Nadine Gordimer, the first South African author to be awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature, has died aged 90.
And what 90 years they were. She was the author of 15 novels, as well as numerous short stories, and essay collections. Her writing garnered her many awards, including the Booker Prize for The Conservationist, and she was praised as a “guerrilla of the imagination” by the poet Seamus Heaney, and a “magnificent epic writer” by the Nobel Prize committee.
She was just as famous for her role as an anti-apartheid activist. She became involved in the ANC (African National Congress) when it was still a banned organisation and she edited Nelson Mandela’s famous I Am Prepared To Die speech, which he gave as a defendant during his 1964 trial. Indeed she was one of the first people Mandela asked to see when he was released from prison in 1990.
Gordimer was also a campaigner in the HIV/AIDS movement and strongly anti-censorship. But, to me, her true passion as a writer is encapsulated in this beautiful quote:
Nothing factual that I write or say will be as truthful as my fiction.