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My Son's Story

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  840 ratings  ·  64 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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(showing 1-30 of 1,652)
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Nidhi
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
...more
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
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Luís Blue B.
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
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Stephen
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.
Carrie
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
Marcy
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
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Eric
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.
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
...more
Jonathan
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...
Lizzie
I loved this. I read it about 10 years ago, though -- it's due a reread.
Simona
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
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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
...more
Garryvivianne
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
Tamara
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
...more
Molly
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
...more
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
Arwen56
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
...more
Tanya
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
Shelby
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
Jaime
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
Matt
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
...more
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
Linda
*(3) out of 5 Serious Book Club
Set in Apartied South Afrika it's about Will knowing of his African National Congress father's affair with a white ANC lawyer. I had no sympathy for Sonny (father) and there was not enough of Will who also could not move on ...... only the cheated on Mother and daughter are sympathetic characters, and I won't give away the end which gave it a 3 and not a 2.

This is an important book for anyone interested in South Africa and it's history and struggles but Sonny was s
...more
Scott Kleinpeter
I read this book the summer (or there abouts) after I read Achebe's Things Fall Apart. It was back when I had the stomach and the time to finish novels I would give up on today.

When I finished it, however, I thought it was an excellent and necessary compliment to Things. Essentially, it's a family's struggle embedded in a political struggle. I don't remember everything about it, but I do remember the father falling short of his son's ideal. The consequences of fame rather than the effects of imp
...more
Navaneeta
i was a little tired of all the characters in the book. The son seemed so obsessed with things, with such a notion of self importance. The mother, the father, Baby, Hannah--all of them seemed too intense, too involved. And then towards the end of book, with Hannah and Sonny under the orange blossoms, i realized it could not have been different. It had to be like this. 'Needing Hannah', you are no longer in control of things.

A well-crafted work bringing the personal and the political together in
...more
Jenna Mazur
It was okay but not at all riveting.
Ileana
Gordimer tells the story of the Apartheid from an interesting perspective and places the social and political atmosphere of Apartheid South Africa as the background for one family's struggle with love, parenting, and social justice. A little dense at times, I needed to read some paragraphs more than once, but the story is intense and has many levels.
Pravesh Bhardwaj
This rather economically written book tells a wonderful story but I guess it the way it is written puts me off. It must be just me as everyone sings high praise of Nadine Gordimer's style. Salman Rushdie holds her higher than Coetzee. It is the second book of hers that I have read and I guess her style is not for me.
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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'
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