Paperbacks of the year: Telling Times: Writing and Living 1950-2008, By Nadine Gordimer

When brother was turned against brother

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

This compendium of non-fiction from Nadine Gordimer, the South African Nobel Laureate, is a rich and wide-ranging affair.

In it we find autobiographical essays and literary criticism, reportage and travelogue. But Telling Times is notable mainly for her vigorous opposition to apartheid. She writes with the precision and authority of a great moralist: "Men are not born brothers; they have to discover each other, and it is this discovery that apartheid seeks to prevent." One of her best aphorisms is a rejoinder to Keats: "The truth isn't always beauty, but the hunger for it is." Only last month, she challenged government attempts to gag South Africa's media, demonstrating that her own hunger for truth remains a powerful force.