My son's story

by Nadine Gordimer

Hardcover, 1990




New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, c1990.


This novel combines a passionate love story and a haunting portrayal of contemporary South Africa. It describes what it is really like to live a life determined by the struggle to be free. Nadine Gordimer's other books include The Conservationist, Burger's Daughter, and July's People.

User reviews

LibraryThing member guiltlessreader
After a few false starts and stops, I finally got into this extremely well-told tale of apartheid and revolution in South Africa. The beauty of it is that the secret lives of each family member can get so engrossing, that you seem to actually know them.
LibraryThing member porch_reader
Will is the son to whom the title refers. He is the son of "Sonny," a former schoolteacher and key player in the anti-apartheid movement, and Aila, who cares for Will and his sister Baby and remains uninvolved in Sonny's life as a revolutionary. Will is haunted by a chance meeting with his father
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one afternoon at a movie theater. His father is there with a white woman. Will knows her because she works for a human rights group and visited their home when Sonny was in prison, but he also knows that she is something more to his father. With that the story begins to unfold, weaving back and forth in time to reveal the impact of an affair and a revolution on a family.

I fell under Gordimer's spell immediately. She is a gifted storyteller. Her writing is breathtaking. Consider this description of Will's life:

"There's no air in my life. The polished corridors of police stations and prisons have been the joy-rides I've been taken on with the people I love."

Or this description of the Supreme Court in the Palace of Justice:

"I sat in the great entrance hall among majestic pillars with polished brass feet, under lozenges of coloured light that came steeply from stained-glass windows; their churches and their halls of justice are somehow mixed up, the see some divine authority in their laws."

This book is an excellent example of how the story of a single family, while different from the story of every other family, can begins the last chapter with this observation:

"It's an old story - ours. My father's and mine. Love, love/hate are the most common and universal of experiences. But no two are alike, each is a fingerprint of life. That's the miracle that makes literature and links it with creation itself in the biological be used to illustrate a nation's history. Will himself makes this point. Part of the story is told from Will's perspective, and he sense."

I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading more of Gordimer's work.
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