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The Pickup

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  3,167 ratings  ·  409 reviews
Stunning novel set in South Africa about forbidden love by the Nobel Prize-winning writer
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 2002 by Bloomsbury (first published September 24th 2002)
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Evelyn I'm reading the book now and found a reference to the "tomb of Sidi Yusuf" (p. 125 of the Penguin paperback edition). Looked it up and it is in Morocc…moreI'm reading the book now and found a reference to the "tomb of Sidi Yusuf" (p. 125 of the Penguin paperback edition). Looked it up and it is in Morocco, outside of Marrakesh. (less)
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Average rating 3.56  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,167 ratings  ·  409 reviews


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emma
please......for the love of all that is good and holy....stop making me read books for school

especially when I don't have time to read non-school books. it's just upsetting.

I don't normally find certain writing styles hard to read, at least not to an extent that it's off-putting, but this...hoo boy. this one was a toughie.

also there was a weird treatment of whiteness in this. like, recognition that imperialism is bad, but also a concept that a wealthy white woman is able to step away from her p
...more
Jasmine
Jan 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
It took me some time to really appreciate Nadine Gordimer’s writing style. Once the reader gets used to the uniqueness of her style they are captured in her prose and an understanding between reader and author slowly develops. Gordimer’s style has sometimes the quality of Hemingway’s minimalism and at the same time there are poetic patterns which reminded me of Fitzgerald’s lyricism. Nevertheless, I don’t think everybody would appreciate her style as the reader must get engaged with the rhythm a ...more
Zanna
Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

New millennium, new rhythm. I think that's what's going on here. South Africans walking to the beat of hyphenated identities, flow and stutter, bounce and glide, at the mercy of beauty and ruthlessness… Gordimer's ear to the ground heard this as it heard the sweet cadences of Ibrahim's unaccustomed English and the mashed jerkiness of Julie's cosmopolitan consciousness. The style! Attractively typeset to soften the mess all these pauses and interjections make of the page, it rushes, it b
...more
Laura
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I wouldn't say I enjoyed reading this book, however, I had to finish it. I was piqued to see how it would pan out, and the second half - is a lot easier to read -this probably is where the writer's main interest lay.

Most people are going to struggle with the style - and I can see a fair number of bad reviews - 'didn't understand, difficult to get into' - there are several stylistic elements that account for this:

1 - complex sentences:

"Julie took careful note, in full attention, of all advice ab
...more
Allie
Dec 16, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Snooty book critics
Shelves: did-not-finish
Hated it. In fact, it gave me a headache. I guess I'm not in the "Oh, we can't figure out who's saying what! How clever!" camp.
Tamara Agha-Jaffar
How do you define home? Is it where you were born? What about family? Is it the people who raised you? These are some of the issues Nadine Gordimer explores in her novel, The Pickup.

Meet Julie Summers. Born into an affluent white South African family, she is the poor little rich girl skirting through life, working at an unfulfilling job, spouting pretentious jargon with liberal friends. Ashamed of her wealthy father and her social butterfly of a step-mother, she rebels against everything they re
...more
Neal Adolph
As I become a more and more weathered reader, and I realize that word suggests that I am eroded and scorned and maybe even a little grey less attractive after sun and heat and wind and rain and snow and ice but that is not my intention at all, I use the work "unrivalled" less and less to describe the writers that I admire. I'm less concerned about using that word to describe Nadine Gordimer. She has the prizes and awards to suggest she is unrivalled, or, at least, her rivals are limited to those ...more
Sara-Maria Sorentino
Second novel read by Gordimer. This was utterly engrossing, I really submitted to being lost. Her sensitivities to the complexities of all movements, expectations and responses blows me away--really her generous vision choked me up more than the plot oranything. I liked to look at the picture of Gordimers sparkling eyes and slight smile on the jacket cover whenever I read a passage (and there were many) that expressed normally well rehearsed concepts like east/west, love, desire, identity, displ ...more
Sarah
Jul 04, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I’m completely at a loss as to why this book is getting such acclaim. It’s not the worst book I’ve read, but it is a far, far cry from anything I would call great. I felt less like this was an insight into a love story about a couple crossing socio-economic boundaries and more like I was reading a story about two people infatuated with the idea of one another but not so much that they are unwilling to use one another for their own agenda. I found the tone of the writing highly aggravating. Sorry ...more
Robert
Feb 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not infrequently I think of the job of writing fiction as picking at things that make us uncomfortable. This means novels, in particular, have changed a good bit in their function over the centuries. Once upon a time novels confirmed the social order--think of Jane Austen. Now we have writers like Nadine Gordimer who was born into the white discomfort of black South Africa, and she manages to write plausible, discomfiting stories that make us dissatisfied, appalled, sympathetic, and even, occas ...more
Jaime
Truth be told, I really didn’t like this story. On a couple of levels.

