Nadine Gordimer, South African writer and political activist dies at 90

South African Nobel Prize author Nadine Gordimer has died. Ms Gordimer, who was one of the literary world’s most powerful voices against apartheid, died in Johannesburg aged 90.

The late South African Nobel Prize author Nadine Gordimer

Her family said she died at her home after a short illness.

Ms Gordimer jointly won 1974’s Booker Prize for The Conservationist and was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1991.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation paid tribute to Ms Gordimer describing her as “South Africa’s grande dame of literature and friend of Nelson Mandela.”

“We would like to offer our condolences to her family, friends and comrades,” Prof Njabulo Ndebele, Chairman of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, said in a statement.

“Mr Mandela had a long friendship with Ms Gordimer, beginning in his years as a young activist and continuing after his release from prison in 1990. During the Rivonia Trial Ms Gordimer worked on biographical sketches of Mr Mandela and his co-accused to send overseas in order to publicise the trial,” Prof Ndebele said.

In his autobiography, Mr Mandela wrote of his time in prison: “I tried to read books about South Africa or by South African writers. I read all the unbanned novels of Nadine Gordimer and learned a great deal about the white liberal sensibility.”

Speaking in the President’s Budget Debate in South Africa’s Senate on 18th June 1996 on the role culture plays in nation building, Mr Mandela said: “We think of Nadine Gordimer, who won international acclaim as our first winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, and whose writing was enriched by the cultural kaleidoscope of our country.”

Prof Ndebele said: “We have lost a great writer, a patriot and strong voice for equality and democracy in the world.”

Describing the late Gordimer’s life, the British Council wrote: “Nadine Gordimer’s subject matter in the past has been the effect of apartheid on the lives of South Africans and the moral and psychological tensions of life in a racially-divided country, which she often wrote about by focusing on oppressed non-white characters.”

The late Gordimer “was an ardent opponent of apartheid and refused to accommodate the system, despite growing up in a community in which it was accepted as normal. Her work has therefore served to chart, over a number of years, the changing response to apartheid in South Africa,” the British Council added.

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