Beethoven was One-Sixteenth Black, and Other Stories by Nadine Gordimer - review by Miranda France

Miranda France

The Flash of Fireflies

Beethoven was One-Sixteenth Black, and Other Stories

By

Bloomsbury 192pp £14.99 order from our bookshop
 

Nadine Gordimer is one of the great figures of our time. A political activist and excoriating critic in apartheid-era South Africa, she has more recently campaigned for social justice and AIDS education. She was one of the first to be invited to meet Nelson Mandela on his release from prison. In 1991 she won the Nobel Prize for literature. At eighty-four Gordimer is still hard-working and curious, and as acerbic as ever about the failings of modern society: our infatuation with money, scandal and superficiality. I admire almost everything about her. My only reservations concern her writing.

I confess to having read only two of Gordimer’s other books: The Pick Up and Loot. I struggled to find them interesting, mostly because of problems to do with syntax. The same applies here. Gordimer writes as though she could not care about tenses, whether verbs are transitive or not,

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