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Fellow Writers Pay Tribute to Late Author Nadine Gordimer

July 15, 2014, 3:04 am GMT

The Nobel Prize-winning writer, who wrote many literary works dealing with moral and racial issues, especially apartheid in South Africa, died in her house on Sunday.



Nadine Gordimer, a South African writer who won Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991, died in her house in Johannesburg on July 13. Her family confirmed the sad news, saying that Nadine passed away after a brief illness.

Nadine's family said, "She cared most deeply about South Africa, its culture, its people, and its ongoing struggle to realise its new democracy." They added that Nadine's "proudest days" included winning the Nobel prize and testifying as the representative of a group of anti-apartheid activists who were accused of treason in 1980s.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation paid tribute to Nadine, saying that it was "deeply saddened at the loss of South Africa's grande dame of literature." They added, "We have lost a great writer, a patriot and strong voice for equality and democracy in the world."

Victor Dlamini, a writer and a photographer, also paid a tribute to the late author. He praised Nadine, "I studied at the University of Natal during apartheid and was always struck by how, in the tradition of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, she was not afraid to tackle the issues of the day. She never had that idea that literature must be pure of the issues of society. She was able to look at the society and write hauntingly beautifully about it but at the same time unsparingly leave you in no doubt who was right and who was wrong."

"Unlike a lot of literary figures who gravitate towards power once they win awards, she resolutely avoided the ministers and stuck with her friends. She felt there was no separation between social justice and literary concerns," he continued, "There was always this sense that once apartheid was dismantled, South Africans would have nothing to write about, but as she showed in 'No Time Like the Present', history takes a long time to dismantle. The past is in the present."

Maureen Isaacson, a literary journalist who became Nadine's close friend for the past 15 years, recalled her times with Nadine, "It was rewarding and challenging, She was not indulgent in any way. Her influence on me was focus and discipline. She was always pushing me to greater understanding and clarity. She was just an all round social being; she loved theatre and reading and new talent. She was interested and interesting."

Craig Higginson, a novelist and playwright, remembered Nadine as being "incredibly generous and supportive to me. She would come to the Market Theatre and stand in a cold corridor at 10 at night to talk to you about your play."

Tributes not only came from South Africa. Margaret Atwood, Canadian writer and fellow Booker Prize winner, paid tribute to Nadine on Twitter, "Very sorry to hear that Nadine Gordimer has died. One of the greats, and a fearless spokesperson for human rights."

Nadine was born on November 20, 1923. Her father was a Jewish watchmaker from Latvia and her mother was a middle-class woman from England. Nadine started writing from an early age. Her first story, "Come Again Tomorrow", was published in a Johannesburg magazine when she was only 15. The major themes of her works were about the consequences of apartheid, exile and alienation. In 1974, her book "The Conservations" won a Booker Prize.

During the liberation struggle in South Africa, Nadine became a leading member of African National Congres (ANC) and fought for Nelson Mandela's release. She once said, "Having lived here for 65 years, I am well aware for how long black people refrained from violence. We white people are responsible for it."

Nadine is survived by two children. A private memorial service for Nadine has not been announced yet.

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