A Beneficiary by Nadine Gordimer


Caches of old papers are like graves; you shouldn't open them.
- From A Beneficiary by Nadine Gordimer

I am a bit embarrassed that I have never read anything by Nadine Gordimer until now. This wonderful short story was published in the New Yorker earlier this year and I read it as part of the 21st Fiction Yahoo Group who are reading one on-line short story each month in addition to their regular schedule of novel reads.

The story opens by introducing the main character, Charlotte (aka Charlie) whose mother, an actress, has just died. While packing up her mother's belongings, Charlie stumbles upon an old letter which becomes the catalyst for the rest of the story. The ending is immensely satisfying with a bigger message about what it means to be a parent.

Gordimer is an artist with words, painting her characters so lifelike that the reader forgets they are reading fiction. I was completely entranced by this story which I read in less than an hour.

After reading this little gem, I am motivated to pick up other works of this South African Nobel Laureate (Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991). Gordimer has written 14 novels and 11 short story collections.

I rate this one a 5/5 and highly recommend it.

6 comments

aloi said...

thank you for the link! i've never read gordimer either (but will soon ... off to read now :))

Abhinav said...

Thanks for introducing me to such a wonderful author. Even I've never read her before.

Wendy said...

Glad to hear my review helped motivate you to read this author. I really liked her "style" and "voice" and will definitely be reading more of her work!!

gautami tripathy said...

I am working towards reading her! I got two of her books as gifts.

Baba Yaga said...

I don't mean to sound rude but I just couldn't digest Gordimer's "A Soldier's Embrace" and had to give up on her shortly. I was wanting to read the booker prize winning novel "The Conservationist" for a while but a friend was so put off by her writing that it seemed to be the Soldier's Embrace all over again. If South African writing interests you, two of the greatest novels about apartheid are 1)Disgrace-by Coetzee and 2)Cry-A Beloved Country by Alan Paton (not a Nobel Laureate).

Wendy said...

Baba Yaga: Not rude at all! The great thing about these groups is that everyone has a different opinion :) I've never read Gordimer's novels, so perhaps they aren't what her short stories are...anyway, Disgrace is on my TBR pile and I hope to get to it this month. I've heard a lot of wonderful things about it. I read Slow Man earlier this year and enjoy Coetzee's writing. I haven't yet Paton's book, but will add it to my Amazon list :) Thanks for the recommendations.




© Read the NobelsMaira Gall