No Time Like the Present [NOOK Book]


A sharply observed new novel about post-apartheid South Africa from the Nobel Prize winner

Nadine Gordimer is one of our most telling contemporary writers. With each new work, she attacks—with a clear-eyed fierceness, a lack of sentimentality, and a deep understanding of the darkest depths of the human soul—her eternal themes: the inextricable link between personal and communal history; the inescapable moral ambiguities of daily life; the ...
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No Time Like the Present

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A sharply observed new novel about post-apartheid South Africa from the Nobel Prize winner

Nadine Gordimer is one of our most telling contemporary writers. With each new work, she attacks—with a clear-eyed fierceness, a lack of sentimentality, and a deep understanding of the darkest depths of the human soul—her eternal themes: the inextricable link between personal and communal history; the inescapable moral ambiguities of daily life; the political and racial tensions that persist in her homeland, South Africa. And in each new work is fresh evidence of her literary genius: in the sharpness of her psychological insights, the stark beauty of her language, the complexity of her characters, and the difficult choices with which they are faced.

In No Time Like the Present, Gordimer trains her keen eye on Steve and Jabulile, an interracial couple living in a newly, tentatively, free South Africa. They have a daughter, Sindiswa; they move to the suburbs; Steve becomes a lecturer at a university; Jabulile trains to become a lawyer; there is another child, a boy this time. There is nothing so extraordinary about their lives, and yet, in telling their story and the stories of their friends and families, Gordimer manages to capture the tortured, fragmented essence of a nation struggling to define itself post-apartheid.

The subject is contemporary, but Gordimer’s treatment is, as ever, timeless. In No Time Like the Present, she shows herself once again a master novelist, at the height of her prodigious powers.
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Editorial Reviews

Francine Prose
very much worth the trip for the sharp and affecting views of human interaction that the novel invites us to contemplate and explore…As always, Gordimer excels at pulling back for a panoramic vista of a time and place, then narrowing her focus to remind us of the highly specific ways that politics shape the private lives of unique individuals, people not unlike ourselves. Only a novelist with Gordimer's gifts can offer so much information, at such depth, about the cataclysmic battles and the rough transition to peace that she and her characters have witnessed, a war she survived to report on to us, her grateful readers.
—The New York Times Book Review
From the Publisher
No Time Like the Present is Gordimer’s best novel since her first, The Lying Days.”—-Susan Salter Reynolds, Newsday


“To read No Time Like the Present is to plunge into the cauldron that is South Africa today.... Although she is eighty-eight, Gordimer has all the enthusiasm of youth as she celebrates what she sees all around her. Her approach is kaleidoscopic.”—-Los Angeles Times


“Gordimer sees history, power, and a gnawing desire for something secular yet entwined in every mundane gesture. The personal remains political even when the great political fight has been won.”—-Maureen Corrigan, NPR


“Every once in a while, you begin to read a book and suddenly realize you are experiencing greatness. This is such a book….There are few, if any, writers today who can match Nadine Gordimer….May she never stop.”—-The Washington Times


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374709129
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 3/27/2012
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 286,897
  • File size: 448 KB

Meet the Author

Nadine Gordimer, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991, is the author of fourteen novels, more than ten volumes of stories, and three nonfiction collections. She lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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Read an Excerpt


By Nadine Gordimer

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC

Copyright © 2012 Nadine Gordimer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-374-22264-2

Chapter One

Glengrove Place. It isn't a glen and there isn't a grove. It must have been named by a Scot or Englishman for features of a home left behind, when he made money in this city at more than five thousand feet and entered the property market enterprise.

But it has been a place. It was somewhere they could live— together, when there wasn't anywhere to do so lawfully. The rent for the apartment was high, for them then, but it included a certain complicity on the part of the owner of the building and the caretaker, nothing comes for nothing when law-abiding people are taking some risk of breaking the law. As a tenant, he had the kind of English- or European-sounding name no different from others usual on the tenants' mailboxes beside the elevator in the entrance; a potted cactus decorative there, if there was no grove. She was simply the added appendage 'Mrs'. They actually were married, although that was unlawful, too. In the neighbouring country where she had gone into exile just over the border to study, and he, a young white man whose political affiliations made it necessary for him to disappear from the university in the city for a time, they, imprudently ignoring the consequence inevitable back home, had fallen in love and got themselves married.