First, the plot. I found Julie to be utterly insufferable. Every decision she makes is not real, it’s just another way for her to do exactly what everyone else doesn’t want her to do. At nearly 30, she’s way too old for the teenage rebellion. She and her "friends" at the cafe live their entire lives trying to meet some sort of moral code that they think makes them superior to everyone else while they are completely unappreciat
...more
Quo
Oct 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those interested in cross-cultural studies, South African fiction
Obviously, Nadine Gordimer is an author of the first rank, distinguished by multiple awards, a Nobel Prize for Literature among them. However, The Pickup can not be judged to be among her finest works. Even beyond that, there are many areas that seem deeply in need of editorial guidance to allow this book to stand as a truly convincing story of a woman named Julie, the aimless 30 year old daughter of a wealthy, well-connected, post-Apartheid South African lawyer, someone who befriends (picks up) ...more
Bettie
Description: When Julie Summers's car breaks down on a sleazy street in a South African city, a young Arab mechanic named Abdu comes to her aid. Their attraction to one another is fueled by different motives. Julie is in rebellion against her wealthy background and her father; Abdu, an illegal immigrant, is desperate to avoid deportation to his impoverished country. In the course of their relationship, there are unpredictable consequences, and overwhelming emotions will overturn each one's notio ...more
Zoom
Apr 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A fellow book-lover at work gave me this one as a “blind date with a book.” I’d never read any of Gordimer’s work before, and I’m happy for the introduction.

I found her voice took a little getting used to, but once I got used to it I liked it very much. She captures the essence of conversation and thought and action, often without including details like who said what. She’s got her own rhythm - at times staccato - almost like point form - at other times like capturing butterflies in a net. You j
...more
Imad Khan
Aug 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This was probably the first romance novel I read in a long while. Picked the book up out of interest because I wanted to read the perspective of Muslims from a white female narrative. It really was worth the read. The story itself wasn't rich, but the details and the storytelling was definitely gripping.
Mari Biella
Immigration and the nature of privilege are two very hot topics these days (especially to the masochistic readers of certain newspapers). So it was back in 2001, when Nadine Gordimer published The Pickup. The story is actually rather simple, in essence: Julie, a South African woman of achingly liberal views and a wealthy background, pursues a relationship with Abdu, an illegal immigrant, which eventually leads to them returning together to his home village. Can love overcome social and cultural ...more
Arnie Kahn
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the 3rd book that I've read by Gordimer and I love all 3 of them. I can understand the negative reviews: Gordimer often writes dense, complicated sentences; and nothing "big" ever happens, no murder, no mystery, no physical violence. All three, this book, A Sport of Nature, and July's People, are about immigration and displacement, leaving one's home and finding a new home. The Pickup is a love story and the lovers' search for a home, a place of comfort: having lived in a big city with m ...more
Rania yousife


I did not like the structure of the novel. I couldn't get who was talking half of the time.
Half of the time I was confused wither some of the sentences were dialogues or it was descriptive. It was so bad a terrible, I would have never pick it up if it was not for a course I am taking for the university.

