by Nadine Gordimer
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books (November 20, 1980)
Rosa Burger grew up in a home under constant surveillance by the South African government. Her parents were detained for their political beliefs; her father died in prison, and her mother, whose health suffered from her time in jail, eventually dies. Rosa, a white South African in her early twenties, is left the only surviving member of her family. Yet even after her parents’ deaths, the history of their anti-apartheid beliefs and practices have a daily impact on her life: it seems everyone has expectations of her and the government is still watching. A quiet, private person, Rosa constantly searches her memories to find herself, to grasp this heritage that weighs her down. Over a period of several years Rosa comes to understand the impact of the South African political climate on her and how she became who she is.
Take time to read this novel; the political realities it describes are complicated. The narrative style varies from straightforward storytelling to Rosa’s most personal thoughts. In Burger’s Daughter, Nobel Prize-winner Nadine Gordimer takes a situation most read about in newspapers and makes it real, creating a memorable story of coming to terms with circumstances over which we have little control, yet which directly affect our lives. — 500 Great Books by Women; review by Holly Smith
About the author
Nadine Gordimer (20 November 1923 – 13 July 2014) was a South African writer, political activist and recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature. She was recognized as a woman “who through her magnificent epic writing has – in the words of Alfred Nobel – been of very great benefit to humanity.”
Gordimer’s writing dealt with moral and racial issues, particularly apartheid in South Africa. Under that regime, works such as Burger’s Daughter and July’s People were banned. She was active in the anti-apartheid movement, joining the African National Congress during the days when the organization was banned. She was also active in HIV/AIDS causes.
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