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My Son's Story
Nadine Gordimer
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My Son's Story

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  1,466 ratings  ·  111 reviews
Playing truant, Will slips off to a movie theatre near Johannesburg and is shocked to see his father there--with a woman he doesn't know. The father is a colored schoolteacher who has become a hero in the struggle against apartheid; his companion is a white activist fiercely dedicated to the cause. A bold, unnerving tour de force.--The New York Times Book Review.
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published December 1st 1991 by Turtleback Books (first published 1990)
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Average rating 3.62  · 
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Nidhi Singh
Dec 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 31, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Anusha Jayaram
May 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First off, I*need* to state this: I am so happy to have had the good fortune to pick up this book. For those of my friends who have heard of Blossoms bookshop, this is yet another reason why it’s just SO awesome! :)

Second, please do not read the section between the ***spoiler*** marks unless:
a) You’ve already read this book (or)
b) You’re not planning to read this book

Now, about the book itself, what struck me the most is the sheer *intelligence* of the writer. Nadine Gordimer knows how to manip
Full review at Smoke & Mirrors: Okay, finally done! I get it. I get the nuances, etc., of this narrative. However, Gordimer's writing style did not endear her to me as an author. However, with that said, I would like to read her Booker prize-winning novel, The Conservationist. This woman was awarded the Nobel in 1991. A white woman, she fought Apartheid, was raised and lived her life in South Africa, so I feel she is genuinely steeped in the culture and ...more
We are constantly under tension in this novel. Up close, the dislocation of the family, undermined by adultery, lies and concealment, the ambiguous relationship of a son and his father. And in the background, the History which advances with great strides towards the end of apartheid, the political engagements of which one does not discern any more the true motive and the hopes which already tarnish.
Nov 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, library
3.5 stars
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 a transition from the innocence of adol ...more
Feb 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Stephen Durrant
Oct 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
'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 lo
Apr 13, 2013 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...
I loved this. I read it about 10 years ago, though -- it's due a reread.
Barbara Sibbald
I knew almost nothing of this world of Apartheid in South African. Yes, I have glimpsed the poverty of the townships from the comfort of an air conditioned automobile, driven by a white privileged person. I knew Apartheid persists in many ways, but I knew nothing of the struggle to dismantle it. Certainly nothing of the personal cost to those involved in the movement. I found this richly informed and imaginative book enlightening, poignant and knowing. Truly a marvelous read about our human cond ...more
Sep 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It surprises me that I took two and a half months to finish this gem of a book! In my defence, when you are living a life marked by tumultuous events, reading a book reflecting the turmoil of a divided country, bringing to life the battles of a family within and outside is not recommended. Reading in snatches, re-reading paragraphs, reading with horror, agitated by the described agitation I finally finished my first Nadine Gordimer.

Nadine Gordimer paints a gory picture. Nay, she doesn't. She on
Jan 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I totally judged this book by its cover and picked it up because the cover (not the one in the thumbnail though) looked really interesting. While I liked the book, I still thought the cover was more interesting than the book.

I didn't really know anything about the apartheid, and although this book is fiction, it really sparked an interest in me. Reading more on it is on my to-do list.

I thought the book was really repetitive. It was the same thing, like seven times over.

Spoiler: cheat cheat chea
Jun 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I literally stumbled upon Nadine Gordimer and this beautifully written novel. I’d heard of Gordimer before, but never really picked up anything by her until I found My Son’s Story in my bookshelf. I don’t even remember when and how the book got there. But I’m so glad it did.

Her writing left me speechless. There is something about her prose that’s very different – tenses mixed up, punctuation placed in odd places. But I found beauty in this, perhaps a way to put into words her characters’ many f
May 04, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I just kind of hated it, really, which is why it took so long to get through.

Gordimer has created a story filled with unlikeable characters, who it’s impossible to care what becomes of them. Whilst I can draw parallels with some of the unsavoury characters in Disgrace by Coetzee, which made me angry, at least that book gripped me and drew me in, it did what it was meant to. With this, I was just bored.

Aside from the characters, Gordimer’s style of writing didn’t do it for me. Unnecessarily verb
Carmen Sterba
May 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After I wrote My Son's Story by Nadine Gordimer, I actually met her at Tsuda University in Tokyo in 1992 when she won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Below are the notes I wrote while listening to Gordimer's speech.

Nadine Gordimer: "All writers need to be a constant writer. There is no university degree needed. When I had stormy times in my personal life it was the writing that saved me. The urge to write has never changed. I have been writing for nine or ten years old. My writing was about my em
Edwin Martin
A little easier to follow than July's People, but still too much discussion of what seems to me to be "small nuts and bolts" discussion of boring details of the inner workings of a political revolution.

Also the lack of standard punctuation and especially quotes for dialogue makes for a slower slog.

No moral authority for a standard of what is right ; God has no place in these characters lives ; therefor a boring read overall for me. I continue because I have this 3 in 1 book written by a Nobel wi
Jerry Pogan
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another exceptional story by Nadine Gordimer. It is told through the eyes of Will the son of a man named Sonny who was released from prison after serving time for participating in the fight against Apartheid. Much of the story involves Sonny's love affair he had with a white social worker and the harm it did to the family. This ultimately led to Will's sister and mother becoming involved in the struggle against Apartheid. Gordimer writing is magnificent in her ability to tell a families traumati ...more
Oct 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Literary is the word that I would describe this with. I'm glad I approached it bit by bit, because reading it in a shorter burst, I'm not sure I would've liked it as much as I did. Better than July's People, that's certain. The language was beautiful, the techniques (figurative language, symbols, all that English class stuff) was stellar. Family tragedies are always great.
Jul 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The choice of punctuation hobbles what could be beautifully flowing. On every page, sometimes every line I wondered what fucking editor thought, yeah, that's 👌. "But the content, the content!" I know. Its strength makes the read-through that much more baffling.
Very interesting, almost 30 years since this was published and worth reading to remind yourself what life was like back then. Even though this is a novel, it offers an insight to the sometimes violent events & demonstrations, and the organised resistance that led to abolishing apartheid.
Rakesh Kumar
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe I had to read it for 10 days, it can't be binge read, it's too complex and narrative is confusing. It's beautiful and writing is as good as Aila's river of shining coils of hair. 4 star because I have to read it again to grasp fully.
Jul 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this many years ago. I've noted that it was well written, but I stopped reading half way through. I felt it was too introspective, but also wondered if it just threatened more sadness than I could handle.
Melanie Beadles
May 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honestly read this a few year's ago so I can't remember all the details, but I do remember it being REALLY well written and I remember learning a lot about the apartheid. I want to re-read. I also remember getting majorly stuck, but pushing through and it being worth it.
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, wow, wow. Everytime I read something by Gordimer, I remember what a great (not an overstatement) write she is - she understands humanity.
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written. I bogged down in the political discussions but then raced toward the conclusion.
Bohemian Bluestocking
By the way, I'm currently into Nadine Gordimer's My Son's Story. Gordimer is from South Africa and is the 1991 Nobel Literature Laureate.
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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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