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My Son's Story

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  946 ratings  ·  71 reviews
Will, the narrator of this powerfully charged novel, discovers that his father, a political activist and local hero in their South African town, has become involved with a white woman. Wrenching, passionate, deeply resonant, My Son's Story evokes the inexorable yoking of the personal life and politics with uniquely moving force.
ebook, 278 pages
Published October 10th 1990 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1990)
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Nidhi Singh
Will, playing truant, bumps into his father with a white woman at a movie theater. A narrative unfolds of reflections enmeshed with aggressive personal bitterness and the political upheaval of the times in South Africa. Nadine Gordimer’s 'My Son’s Story' becomes the story of the son, the father, the mother, and the father’s woman: embedded in the interplay of race, gender, politics, family, love and commitment.

‘It was because of them whose pigments darkened the blood, procreated a murky dilution
Dana Susan
Another wonderful book by Gordimer, I thought this was a seamlessly written gem. Again Gordimer tells a riveting story, creates fully drawn characters, brilliantly uses interior monologue and descriptive writing, and at the same time inserts the insideousness of racism and the scars of apartheid between every line.
Readers feel what it was like for blacks living in racist South Africa, and also an insightful look at the evolution of a marriage, a love affair, a father-son relationship and a young
Luís Blue Yorkie
The transition in South Africa, a long segregationist regime of oppression to a multiracial democracy, there was surprisingly peaceful and negotiated manner. Thanks to the example of Nelson Mandela, who was released after 27 years in prison, and the moral conduct of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as a bulwark of a new form of justice, the country did not disintegrate in new power struggles.

Although negotiated, the transition did not result in a general amnesty that would lead to forgetting the past. T
My Son's Story is a tough read. The prose is gritty but it is not evocative naturally; it instead engages the reader to look for a connection. With each paragraph there is a feeling of discomfort. The effort that goes to create and depict a unity between aspirations (self) of equality (of freedom) and context (other) of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa is distinctive. The movement itself is not the highlight of the story. It is more a story of transition from the innocence of adolesce ...more
There is wisdom in this book, per usual for Gordimer. She understands family and revolution. But I tired of Will's ferocity towards his cheating father, and the father's fierce attachment to his lover. Maybe another time.
Stephen Durrant
A young, black South African, who is playing hookey at a local cinema, runs into his father, a former school teacher and now an anti-apartheid political activist, in the company of a blond woman who is obviously his lover. Thus begins a tale, told primarily by the son, of complex political and familial entanglements. Gordimer is an astute observer of the way lives, complicated enough already, become even more so in a treacherous and ever-shifting political landscape like that which existed in he ...more
Anusha Jayaram
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
My dear friend Carrie lent me this book, which made me both elated (I love getting book recommendations!) and nervous (what if I didn't like it). My fears were totally groundless though - the book is awesome. I had only heard of Gordimer in the context of a long New York Review of Books article about South African writers, which as is sometimes the case with the NYRB, made me feel like I knew everything about her, and didn't need to actually read her work. Big mistake! (And worse, probably means ...more
Sally Tarbox
'If he was responsible to the struggle, then the struggle was responsible for him', September 15, 2014

This review is from: My Son's Story: A Novel (Paperback)
The story revolves around a 'coloured' family living under apartheid. To begin with, an ideal nuclear family: father a teacher, a beautiful mother and two children. When the father accedes to his students' wishes that he accompany them on a protest march, he is sacked, and devotes himself full time to the cause. And on the way falls in lov
Mar 13, 2015 Tess marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommendation Hanneke - vak Literaire Werelden
I read that Nadine Gordimer had died, a Nobel Prize Winner in Literature. I had never read her books and knew I was amiss. My Son's Story, the first of many books by Nadine Gordimer I will read is brilliant. Her use of language is truly beautiful; I had to pause after reading paragraph after paragraph to think about what Nadine's beautiful language meant.

My Son's Story is a double story that connects with each other. It begins with a father, who lives in South Africa, a teacher turned into a po
In my writing class one of our assignments was to describe good writing. I believe in this book I can definitely say I found good writing, whatever it is. The text was sometimes difficult to grasp and required repeat readings but many passages were beautiful to read. The story, another one of the books I'm reading this year on the topic of Africa, concerns an South African teacher who became an activist in the anti-apartheid movement, and in the process, began an affair with a white woman. The n ...more
Dec 07, 2013 Jonathan is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Gotta pick back up my current Gordimer in honor of her BFF, Mandela...


The coloured epic we've all been waiting for...
Beklediğimin çok altında kaldı bu kitap aslında. Daha duygu yüklü, akışkan ve edebi bir anlatım düşlemiştim, olmadı. Ne aşk aşk gibiydi ne de olaylar bir konuyu anlatıyor gibi.. "aşk" ın nefsle bütünleştirilmesi beni hep itmiştir çünkü bunun aşk olduğunu düşünmüyorum kesinlikle.

