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A Sport of Nature: A Novel
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"A moving, powerful book that, in a career rich with distinguished works, could well be considered her masterpiece." "Publishers Weekly" Hillela is Nadine Gordimer's "sport of nature": a spontaneous mutation, a new type of untainted person, she is seductive and intuitively gifted for life. "A Sport of Nature "is the bold, sweeping story of her rise from obscurity to an unpredictable kind of political power. Abandoned by her mother, Hillela is left to be raised by her two aunts in South Africa. At Olga's she might have acquired a taste for antiques and a style of dress to please a suitable husband. At Pauline's she might have developed a social conscience. But Hillela's betrayal of her position as a surrogate daughter so shocks both families that at seventeen she is cast adrift. Swiftly and perilously, her life opens out. She lives as a footloose girl among political exiles on a beach in East Africa, drifting between jobs and lovers, and finally becomes the wife of a black revolutionary. Personal tragedy is ultimately the catalyst for her political development, leading her into a heroic role in the overthrow of apartheid. This is the largest, most reverberant work of fiction we have had yet from one of the world's master novelists."
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Promotional Information

Author won Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991

About the Author

Nadine Gordimer is the author of eleven previous novels, as well as collections of stories and essays. She has received many awards, including the Booker Prize (for The Conservationist in 1974) and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991. She lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Reviews

Gordimer achieves a remarkable imaginative integration of private and public experience in this powerful novel, which traces the life of a beautiful South African woman from childhood to early middle age. Born to white privilege but abandoned by her mother, who bequeaths her a rich sexuality; reared by two aunts, who embody the opposing worlds of material comfort and social consciousness; on her own by 17, and soon immersed in the first of a series of relationships whose direction no one could have predictedalways Hillela is passionately grounded in her own feelings as she becomes increasingly involved in the black struggle, nationally and internationally. Yet she remains elusive, transcending simple definition even as her story, shaped by intense moral concerns, reaches a climax of stunning grandeur. A brilliant, engrossing noveland highly recommended. BOMC dual main selection.Elise Chase, Forbes Lib., Northampton, Mass.

This ninth novel (July's People, Burger's Daughter, The Conservationist, etc.) by Gordimer deals, as does most of her writing, with South Africa, her native land, with the emerging black leadership of surrounding states and with the ways in which human beings survive physically, emotionally and morally under, and struggle against, racism and injustice. Required reading for our era, it is a moving and powerful book that, in a career rich with distinguished works, could well be considered her masterpiece. The title comes from the translated Latin term for a plant or animal form that is unlike its parent stock, and applies equally to the protagonist, Hillela, a Jewish South African followed from adolescence into her 40s, and to South Africa itself. Abandoned early by her mother for a lover in Mozambique, Hillela lives for a time with her father in Rhodesia; is expelled from boarding school there and is shuttled between the households of two maternal aunts, until her burgeoning sexuality and an innocence of appropriate categories as to whom one may love, cast her out of the family circle. As she grows into womanhood, Hillela becomes an increasingly impressive personality, ever more closely linked to contemporary events. The strands that make up her life, as that life is reported, rumors and all, by an unnamed narrator, are woven into the larger tapestry that portrays South Africa over a span of more than a quarter of a century, from the late 1950s, when the government became increasingly oppressive, to the rise of black consciousness and militancy in succeeding decades and into the near future. Gordimer, who vividly conveys the impossibility of living decently under apartheid, clearly sympathizes with Sasha, Hillela's pro-revolutionary cousin, who writes, ``The mines and petrol bombs are planted by blacks, but it's the whites who have killed their own children.'' (April 27)

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