I did not like Abdu.
Julie was a pathetic woman, until the last pages. (good for you girl)
I did not like how the females , Abdu's sisters are portrayed. It was so "oppressed-looked" I don't know
...more
Marlena
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I won't get much into the story as I am racing today--after lying in my bed for the past two hours compelled to finish this great work. I'd read several of Nadine Gordimer's books long ago and thought she was a writer of the distant past. Well, no. I was wrong. She is one of the greats for all time. Such a refreshing change for me from current novels. The story is compelling, a young South African woman, white, falls for an impoverished illegal immigrant Abdu and we want to find out what happens ...more
Bree
Jul 24, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ugh. I hate this book. I want to cry everytime I pick it up ): I hate Gordimer's writing style, I can't understand what she's trying to say, or even trying to describe. And it pains me that i have to study it as a postcolonial text for school.
If you love this book and want to send me a detailed analysis of: "In what ways does this text reflect upon and make sense of the time and/or place in which it was composed?" - including the relationship between the chosen text and postcolonial theory and
...more
Sarah Essbai
Dec 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A slow narrative essay, with an omniscient narrator,the one typical to Nadine Gordimer.
The tale is a love story in post-apartheid south Africa, where racism is officially over but where new social norms based on wealth and power are creating new boundaries. Nadine Gordimer hints subtly to these issues without making them central to her story line. The issue is in fact about the protagonist's "pickup" or "lover", then later "husband"; an illegal immigrant and a new form of racism. Quite interesti
...more
Alana
Apr 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A haunting and beautifully written book ostensibly about a white African woman of some standing picks up a dark-skinned illegal immigrant (his nationality is not specified other than he comes from "the dessert") and they become lovers. What sets this book apart from typical love stories is that the focus is on the external factors that shape love. In a traditional set up, first in her country, than in his, we see how differences in culture, family-ties, needs, and expectations are as much a part ...more
Judy
Jan 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
very well written love story. i like that it is written from the third person, with little conversation. the forbidden becomes accepted in the most unlikely of places and then the final choice of separation by Julie, both confuses and intrigues. her way of showing love to him is unique and lasting. loved it!
Julia
May 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Beautifully written book about a cross-cultural relationship in contemporary Africa. Human mobility is a funny thing, and the way people experience it varies so greatly...from "expats" to "aliens" to "travelers" and "seekers" and everything in between. Great and very insightful book about relationships, migration, and social class.
Mark Gonzalez
Sep 04, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-fiction
If it’s possible to make one perpetually long short-story, I feel The Pickup is one. And by short story, I mean the characters are so under-developed, you could have recreated the same romance, with the same pair (Julie and Abdu) at about half the length.

*Side note: I was actually quite intrigued with her writing style in the first chapter, but she decided to change voice immediately.*

Nadine Gordimer may have been quite the writer during the apartheid. But post-apartheid, it seems like she did
...more
Billy Jepma
Nadine Gordimer crafts a story that defies easy interpretation. It is a brutal dismantling of gender and cultural norms, and the––often subconscious but no-less harmful––naivety, personal privileges, and baggage we carry into our relationships. It is also a tragic love-story of two people who love everything the other hates about themselves. And still, "The Pickup" can be seen as neither of those things but something else entirely, simply because Gordimer's narrative is so compelling and unique ...more
Nancy
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two young people meet by happenstance in Johannesburg, South Africa, each finding something perhaps useful in the other. She is rebelling against her parents' life of privilege and wealth, trying to live a different life, although she doesn't know what it is she wants. He is desperately trying to find a way to keep from being deported to his third-world country of origin, where his family lives a traditional Islamic life with few choices and resources. The worst happens, he is deported, and she ...more
Kathleen
"And again: America, America. The great and terrible USA. Australia, New Zealand--that would have been something better? Anywhere would be, America. The harshest country in the world. The highest buildings to reach up to in corporate positions (there he is, one of the poor devils, the beloved one, climbing a home-made rope ladder up forty storeys); and to jump off from head-first. That's where the world is. He thinks I don't know; he doesn't know."
Dana
Apr 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually liked this book and i would've given it 4 stars up until the ending. I want to know what happened to Julie and Ibrahim?!?! Really, Nadine, really?? 🤔😠
Steven
Jan 08, 2020 rated it did not like it
I don't know how the author managed to win a Nobel prize, but as it was awarded prior to the publication of this novel, I see only two options: either she's a terrible of a writer, and the prize was awarded for non-literary reasons, OR she just put in negligible effort and others (editor, publisher, reviewers) didn't care because of her fame.

The entire novel is almost entirely *telling* rather than showing. The characters, when they're named, are hardly even described (physically or otherwise),
...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

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