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Nadine Gordimer's Fiction-bookcover

By: Syeda Faiqa Mazhar

Nadine Gordimer's Fiction

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Nadine Gordimer’s Fiction is a major study of the life and writings of Nadine Gordimer, a towering figure in the literary and cultural life of South Africa in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, recognised for her fiction through several prizes, most notably the 1991 Nobel Prize for Literature. It has the makings of a guide, taking the reader through the complexities in Gordimer’s life, literature, and society, backed by academic research (doctoral and postdoctoral) and informed by Dr. Mazhar’s study visit to South Africa, including a face-to-face interview with Gordimer. The reader gets a rich picture mediated by the author’s own intellectual journey from Pakistan – the country of her birth – and the United Kingdom. Dr. Mazhar maps the complexities of colonialism in South Africa and beyond in different forms, most notably in the legislated discrimination based on race/ethnicity, Apartheid (1948–1994). Covering the literary writings and political activism of Gordimer both during and after Apartheid, the book provides the reader with a detailed account of individual works of fiction, and vistas of critical thought and action that serve as their source and backdrop.Dr. Mazhar draws on the cultural theories of Homi Bhabha, especially on the notion of The Third Space, a fictional space/borderland between social and political polarisations, which allows for reflection, refinement, and re-action that is transformational and psychologically uplifting. She demonstrates that Gordimer takes her characters through such spaces, which allow for a transformational experience that leads to perspectives/realisations that were missing as a result of constraints that were externally imposed by law and tradition and interiorised as a survival mode. Dr. Mazhar concludes that Gordimer gracefully articulates her vision for a world free of complexities, which one must strive for.Although the book presents the academic analysis of Gordimer‘s fiction and the memoir as separate parts, there are organic connections between the two, which link the social ethos, political struggles, varied ideological perspectives, and ethnic and trans-ethnic identities from which Gordimer draws her subjects and their lives and depicts them through appropriate narrative techniques.Nadine Gordimer’s Fiction is a welcome addition to books on author studies, literary criticism, and South African culture and society. It offers excellent material for both academic and non-academic readers. The style of writing used in the book is clear and simple, yet powerful. This can help the reader to appreciate the enormous achievement of Gordimer, which has established her as a major literary figure in South Africa and beyond.Dr. Balasubramanyam Chandramohan PhD (Shef), FHEA, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London

Syeda Faiqa Mazhar’s academic journey has gone through many
transitional phases. She achieved an M.A. degree in English
Language and Literature to add to her M.Phil./Ph.D. research
studies. During this phase of life, she discovered her passion
for post-colonial literary discourses. This led to exploring
themes of race, borderland, and identity with an exclusive focus
on Nobel laureate South African writer Nadine Gordimer’s
fiction. This book is an outcome of Dr. Mazhar’s post-doctoral
project conceived and researched during her Visiting Research
Fellowship at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, School
of Advanced Study, University of London, United Kingdom.

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