July's People, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


For years, it has been what is called a 'deteriorating situation'.

Now all over South Africa the cities are battlegrounds.

The members of the Smales family - liberal whites - are rescued from the terror by their servant, July, who leads them to refuge in his native village.

What happens to the Smaleses and to July - the shifts in character and relationships - gives us an unforgettable look into the terrifying, tacit understandings and misunderstandings between blacks and whites.


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This book was so idiosyncratic yet so relevant to all of us - what is it that we value in our lives? Just exactly how important is the 'trivia' in our lives? What will you take when the time comes to flee your home? In common with the woman in this novel I too would probably take a book. Poor Maureen, she was frightened to make a start on hers as 'she did not want to begin it. What would happen when she had read it? There was no other.' Reading on a few lines we find she has indeed made a start but Gordimer allows her to express the very reason we sometimes read and yet for Maureen it was the grim truth. 'But the transport of a novel, the false awareness of being in another time, place and life that was the pleasure of reading. for her, was not possible. She was in another time. place and consciousness; it pressed in upon her as someone's breath fills a balloon shape. She was already not what she was. No fiction could compete with what she was finding what she did not know, could not have imagined or discovered through imagination. They had nothing.' So this book, written in 1981 set in South Africa is one in which apartheid and the revoltionary uprising of blacks is the backcloth for an adventure that has the white family and black servant role reversed - but in the hands of Nadine Gordimer it is so much more.

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