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No Time Like the Present

3.18  ·  Rating details ·  402 Ratings  ·  113 Reviews
A sharply observed new novel about post-apartheid South Africa from the Nobel Prize winner

Nadine Gordimer is one of our most telling contemporary writers. With each new work, she attacks—with a clear-eyed fierceness, a lack of sentimentality, and a deep understanding of the darkest depths of the human soul—her eternal themes: the inextricable link between personal and comm
Hardcover, 423 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published October 30th 2010)
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Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, south-africa
A disappointing final novel from a Nobel-winner, which feels overlong and difficult to get through. The book follows an interracial couple in post-apartheid South Africa, but there is no driving narrative to pull you through the pages – just a kind of daily notation of ongoing events: strikes, corruption charges, elections, bourgeoisification, the quotidian frustrations of a newly-free society. It feels a bit like Nadine Gordimer just looked through the headlines every morning and jotted down an ...more
Carol Ryan
In the novel No Time Like The Present, Nadine Gordimer (Nobel Prize winner for Literature in 1991) sets up an interesting plot and brings to life a cast of engaging characters. The setting is contemporary South Africa. A young bi-racial couple who met during their common struggle against Apartheid now lives in post-Apartheid South Africa.
This book is chock full of fascinating details about South Africa. Zulu tribal life, Jewish and Christian white culture, and refugees from other parts of Afric
Jenny Yates
Sep 29, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn’t enjoy this book, which is a shame, because I’ve appreciated Nadine Gordimer’s writing in the past. But it looks to me like she dashed this off without benefit of an editor. The writing is annoying, a mixture of unnecessary repetitions and confusing omissions. In fact, my sense is that it was dictated and then never actually read on the page by anyone before being published.

It’s too bad, because there’s an interesting and worthwhile story buried underneath all this fussy, overdone and p
José Toledo
Sep 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the darkest days of apartheid, when all the men, the leaders, were imprisoned, out of sight, voiceless, three women beautiful, courageous, talented kept the attention of the world focused on the extreme injustice and violence of their country South Africa. Winnie Mandela, Miriam Makeba, Nadine Gordimer; the fist, the song, the pen. Time -because unblemished and living- has made the last the mightiest. At 88, Nadine Gordimer, the agitated bearer of her country's troubled soul, is still raging ...more
Oct 21, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I did not enjoy this book. I thought I would like this book. It was chosen by my book club so I had to finish it but it felt like hard work.

The story is an interesting one. A black woman and a white man marry secretly and live in South Africa under apartheid. They are active freedom fighters and rejoice when apartheid is abolished. The true story begins with their life in the new South Africa and all of the contradictions they must face being part of the new middle class. They chose to live in
Steven Langdon
Aug 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: super
You probably have to love political novels, and know (and care) a lot about South Africa, in order to enthuse fully about "No Time like the Present." But I plead guilty to both perspectives, and so this book reached me powerfully on an emotional and literary level -- not so much because of its detailed panorama of dramatic South African realities over more than two decades as because of the way Gordimer weaves a compelling personal saga through the years of this political history.

Jabulile Gumede
Amy Henry
Nov 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"No Time Like the Present" stunned me in ways that few contemporary books do. Written by Nobel Literature prize-winner Nadine Gordimer, it tells the story of a South African married couple (she, black; he, white) in the decades after they were comrades in the struggle against apartheid. Through their eyes, we see their hopes and disillusionments with the regime as it moves toward the election of a third president since Mandela took that office in the new "better life for all" era. Gordimer does ...more
Dec 22, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I just could not get into this book. The style is experimental and one where the experiment remains in the writer's head and does not explode on the page, like Gordimer's other novels do. I had to abandon ship after the first 60 pages, my new motto - given that there are so many books left to read in the world, why struggle through any? And dashes to denote dialogue does not work for me, espcially when a lot of the book is internally driven and other (non-dialogue) dashes get added to the fray.

