Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Something Out There: Stories by Nadine Gordimer

The late author Nadine Gordimer was thorn in the side of the apartheid government of South Africa for decades. It banned three of her novels about the daily lives of people on both sides of the color bar from publication. Known and respected internationally, however, she was difficult to silence. The world read Gordimer, and she was award a Nobel Prize for Literature.

During the apartheid years, Gordimer produced a constant stream of short stories. Among the best was "Something Out There," a 1980s tale of a Johannesburg suburb living with the knowledge that a wild animal is stalking its pets and raiding its gardens at night. Is it a big cat or some sort of ape? A boy takes a picture of something in a tree that may be the long-toothed creature. everyone is nervous, including a cell of rebels planning an operation against the government. At 86 pages, the tension-filled "Something Out There" could almost be called a novella and may take a couple of sittings to read.

In contrast, most of the other stories in her collection Something Out There: Stories are short and quickly read. Not all are set in South Africa, but most are. Collectively, they paint a stark picture of the cities, townships, and outback of the country that was boycotted by so many individuals and other countries during the 1970s and 1980s. The stories give readers born in the 1980s and later a look at the world before the fall of the Berlin Wall, breakup of the Soviet Union, and release from prison of Nelson Mandela.

Gordimer, Nadine. Something Out There: Stories. Viking, 1984. 203p. ISBN 0670656607.

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