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4.0 out of 5 stars Good start
A favourite author. Only just started reading but a good beginning - hope it will continue to be as interesting.
Published 6 months ago by Singing Dorabella

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Caught in the current
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...
Published 21 months ago by Antenna


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Caught in the current, 30 Oct 2012
By 
Antenna (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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
2.0 out of 5 stars Very hard going, 1 April 2013
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This review is from: No Time Like the Present (Kindle Edition)
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 21 Feb 2013
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good analysis of post-apartheid South Africa, but appallingly badly written, 25 Mar 2013
By 
Ralph Blumenau (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: No Time Like the Present (Kindle Edition)
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.

During the Struggle Steve and Jabu had been so focussed on the cause that there were few other ideological matters for them to think about. But now they have to consider them. What does it mean for you and your comrades to move from the township in which they have been living to a more comfortable house in a bourgeois suburb of Johannesburg(and next door to a community homosexuals, whose activities are no longer illegal)? Should their children go to private schools or to the state schools with their lower educational standards? Stephen's university originally demanded educational achievements from the students it enrols - was that not discrimination against students who have been to pre-apartheid schools that did not enable them to meet the admission standards required? But when not only admission but degree standards, too, were lowered, was that not bringing them into professions for which they are not properly equipped? The state spends so much on corrupt arms deals - the Deputy President, the Zulu Jacob Zuma, is involved, but the charges against him are withdrawn (not disproved) in the High Court - that its subsidies to the universities are so small that the universities cannot avoid charging fees - again, was that what they had fought for? What should their attitude be to the police when they confront rioting students?

It's all there: cars hi-jacked by armed thugs; references to the AIDS epidemic and Zuma's grotesque take on it; destitute people being given shelter and food by a church; squalid camps for refugees from Zimbabwe, with prosperous neighbours - black as well as white - urging the authorities to have them sent back home; if the camps are near the hovels of South Africa's own poor who have no access to authorities, there is murderous violence. It's called xenophobia, but it's really the result of both groups ebing in desperate poverty.

Zuma won first the Presidency of the ANC in 2007 and then, though there are 72 charges of fraud and corruption against him, the Presidency of the country in 2009. During the election campaign the sinister youth leader Julius Malema replaced his signature chant "Kill the Boer" with "I'll kill for Zuma". There is a good deal about the unavailing (8%) challenge to Zuma made by the Congress of the People (COPE) which was founded in 2008 as a breakaway from the ANC. You probably need to be familiar with the politics of South Africa to understand those pages. Jabu voted for COPE, but most of the comrades in the Suburb could not bring themselves, despite their dislike of Zuma, to desert the ANC.
Before the election Jabu has discovered that Steve has been, without telling her, collecting press advertisements for emigrating to Australia (though his reading tells him that Australian society still has its own apartheid problem with its indigenous citizens). Strong and independent though she is, Jabu will go wherever he wants to go, although for her it would mean leaving a homeland that was more deeply hers than it was Stephen's, and leaving also her beloved and respected father who had sent her to Swaziland in apartheid days so that she could get a good education. But she, too, was appalled by Zuma and was torn when, to her grief, her father was convinced that the case against Zuma was concocted by his enemies.

Shortly before they are about to leave, a violent incident affects their own home; South Africa is wracked by wide-spread strikes against low pay and terrible living conditions; they give shelter to a Zimbabwean whose life is in danger. Steve's comrades say, half enviously, half-bitterly, that he will be lucky to be out of it all ...

Well, I have struggled through to the end, though many times I have been tempted to give up. Despite its content (less fiction than generally quite well-known fact and with a good deal of repetition), it is so appallingly badly written that two stars is all I feel able to give it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good start, 3 Jan 2014
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This review is from: No Time Like the Present (Kindle Edition)
A favourite author. Only just started reading but a good beginning - hope it will continue to be as interesting.
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4.0 out of 5 stars No time like the Present, 24 Oct 2013
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I chose four star rating as the book was delivered promptly and in very good condition. Thankyou. I did not enjoy the book however. It was too heavy reading and I didn't finish it.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece, 18 May 2013
This review is from: No Time Like the Present (Kindle Edition)
I think this book is like impressionist art. Close up you just see blobs on canvas. You have to step back to see the whole. Likewise, when you read this book, don't scrutinise every sentence, just keep reading and the whole is revealed. It's a masterpiece, a fantastic picture of post apartied South Africa.
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3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 15 Aug 2012
Amazing book! It gives a really good perspective on post apartheid South Africa. I wouldn't have expected anything different from the author, obviously, but I think she surpassed herself with this. Read it!!
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No Time Like the Present by Nadine Gordimer
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