Q: What’s the last great book you read?
A: “July’s People,” by Nadine Gordimer. It imagines, with coruscating insight, middle-class white liberals at the mercy of their Black servant during an insurraction against a white supremecist regime. — Pankaj Mishra, New York Times Book Review (By the Book)
“So flawlessly written that every one of its events seems chillingly, ominously possible.”—Anne Tyler, The New York Times Book Review
“Gordimer knows this complex emotional and political territory all too well and writes about it superbly.”—Newsweek
“Gordimer’s art has achieved and sustained a rare beauty. Her prose has a density and sparsity that one finds in the greatest writers.”—The New Leader
“Nadine Gordimer writes more knowingly about South Africa than anyone else.”—The New York Times“Among these powerful novels “July’s People” deserves particular mention. The events in Soweto form the background against which the novel is set. Confronted by armed rebellion, the Smales, a white family, flee with the help of July, their boy, to his own village, where they have to survive in a primitive, evacuated hut. As time goes by, the master-servant relationship is turned upside down by the family’s increasing reliance on July. The ambiguity of the novel’s title etches itself fast – July’s people are the white family he still serves but also the members of his tribe. The description of the cultural and physical coarsening which the circumstances evoke is masterly. Communication between husband and wife dries up. He tries to articulate the new situation without the old phraseology, “but the words would not come”. To refer to his wife, a pronoun is used: “Her”. Not ‘Maureen’. Not ‘His wife’… The ones who find it easiest to adapt, both linguistically and socially, are the children. The author has her reasons for using the children’s relationships to cast light on those of the adults in the novel.” –– Swedish Academy, Nobel Prizein Literature 1991 Press Release