THE CHARACTERS IN Nadine Gordimer's new collection of stories are each caught in a moment when things could change for them, but prejudice, the burden of memory, or the resonance of past injustices in the present thwart that possibility.
Take Denise, abandoned as a baby in a church lavatory, then raised by a couple who are classified Coloured in apartheid South Africa. Soon it is clear that Denise is white, and her adoptive parents make the most of the possibilities open to her, sending her to a school for whites and delighting in her appointment as a bank trainee, even if it means that she may not visit them so much in the township any more. But for all her parents' good intentions, when Denise wants to marry a white man, the marriage is not allowed, because she is also classified as 'Coloured'.
Then there is the poor Russian woman, who, through an unexpected chain of events,