Back home in South Africa, she became a teacher at a private school run by the Fathers of a Catholic order tolerated outside state-segregated education, able there to use her natal surname on non-racial principles. She was black, he was white. That was all that mattered. All that was identity then. Simple as the black letters on this white page. It was in those two identities that they transgressed. And got away with it, more rather than less. They were not visible enough, politically well known enough to be worth prosecution under the Immorality Act, better to be watched, followed if they might, on the one hand, make footprints which could lead to more important activists, or on the chance they might be candidates for recruitment to report back from whatever level, dissident to revolutionary, they were privy to. In fact, he was one of those who, while a student, had been sidled up to with finely judged suggestions either of the cause of patriotic loyalty or, maybe, youth's equally assumed natural lack of funds, and had it made clear to him not to worry, he'd be ensured of his own safety and no longer be so hard up if he would remember what was said in the huddles where it was known he was present and had his part. Swallowing a gob of disgust and mimicking the tone of the approach, he refused—not that the man recognised rejection not only of the offer but also of the man who had agreed to be a political police pimp.

She was black, but there's a great deal more to that now than what was the beginning and end of existence as recorded in an outdated file of an outdated country, even though the name hasn't changed. She was born back in that time; her name is a signature to the past from which she comes, christened in the Methodist church where one of her grandfathers had been a pastor and her father, headmaster at a local school for black boys, was an Elder, her mother chairlady of the church ladies' society. The Bible was the source of baptismal first names along with the second, African ones, with which white people, whom the child would grow up to have to please, deal with in this world, had no association of identity. Rebecca Jabulile.

He was white. But that's also not as definitive as coded in old files. Born in the same past era, a few years before her, he's a white mix—that was of no significance so long as the elements were white. Actually, his mix is quite complicated in certain terms of identity not determined by colour. His father was a gentile, secular, nominally observant Christian, his mother Jewish. It is the mother's identity which is decisive in the identity of a Jew, the mother whom one can be sure of when it comes to parental conception. If the mother is Jewish that is the claim for her son within the faith, and of course this implies ritual circumcision. His father evidently raised no objection, perhaps like many agnostics even atheists he secretly envied those practising the illusion of a religious faith—or was it indulgence for the wife he loved. If that's what she wanted, important to her in a way he didn't understand. Let the foreskin be cut.


Excerpted from NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT by Nadine Gordimer Copyright © 2012 by Nadine Gordimer. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2012

    Very well written

    This is one of the most beautiful books I ever read! You feel the character's emotions, and the author makes ordinary events compelling. You feel what apraheid left behind and how there is still some of it left.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 15, 2012

    didn't like it

    I wanted to read this for a book club, but could not get past a couple of chapters and have given up on it.

    This was written by a reputable, highly praised author, so it could be me. However, my impression was that it was written in a dense style in which the structure of a sentence was wrested from its usual flow into a collection of words to be pondered, worked on, I want to say, unscrambled. I do not believe this added to the novel and in my case it sunk it.

    Additionally, the personalities of the mixed-marriage couple were flat and showed no indivuality beyond the contrast between how a black woman in South Africa was raised versus how a white man was raised. They just seemed to be types that went along with South African society.

    Terrorism is presented as the thing to do. I don't agree, even when the cause is socially popular.

    Maybe if I read further I would have changed my opinion, but the experience was so unpleasant I guess I'll never know.

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  • Posted May 8, 2012

    Minor Gordimer

    No Time Like The Present is one of Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer's minor pieces of fiction. The writing is strained and thick; the characters not fully fleshed and the overall impact only a whisper where it needed a shout. I am a Gordimer fan, and this fiction was a big disappointment.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2012

    Good ideas presented in terrible prose make this book a frustrat

    Good ideas presented in terrible prose make this book a frustrating read. This is just poor craftmanship.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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