Nadine Gordimer is one of the latest respondents in The Guardian‘s Q&A series which features, among other substantial personalities, Twiggy and Derren Brown.
Gordimer, who launched her latest novel, No Time Like the Present, at Exclusive Books Hyde Park this week, tackles the questions with the ease of someone who has answered them all before. However, she still asserts that her “most unappealing habit” is her tendency to give “sharp answers to intrusive people.”
While we’ll go to great lengths to remember our cultural icons and preserve their history, Gordimer says rather poignantly, “let me be forgotten”:
When were you happiest?
Camping in the bushveld with my man.
What is your earliest memory?
Turning round on my seat at a pantomime, my first time in a theatre, aged about three.
Which living person do you most admire, and why?
Nelson Mandela. The epitome of courage and intelligence.
No Time Like the Present, Nadine Gordimer’s latest and arguably finest novel, was launched at Exclusive Books Hyde Park last night. As with many of her former works, No Time Like the Present deals with issues of identity, race and various socio-political issues that are unique to the complexity of being South African.
Pan Macmillan’s Terry Morris introduced the eighty-four-year-old Nobel laureate, saying, “Nadine has just returned from a rather gruelling trip to the UK. The publicity around No Time Like the Present has been remarkable and the book has been reviewed by Gillian Slovo in The Guardian and Boyd Tonkin in the Telegraph. It has also reached massive acclaim and our local media coverage has been just as spectacular.”
Victor Dlamini, one of the finest commentators on South African literature, followed Morris with his own introduction. Dlamini revealed what an honour it was to introduce the esteemed author’s latest “work of the imagination”, saying that the book is “very interesting because even though Nadine did not yield to the nomadic impulse and has stayed in South Africa all her life, the book deals with exile.”
Dlamini noted that the issue of identity has always played a central role in Gordimer’s works. He argued, “Even though it is now 2012 and we have had 18 years to wrestle with this notion of what it is to be South African, in her writing we get this sense of wrestling with identity in a very deep way, resisting the edge of the usual boundaries. She clearly relishes language and both her fiction and non-fiction rewards the reader with passages of exquisitely written prose. But it is perhaps the scalpel that Nadine brings to even the simplest notions; she insists on slicing through them to reveal what they contain inside. One of her remarks is particularly telling. She says, ‘No-one is ordinary’.”
Dlamini explained how Steve, a central character in No Time Like the Present and the son of a Jewish mother and a Christian father, could be categorised simply as a ‘white man’. But when you probe deeper you realise these easy notions do not reveal much beyond the label. “Gordimer explores identity without the reductionism that is so prevalent in our popular media”, he said. He noted how Gordimer, who has been writing since 1950 and through many political epochs, “explores personal responsibility and the socio-economic and political frontiers that bedevil even the most innocent human interaction. She dares to revisit the concept of race, even though years of political correctness has dulled this subject.”
Following in the wake of Dlamini’s praise, Gordimer concluded the launch by treating her audience to a reading from No Time Like the Present.
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Victor Dlamini also posted a few tweets from the launch:
A seriously packed launch at Nadine Gordimer’s No Time Like The Present this evening
To celebrate Picador’s 40th anniversary we are re-issuing some of our classic fiction titles. Among them you will find prize-winning books, books that have become global sales hits, books that caused huge controversy when published or were published to huge critical acclaim. Together they are a valuable set of must-reads.
The re-issues are due for release in April 2012.
Neil Lang, Senior Designer at Picador said:
“The Picador 40th design initially started conceptually, before the titles were confirmed which enabled me to concentrate on creating a series style.
Once the titles were confirmed, I tried many different approaches; using typography only to convey the subject, a template into which different illustrations could fit, very simple shapes and flat colours – all of which evolved into the more detailed black and white series. Some titles would obviously benefit from being less graphic and so I commissioned Rob Hunter to work alongside me on those.
Originally the series started with a more rigid feel, using the same typography and positioning on all, but by using the black and white to unite them it meant that a typeface could be chosen to suit each title. Of course, I couldn’t resist a nod to the classic white spine which always looked great on a bookshelf.
Every cover is different and I think works individually, but when seen together work as a set, although I’m sure everyone will have a favourite myself included!”