Apr 07, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I'm abandoning this book on page 126. I admit a complete lack knowledge of post-apartheid South African politics. I don't know who Mbeki is, I've never heard of the Shaik brothers, nor any of the other politicians mentioned, so a lot of the specifics of the politics are lost on me. However, I think that even if I knew such things, the book would still be quite poor. I'd say the truly fundamental flaw is that it tries to cover too much time / subject matter too quickly and thus 1.) the reader nev ...more
Stephen Durrant
Nadine Gordimer is one of my favorite living writers, but this recent work did not hold my attention. "No Time Like the Present," as reviewers have emphasized, depicts the tensions, disappointments, and new racial politics of post-Apartheid South Africa. This Gordimer does well--she is a shrewd, intelligent observer--but her sociological and political commentary is suspended on what I thought was a fairly thin plot: an interracial couple of anti-Apartheid radicals attempts to come to terms with ...more
May 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: south-africa
an epic novel of modern south africa centering on a yuppy couple (woman=zulu/man=white[english also jewish]) their growing family, changing careers, politics, poverty, living conditions, gays, immigrating (the couple eventually does immigrate to austrailia) , education systems both succesful and failing ones, infidelities, and of course apratheids long lasting consequenses. if you only read one novel to get your history of south africa this would be a good one.
that all said, man o man is it hard
Linda Harkins
Apr 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No Time Like the Present is one of those rare books that you feel you should immediately read a second time as soon as you finish! Nadine Gordimer, 1991 winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, passionately presents her insights as an astute white female observer of her South African homeland. Speaking through her main characters, the mixed-race couple Steve and Jabu Reed, Gordimer vociferously attacks thorny issues most authors sidestep: apartheid, xenophobia, human rights, heritage, poverty, ...more
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
What a pity that her editors did not take a great big red pen to this book. The style is really convoluted so that it makes reading and comprehension a chore. The characterisation and plot do not engage either. So what we are left with is a State of the Nation post Apartheid which is not really enough for a novel. What a shame as I have always enjoyed Gordimer's books.
S Moss
Aug 01, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
History as Clichés and Confusion

Gordimer’s works are often consulted by readers who hope to gain insight into the culture, problems and future of South Africa, and perhaps her earlier works more clearly express these issues. Unfortunately, her final book, No Time Like the Present, starts with a cliché and never gets much deeper than an exploration of the various clichés that are used by South Africans to understand themselves and their country: Ubuntu--We Are One; Best for All; Umkhonto-Liberati
Lesley Moseley
Apr 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully insightful and VERY real..
Jun 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Steve und Jabulile sind ein junges Akademikerpaar aus Johannesburg. Als Sohn einer jüdischen Mutter und eines nichtreligiösen Vaters stellt Steve eine Art kulturellen Mischling dar. Jabus Vater dagegen ist als Schulrektor und Gemeindeältester einer Methodistengemeine in der Provinz Kwa Zulu fest in seiner Gemeinde verankert. Jabu ging mit 17 ans Lehrerseminar in Swaziland, die winzige Enklave grenzt an Kwa Zulu. Inzwischen hat sie zusätzlich ein Jurastudium abgeschlossen und ist Mutter einer kle ...more
Sep 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A novel of post-post-Apartheid South Africa, in the sense that Mandela’s presidency has passed and the setting illustrates the issues of tribalism, corrruption, and how to continue to work for the once-shared dream in the new reality. A suburban bohemian neighborhood of former freedom fighters who had suffered prison and other hardships of the struggle, both Black and white, which also includes the Dolphins (with the swimming pool used by all and a gathering place), a household of gay men (one o ...more
Jun 13, 2012 rated it liked it

I really like this author and feel I should have enjoyed this book more but it was a little boring and also hard to physically read. I felt very aware of reading each sentence, no flow. I was not invested emotionally in any of her characters and it felt surface glancing evidence by the fact I had to keep reminding myself who was who. It was long and I did not like the cover, but I was curious enough to see both her story develop and end to slog through. I did not expect the ending and appreciat
Päivi Brink
Aug 08, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english
I thought I would be super interested in a novel by Gordimer analyzing
today's South Africa, but I found the book quite hard to read. It was more like an essay than a novel and the characters did not feel like human beings. I think this novel is an interesting analysis of the political corruption and the disappointment of the freedom fighters, but it did not feel like fiction.

