Nadine Gordimer, Nobel Prize-Winning Novelist, Dead at 90

According to the BBC, the much-laureled writer Nadine Gordimer has died at her home in Johannesburg at the age of 90.

Gordimer was one of the leading chroniclers of life in apartheid South Africa in prize-winning books like The Conservationist (1971) and Burger's Daughter (1979). Her novels dealt with explicitly political themes, and she was also a fierce anti-apartheid activist in real life. Gordimer's books were often banned for years when they first appeared. She was awarded the Nobel in 1991.

Post-apartheid she continued to explore the conflicting claims of political activism and ordinary life in novels like The Pickup (2002).

In an interview with the Paris Review in the early 1980s, she talked about her view of her fellow South African whites:

Perhaps I know us too well through myself. But if somebody is partly frivolous or superficial, has moments of cruelty or self-doubt, I don't write them off, because I think that absolutely everybody has what are known as human failings. My black characters are not angels either. All this role-playing that is done in a society like ours—it's done in many societies, but it's more noticeable in ours—sometimes the role is forced upon you. You fall into it. It's a kind of song-and-dance routine, and you find yourself, and my characters find themselves, acting out these preconceived, ready-made roles. But, of course, there are a large number of white women of a certain kind in the kind of society that I come from who . . . well, the best one can say of them is that one can excuse them because of their ignorance of what they have allowed themselves to become.

[Photo via AP.]