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.