Suomeksi kirjoitin kirjasta Café Voltaire -blogiin:
Nov 06, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read this book because the story tells about people and situations, in a decade in recent South-African history that I want to know more about. I read the book from cover to cover because it really tells a good story. But the style was downright disappointing. As if it wasn't edited, sometimes just jotted down and never looked at again.
Andreas Steppan
Nadine Gordimers kluge politische und soziologische Analyse des heutigen Südafrika verdient allen Respekt und macht dieses Buch zu einer lohnenden Lektüre, die reichlich Erkenntnisgewinn verschafft. Herz und Seele kommen hier allerdings etwas zu kurz.
Meine ausführliche Rezension:
Dec 27, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be a real slog, and had I not been to South Africa twice, I'd not have stuck with it. Chosen for a book lecture that I attend, it was a book which was more politically driven than character driven. The "action" was the politics of the country; and while I enjoyed the lesson in South African politics, I would not recommend the book to a friend.
Dec 04, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
I like Nadine Gordimer, usually. Maybe it's just my current frame of mind, but I struggled through 60 pages of this and finally gave up. I felt like I kept waiting for whatever was going to "happen" to happen. Gordimer is never an easy read, but usually worth it. Maybe I will try this one again another time.
Apr 12, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought the characters and story were captivating, but felt the same as other reviews in that I could not get into the writing style. I appreciated it, but couldn't get lost in the story because of it.
Apr 07, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating current account of life and decisions in South Africa. Writing style was a little difficult for me but like many other books this rich (Wolf Hall come to mind), worth the effort.

So pleased "I met" Nadine Gordimer as well.
I started this book very attracted to the concept: The main characters are a multi-racial couple (he's white, she's black) who met as comrades in the struggle against apartheid, now adapting to the post-apartheid era. They have a child, move from the city to the suburbs, and take on professional jobs as a professor and lawyer. How do former revolutionaries adapt to a culture of advancement? Is there/should there be a continuing struggle? Contradictions between middle-class life and a history of ...more
Christalla Kyriacou
Jul 17, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ditched
Ditched. Because life's too short. Picked for #BookClub because we thought it'd be interesting to read something set in post-apartheid South Africa. Unfortunately, with no real plot to speak of, one's better off looking to the non-fiction genre to do this. Sadly, this was a chore to read. Improper sentences, unclear pronouns, limited use of punctuation - every other sentence had to be read two or three times to be able to follow!
Feb 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
History has to do with manifestations of human freedom in connection with the external world, with time, and with dependence upon causes.
- Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

Though the present remains
A dangerous place to live,
Cynicism would be a reckless luxury
-Keorapetse Kgositsile, Wounded Dreams

On Sunday someone shook at the wrought-iron gate for attention and there was one of the dolphin-men from the church pool holding a potted hibiscus. -- Hi, welcome to the residents’ association, there isn’t one
Phindi Maduna
Mar 11, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
This is a story about post Apartheid South Africa (1994 – 2009) which is told through the lives of an interracial couple who met during apartheid, fought against it and now live in the new South Africa. The novel, by Nobel – prize winner Nadine Gordimer, touches on issues such as race, religion, homosexuality, education, crime, immigration, xenophobia and politics. I thought it would be an interesting read to take on now, amidst the celebrations of South Africa's  20 years of freedom and democra ...more
Angelo Ricci
Alla ricerca da sempre di una sintesi tra accadimenti narrativi e struttura linguistica, tra storie private, che non possono mai sottrarsi al divenire degli eventi pubblici e politici, e lo sviluppo della nazione sudafricana, a sua volta sintesi ultima di contraddizioni, Nadine Gordimer giunge con Ora o mai più al punto più estremo e affascinante della sua narrazione.
Autrice in cui convivono simbioticamente la sua storia personale e la totalizzante e continua analisi del suo paese, analisi che c
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No Time Like the Present 1 5 Dec 29, 2013 07:20AM  
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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...
“You know history better than I do, you've been teaching all your life. Without real opposition you get dictators down the line. Idi, Amin, Mugabe. No democracy without opposition.” 1 likes
More quotes…