"Oysa, sözcükler de birer taştır" "Erkeğe savaş-yiğit öyküler, kızlara romantik resimli öyküler"

Nadine Gordimer in bu kitapta kadın konusunu işlediği düşünülüyor ancak sadece erkeğin kadını nasıl gördüğü üzerine yazılmış
I loved this. I read it about 10 years ago, though -- it's due a reread.
Sinceramente leggere questo libro non era in programma, considerando che non è neanche nella mia wish list, ma penso che mi abbia chiamato e come tutte le cose inaspettate, è stato un bel dono leggerlo.
"Storia di mio figlio" è una storia di passioni, emozioni forti e di lotta politica. E' una storia di un uomo, Sonnny, un insegnante che si è sempre battuto per "quelli come lui", ovvero la popolazione nera,ma anche un ex detenuto imprigionato per "crimini politici" diviso dall'amore per due donn
Jean Grant
Jan 28, 2012 Jean Grant rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers good fiction
I read this book on a volunteer stay in South Africa. It gave me a much deeper understanding of issues and pain around apartheid. The characterization is subtle, the prose hefty and authoritative. What interested me especially was how the main characters--all "colored" (i.e. issue of slaves brought to Africa from the Far East long ago) viewed the "blacks." Here's a quote, long but good:

"The blacks appeared in the community hawking tomatoes and onions, putting up a fence, digging a trench, even h
Fred Daly
Published in 1990 in the waning days of apartheid, this novel is about a boy who discovers that his father, a prominent figure in the anti-apartheid movement, is carrying on an extramarital affair with a white woman. Gordimer explores the ways the political and the personal can collide, but the writing style (mainly her very eccentric punctuation) made reading this too much of a chore.
Story about a well to do family in South Africa. The father is a very respected, well known teacher. He usually stays out of all that is going on, but one day he decides to walk with his students to a happening - students against police. He says he can at least keep rocks out of their hands. One student however starts a fire & he is now always being watched in the way they watch political dissenters. He is fired from teaching job & becomes very political, an orator at meetings and a lead ...more
Nadine Gordimer always delights me--her writing is so beautiful and unique and evocative. The subject matter is heavy, and I know a lot less about politics in South Africa and Apartheid than I wish I did, so I've enjoyed gaining insight as I work my way through her books.

My Son's Story is a really interesting story about a boy coping with his activist father's affair with a white woman. The story shifts points of view and captures both the internal struggles of the family portrayed and the broad
The writing is crisp, coherent. Too often I find myself cringing inwardly at strange phrases, cliches, awful dialogue, but Gordimer has yet to do that for me. It seems sad to give such an off-hand compliment in this way; at the same time, I cannot say the writing was dazzling or gorgeous. Competent. Good.

For a story that is about political upheaval, it is remarkably quiet--it's less about public unrest and more about how that invades the private unrest of one family. We see the story through a s
Rick Edwards
My Son's Story is an extraordinary achievement, a tale of presumably a "Cape Colored" family in apartheid era South Africa. The husband/father, a school teacher, stumbles into the liberation movement, eventually doing jail time. That experience transforms the family relationships with a series of complications. Others also become involved, and--given the requirements of underground involvement--have secrets from each other. Ultimately, the movement advances, Sonny, the protagonist, enters realms ...more
Un buon romanzo davvero questa Storia di mio figlio, di Nadine Gordimer, da leggersi lentamente, soffermandosi sulle parole e sugli stati d’animo.

Sullo sfondo delle lotte contro l’apartheid, si sviluppa e dipana la storia di una famiglia al cui interno, poco a poco, i rapporti mutano, vengono inaspettatamente riconsiderati e prendono strade impreviste, cogliendo di sorpresa persino i suoi stessi membri.

Scritto con maestria, sebbene vada detto che alcuni passaggi non sono del tutto riusciti, lasc
I really enjoyed this. It was very dense, which sometimes made it hard to follow, but the density really allowed her to pack in ideas. Every sentence had layer upon layer of meaning to it. I almost hate to forward my interpretation, because I'm positive anyone could read it and come out with a different idea (I'm going to anyway though). I was really struck by the intersection of the personal and political in this book. How they interpret the politics of their day through the lens of their perso ...more
Sandy Gaines
It's been a while since I've read a Gordimer book, and I think this 1990 novel is one of her best. A wonderfully engaging, sad, funny, perceptive story of an African middle class family during the times of increasing African resistance to the apartheid regime, told alternately from the perspectives of father and son--but the mother and daughter are key figures, too. Along with the "political" story is a moving story of family relationships and growing up to understand the complexities of what at ...more
My Son's Story was all around a fun read. Nadine Gordimer being the amazing writer that she is really had me picturing the events that the characters were going through. I also loved how she related the whole book to the importance of family, but also tied in the apartheid. Nadine Gordimer can always make the hard times in South Africa really stand out, but also have real life problems involved. I could really picture the events that Will and Sonny both had to encounter. If anyone is trying to f ...more
My Son's Story is to Disgrace what Angela's Ashes is to Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha. Same-same but different.
The author assumed a level of familiarity with South African history and politics that I just didn't have, and she didn't explain anything well enough to inform or educate the reader. So without that context, this was basically a story about a father's infidelity and a family's way of coping with that amidst a backdrop of a revolutionary struggle. Unfortunately, none of the protagonists are very likeable or well-developed. I had higher expectations for a Nobel laureate. I also got really tired o ...more
Set in early '90's South Africa, the novel begins with the narrator finding out that his father, a black political activist, is having an affair with a white woman.

I had expected the story to deal more directly with the looming end of apartheid. Instead, the themes one would expect - race relations, violence, political change - seemed much more part of the "setting" than the story itself, which was more about family secrets, dichotomous relationships, and the like. So, not really the novel that
Anna Huynh
There was good writing, interesting story line amidst the historical racial struggle in South Africa, and topics that range from the parent-child relationship, the marital or extra marital relationship, and the relationship with oneself. I think I would have given it one more star or more stars if I felt more engaged with the main character, Will. Just felt like there was something lacking and can't really pin point what that is at this moment. I did enjoy the strength in character of the mother ...more
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Nadine Gordimer was a South African writer, political activist and recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature. She was recognized as a woman "who through her magnificent epic writing has – in the words of Alfred Nobel – been of very great benefit to humanity".

Gordimer's writing dealt with moral and racial issues, particularly apartheid in South Africa. Under that regime, works such as Burger'
More about Nadine Gordimer...

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