Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer dies in her beloved South Africa

Nadine Gordimer

Nadine Gordimer, a South African author who won the Nobel Prize for novels that explored the cost of racial conflict in apartheid-era South Africa, has died at the age of 90, her family said.

Gordimer, who won the literature prize in 1991, three years before the end of white minority rule, died peacefully in her sleep at her home in Johannesburg, the family said in a statement. Her son, Hugo, and daughter, Oriane, were with her at the time, it said.

Gordimer wrote 15 novels as well as several volumes of short stories, non-fiction and other works, and was published in 40 languages around the world, according to the family statement.

“She cared most deeply about South Africa, its culture, its people, and its ongoing struggle to realise its new democracy,” the family said.

They said her “proudest days” included winning the Nobel Prize and giving evidence in the 1980s on behalf of a group of anti-apartheid activists who had been accused of treason.

Gordimer was first a fiction writer.

As a white South African who hated apartheid’s dehumanisation of blacks, she also played a political role in her country’s troubled history.

During the apartheid years, she praised Nelson Mandela, the prisoner who later became president, and accepted the decision of the main anti-apartheid movement, African National Congress, to use violence against South Africa’s white-led government.

“Having lived here for 65 years,” she said, “I am well aware for how long black people refrained from violence. We white people are responsible for it.”

Gordimer said her first “adult story”, published in a literary magazine when she was 15, grew out of her reaction as a young child to watching the casual humiliation of blacks.

She won the Booker Prize in 1974 for The Conservationist, a novel about a white South African who loses everything.

Among Gordimer’s best-known novels is Burger’s Daughter, which appeared in 1979, three years after the Soweto student uprising brought the brutality of apartheid to the world’s attention.


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