The House Gun

by Nadine Gordimer

Paper Book, 2012





New York : Picador, 2012.


A house gun, like a house cat: a fact of ordinary life, today. How else can you defend yourself against losing your hi-fi equipment, your TV set and computer? The respected Executive Director of an insurance company, Harald, and his doctor wife, Claudia, are faced with something that could never happen to them: their son, Duncan, has committed murder. What kind of loyalty do a mother and father owe a son who has committed the unimaginable horror? How could he have ignored the sanctity of human life? What have they done to influence his character; how have they failed him? Nadine Gordimer's new novel is a passionate narrative of the complex manifestations of that final test of human relations we call love - between lovers of all kinds, and parents and children. It moves with the restless pace of living itself; if it is a parable of present violence, it is also an affirmation of the will to reconciliation that starts where it must, between individual men and women.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member herschelian
Very thought provoking on several levels, this is the story of a respectable, moral, middle-class South African couple whose son commits a terrible crime. The effect of his crime on his parents, their anguish and incomprehension are very real. I think this is one of Gordimer's finest novels.
LibraryThing member miketroll
In modern day South Africa, the architect son of a white professional couple (she doctor, he company director) is arrested and charged with the murder of a house mate. He is manifestly responsible for the shooting. His parents engage a smart black defence lawyer.

Nadine Gordimer’s novel was interesting more than enjoyable. In fact I didn’t like it much at all, even though some of the writing is of high quality.

The son, the murderer, remains an enigma throughout. He says next to nothing in his own defence and makes no effort to “explain” his act. Parents and lawyer are left to exercise their minds on this question, to formulate plausible mitigation and to find their own peace with the son’s fateful deed.

And exercise their minds they do - oh yes! - repetitiously, tediously retracing the sequence of events leading to the murder, In this there may be verisimilitude, but it lends the novel a dull, static quality. There is no unfolding, no revelation. We know as much but no more at the end than we did at the beginning.

There is also no light relief in the narrative, no jokes, little irony. Rather an intense intellectual earnestness about the entire work. It was this aspect that I found interesting, perhaps typical of South African writers. For conscientious citizens trapped in the bizarre unreality of the apartheid era, turning inward for solutions must have been a commonplace response. As reader, one can feel the neurosis, the constant nervous strain of it all.
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LibraryThing member screamingbanshee
I felt like I was holding my breath throughout the whole book, expecting something earthshaking to happen. But a third into it, I was still waiting ... halfway into it, still waiting... and when the moment arrived, arrrrggghhh, is that IT?Not exactly a page-turner, but an incisive look into the psychology of parents to their child. How well do you really know your child? If your son were accused of murder, would you feel obligated to believe him as innocent? To what lengths would you protect your son?
It also examines to a lesser degree white-black relations and power play in South Africa.
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LibraryThing member legalfiction
This is a brilliantly crafted book focusing on the interaction betweeen the parents and their son's lawyer. It includes courtroom action.



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