Each book comes with a section of extra material which historicises the book and provides a spring board for readers to discover more. These pages include contemporary review coverage, author interviews and essays, original jacket art work, reading guides, information about adapting the books for film as well as information about other books by the authors and recommended reading lists.
The SABC has also provided a short summary of the launch:
Former Director General in the Presidency Frank Chikane says South Africans must not be afraid to stand up and refuse to be governed by corrupt people. He was speaking at the launch of his book called Eight Days in September: The Removal of Thabo Mbeki in Sandton last night.
Michelle Magwood and Camilla Twigg invite you to join them for an evening with Nadine Gordimer at Villa Arcadia on Friday, 30 March 2012. Gordimer will discuss her brand new novel, No Time Like the Present, in conversation with literary critic Maureen Isaacson.
The event costs R120 per person, but includes food and a range of award-winning wines from Spier.
Nobel Prize winner Nadine Gordimer recently appeared on Carte Blanche, South Africa’s premier investigative journalism show, to discuss her latest novel with Devi Sankaree Govender.
Gordimer explained how the book’s title, No Time Like the Present, has a double meaning. While it alludes, most obviously, to the old adage that “we can’t keep waiting for a better life; there’s no time like the present to do something”, it also refers to the fact that “there’s no time like the present because we’ve never lived this way before”.
Gordimer also revealed how she began to think about the differences between her family life and “what it meant to be black” as early as age 10. The theme of racial tension and inequalities in apartheid and post-apartheid South Africa is one that has carried right through to this, her 15th novel.
Unpacking the book’s charged narrative, Radio Today’s Sue Grant-Marshall spoke to Gordimer about how she chooses her characters and the themes that dominate her work.
Though Gordimer is know for her reluctance to talk about content, declaring “I never describe what’s in my book, people must read the book and decide for themselves”, she did reveal that couples like main characters Steven and Jabu are “happening around me”:
Frank Chikane, former director general to the presidency, told Polity.org that his controversial claim that Thabo Mbeki’s recall was “tantamount to a coup”, has been somewhat misunderstood.
In the interview, Chikane explains that “it is okay for a party to recall its member, but that member needs to resign voluntarily, because there is no constitutional provision for a member to leave office because the party has said so”. He emphasises that his recently released book, Eight Days in September, is about learning from past events.
Chikane reiterates the importance of learning from the past in an interview with the Mail & Guardian‘s Rapule Tabane.
Although nothing can reverse what happened, Chikane believes that we should learn from those eight days in September: “We should learn that you can’t use the national intelligence agency of the country to deal with factional issues. That you can’t use corrupt means to get into power. It is a dangerous thing because once you corrupt me, you can’t tell me not to be corrupt when I am in power.”
What made you decide to write the book?
Firstly, I had decided long ago that when I left government I would record my experiences and I thought that as I had worked as a director general, the book would be useful for academic purposes in the field in public management. We don’t have a lot of material in this regard. I had decided long before Polokwane but that I would leave government, but they pleaded with me to stay and I had agreed. However, two months before my contract was due to expire, Thabo Mbeki was recalled as president.
Hazel Bannock is the heir to the Bannock Oil Corp, a major leading global oil producer. While cruising in the Indian Ocean, Hazel’s private yacht is hijacked by African pirates. Hazel is not on board at the time, but her nineteen year old daughter, Cayla, is viciously kidnapped. The pirates demand a crippling twenty billion dollar ransom for her release.
Complicated political and diplomatic considerations render the civilized major powers incapable of intervening. When Hazel is given evidence of the horrific torture which Cayla is being subjected to, she calls on Hector Cross to help her rescue her daughter. Hector is the owner and operator of Cross Bow Security, the company which is contracted to provide all of Bannock Oil’s private security. He is a striking and formidable fighting man. Together, in a partnership of lust and desperation Hazel and Hector are determined to take the law into their own hands.
About the author
Wilbur Smith was born in Central Africa in 1933. He was educated at Michaelhouse and Rhodes University. He became a full-time writer in 1964 after the successful publication of When the Lion Feeds, and has since written over thirty novels, all meticulously researched during his numerous expeditions worldwide. His books are now translated into twenty-six languages.