GordimerÆs meticulous charting of human weakness and self-deception is as exact as ever... Deeply exhilarating.(The Boston Globe)
Gordimer is brilliant... Her stories are achingly beautiful. (Pittsburgh Post- Gazette)
A remarkable collection. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
These stories are rarely easy. Their language is swift, often fiercely compressed. Gordimer flouts conventions of syntax, requiring the reader to reconstruct sentences. But she possesses ample creative energy to lead you through them all, and the best of them, without frank teaching, are dulce and utile both. — Jonathan Penner
Nadine Gordimer turns 80 this year. Her new collection of stories,
Loot, is her first since 1991, the year she won the Nobel Prize
in Literature. Composed of diverse pieces, from novellas to near
fragments, it is a volume whose cohesion lies in its engagement with
death. The book is dedicated to Gordimer's late husband, and the
complicated burden of loss suffuses its pages. At times ironic, at
others enraged, defiant or rueful, the work gathered here reflects the
unflinching ferocity of its author's imagination. — Claire
As was the case with many South African writers, Gordimer's fiction benefited, ironically enough, from the stark moral contrasts created by apartheid. The nine stories in this collection show Gordimer trying to gain a fictional perspective on the new era, and there are some missteps among them as she employs heavy-handed symbolism and less-than-revelatory social observations ("They had met at a party, the customary first stage in the white middle-class ritual of mating choices"). The title story describes an earthquake that "tipped a continental shelf" and drew back the ocean over a vast expanse, so that the detritus of the past, littered over the ocean floor, has been revealed. In response, people rush down into the former ocean bed and try to pry up treasure, unaware that the ocean, in a great wave, is coming back. In another allegorical story, "Look-Alikes," homeless, unemployed laborers invade a college campus, staking out a campsite in the sports fields, and are joined, sneakily at first, then openly, by the college's sympathetic faculty. "Karma" is a series of emblematic sketches set in various periods between WWII and the present day, which include the stories of Norma, an antiapartheid activist who got caught in a corruption scandal, and Denise, a white baby adopted by a black family in apartheid days, absurdly forbidden by law from marrying her white lover. These vividly imagined characters are among the best in the book, but the story is burdened with an awkward reincarnation conceit that is meant to hold the disparate episodes together. Overall, the stories feel tentative, as though they were straight out of Gordimer's sketch book, and needed a layer of finish. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Nobel prize winner Gordimer will turn 80 this year, and this new collection appears over 50 years after her first collection, Face to Face, was published in South Africa. Revolving around concepts of guilt and innocence, responsibility, justice, and retribution, the ten stories in Loot can be read metaphorically for a country and a citizenry with much to answer for. The stories range from a multipart account of a soul's travel through several lifetimes to a brief vignette about a giant tidal wave that in its retreat reveals treasure and broken bodies on the ocean floor and returns to bury all the treasure hunters. In between are tales of first love and late-in-life romance. This compelling collection presents a bleak view of human existence in general and of Africa's colonial past in particular. Written with a sharp sense of irony, it should be a part of every fiction collection.-Rebecca Stuhr, Grinnell Coll. Libs., IA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
The collision of personal and political agendas and ideals is analyzed with radiant precision and wit in the 1991 Nobel laureate’s ninth collection: eight adamantine stories and two ambitious novellas. Several of the former are commandingly terse, including the parabolic title story, in which an earthquake reveals both a cluttered ocean floor and the consequences in store for "scavengers" who scurry to its depths; a wry tale of inchoate sexual surrender ("The Diamond Mine"); the monologue of an assassin visiting the grave of his widely beloved victim ("Homage"); and a mordant peek at the transitory nature of earthly pleasures seen in the context of a malarial mosquito’s lurking presence ("An Emissary"). Gordimer’s underappreciated comic gift sparkles in "The Generation Gap," a beautifully handled tale showing how adult children react when their aging father leaves their mother for a much younger woman. It’s a rich revelation of generational and gender incompatibility and miscommunication, which ends with a jolt as Gordimer engineers a sudden shift of viewpoint. She’s a brilliant technician, as evidenced by a masterly style that blends serpentine discursive sentences with crisp, clipped fragments: the effect is of a roving intelligence constantly surprised, and stimulated to further exploration, by its own insights. Her methods work to near-perfection in the novellas "Karma," in which a deceased insurance executive’s spirit makes successive returns to earth (as, e.g., a male, a female, a stillborn baby) "to continue his experience in another place, time"; and in its counterpart, "Mission Statement," the story of a middle-aged Englishwoman, Roberta Blayne, who works for an international aidagency in an impoverished African nation, where she has a sexual relationship with a native "Deputy Director of Land Affairs"but declines the opportunity to become his "second wife." The tale’s an amazingly compact study of racial and social divisions and their stifling denial of individual freedom. Gordimer (The Pickup, 2001, etc.) can still deliver a rabbit punch to the solar plexus as efficiently as anybody now writing. Maybe they should give her the Nobel Prize again.