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Monday, November 20, 2017

Making sense of life

“Writing is making sense of life. You work your whole life and perhaps you've made sense of one small area.”—Nadine Gordimer

Born on this date in 1923, Gordimer was a South African writer, political activist and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. She was recognized at her Nobel ceremony as a woman "who through her magnificent epic writing has – in the words of Alfred Nobel – been of very great benefit to humanity"

Gordimer, who died in 2014, wrote on moral and racial issues – particularly apartheid – in South Africa and her best-selling works like Burger's Daughter and July's People were banned by the South African government.  Virtually all of Gordimer's works deal with themes of love and politics in the lives of ordinary people, almost always questioning power relations and truth. 
                                     In addition to the Nobel, she won many dozens of other major writing awards, including the Booker Prize, the James Tait Award, and the Central News Agency Literary Award.  She also received 15 honorary degrees.  She began writing early and had her first work – a short story for children – published at age 15.  Her writing led to 21 collections of short stories and 15 novels, plus plays, dozens of essays, and many reviews.

Her advice to other writers was to look to the best writers in history as a guide.  “For example,” she noted, “From Ernest Hemingway's stories, I learned to listen within my own stories for what went unsaid by my characters.”

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