of South Africa, and her questions about the white liberals' role in the struggle reflects her own position as a writer. It is significant that Rosa, who tries to separate herself from her family's history of political struggle, is inevitably drawn back into it and ends the novel in prison. Though chronological in structure, in other ways Gordimer's narrative technique demonstrates some of the experimentation of other post colonial literature. The novel employs different narrative voices, first person and third person, as it follows Rosa's story, some passages like Rosa's personal confessions and reminiscences, others which treat her objectively. There are sections which have the style of newspaper reports, others the tone of police reports about her activities.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 24 May 2004
Nadine Gordimer is an intense, engaged, writer, and this is a wonderful novel, haunting and mesmeric, beautifully judged in its dealings with emotions and character.
The lead character, Rosa Burger, is the daughter of a famous white anti-apartheid activist who dies in jail. With her mother and brother also dead, Rosa is left alone - although, with a gaggle of other activists and the government trying to keep tabs on her, she is never alone.
The book deals with Rosa's attempts to find her place afte rher father's death, at first fleeing from activism, escaping to Europe, but finally returning an dinevitably adopting the legacy of her father. It is a book about families, about politics, about hope and about South Africa. Intermixed with long sections on South African history, it deals with the possibilities of racial harmony in a subtle, convincing way.
This is one of those books which gets you in its grip and does not let go. Gordimer is a writer of sustained brilliance, and I think this is a masterpiece.
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on 3 August 2014
This book is written in a very complex style which is not easy to read but it is a very special book. It tells the story of the daughter of two deeply committed communist antiapartheid activists whose commitment to the cause left their daughter somewhat of a victim. A great book with lots of deep messages but not easy to read.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 21 March 2009
This book, by a wonderful person and marvelous authoress, is one of the few books which I have not been able to finish reading. The protagonist shifts from time to time, sometimes on the same page, without my being able to identify when (or why) the change took place.
While I enjoy being challenged, I feel that the challenge in "Burger's Daughter" detracts from the story and leaves me with the fatigue of a four minute mile after a half speed sprint of 100 metres.
It is unfortunate for me that the style has made continued reading impossible. Nadine Gordimer's sensitivity and understanding of South African society is well presented in the little that I read.
The centrality of the (white) suburban house in social intercourse, the extended Afrikaans-speaking family and its inter-relations are presented very well.
Anyone seeking apartheid-era courtroom and incarceration stories, will find them well told - please note that that comment, is made after just over a quarter of the book `behind me'.
It was with great sadness that, after several months of repeated attempts at reading "Burger's Daughter", I put it aside, `knowing' that there is something in the book for me, but my ability to find it, just was not within me.
I wish other readers greater success.
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on 11 January 2015
rather boring, especiallly the irrelevant French episode.
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on 3 September 2014
Book as described
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on 2 August 2014
Excellent
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on 4 October 2014
Awful.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Simply cannot attach my old fashioned Kindle to a wi-fi so iet was a waste of money and I now need to order a paperback version.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 22 June 2001
Nadine Gordimer seems to capture the social and political threads that make up South Africa. However, she does it in a brilliant style, ingeniously intertwining personal views. The main character in 'Burger's Daughter' is to me one of Gordimer's finest. This novel is a must!
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