English PEN is saddened to learn of the death aged 90 of South African writer Nadine Gordimer, peacefully at her home in Johannesburg
One of the literary world’s most prominent speakers and activists against apartheid, she received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991. Called one of the ‘great guerrillas of the imagination’ by the late Seamus Heaney, Gordimer was the author of more than 30 books, including The Lying Days, July’s People, and Burger’s Daughter. A first edition of her novel The Conservationist, which jointly won the Booker Prize in 1974, was successfully auctioned as part of the English PEN First Editions, Second Thoughts fundraiser in 2013. Donating the copy, annotated by herself, Nadine Gordimer commented: ‘I suppose my judgement is prejudicial but for me this novel and Burger’s Daughter are the works in which I find most of what there was to be found in the discovery of life’.
Jo Glanville, Director of English PEN, who interviewed Nadine Gordimer at one of her last public appearances in London, said:
‘Nadine Gordimer was remarkable not just for her literary achievements, but her unceasing dedication as a campaigner. Her most recent novel No Time Like the Present was a despairing analysis of post-apartheid South Africa that demonstrated how deeply engaged she remained with the political future of a country she had documented so acutely throughout her life. She was at the forefront of outspoken campaigners against South Africa’s Secrecy Bill. At one of her last appearances in the UK, she was more interested in galvanising the audience to protest than in talking about her own work. We were proud that she was an honorary member of English PEN.’
Photo: Radu Sigheti/Reuters