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July's People by Nadine Gordimer

July's People

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April 2011 Guest Editor Lesley Lokko on Nadine Gordimer...

One of the first lines of the extraordinary novel, July’s People, by the South African writer goes, ‘You like to have some cup of tea?’ It was the first time I’d ever seen African-accented English in written prose and from that moment on, I was hooked. I grew up in West Africa with a host of accents and languages all around me and I can still recall exactly what it was like to see that world reflected through someone else’s eyes and words. I loved Enid Blyton as a child but Daryl Rivers’ world was a whole galaxy away from mine, and reading Gordimer, aged sixteen, difficult as she sometimes is, sparked a life-long love affair...and is probably the reason I now live in Johannesburg. Books really can and do change your life.

If you like Nadine Gordimer you might also like to read books by Russell Banks.


July's People by Nadine Gordimer

For years, it has been what is called a 'deteriorating situation'. Now all over South Africa the cities are battlegrounds. The members of the Smales family - liberal whites - are rescued from the terror by their servant, July, who leads them to refuge in his native village. What happens to the Smaleses and to July - the shifts in character and relationships - gives us an unforgettable look into the terrifying, tacit understandings and misunderstandings between blacks and whites.


'Breathtaking ... It is so flawlessly written that every one of its events seems chillingly, ominously possible'
Anne Tyler, New York Times Book Review

'If one were never to read any other literature about South Africa, Gordimer's work would be enough ... As a literary keeper of records, she has no peer'
Sunday Times

'Nadine Gordimer is the real thing: by which I mean a true writer of graphic power, palpitating sensibility, and high and persistent emotional voltage'

About the Author

Nadine Gordimer

Nadine Gordimer was born in Springs, South Africa in 1923. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991 and was the joint winner of the Booker Prize for The Conservationist in 1974. Nadine Gordimer has been awarded honorary doctorates from Oxford and Cambridge, is the vice-president of International PEN and a spokesperson for the United Nations Development Project to eradicate poverty.

A co-founder of the Congress of South African Writers, Nadine Gordimer is a strong advocate of literature and free speech. She has also made a number of television documentaries and written a large collection of articles, literary criticism and speeches. She travels extensively in Africa, Europe, and North and South America. Nadine Gordimer died in 2014.

Photograph © Sophie Bassouls

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Book Info

Publication date

21st November 2005


Nadine Gordimer

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Bloomsbury Publishing PLC


208 pages


Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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