November 04, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

None to Accompany Me

Current Status
In Season
Nadine Gordimer
We gave it an A-

When F.W. De Klerk set in motion the events that would culminate in the abolition of apartheid in South Africa and the election of Nelson Mandela as president, he also set off a chain of events that would liberate South Africa’s writers to tell stories about people, not political positions. At the heart of Gordimer’s 11th novel are several vivid people: Vera Stark, the white lawyer who works at a foundation helping blacks; her husband, Bennet; their friends Sally and Didy, black activists returned from years in exile to assume their rightful roles in the creation of the new state; and the assorted children, coworkers, and friends, black and white, who float in and out of their lives. It is not that politics are absent from this novel, but rather that they are only background; the point is no longer the dramatization of an agenda but the dramatization of a woman’s struggle to understand the progression of her life. The result is one of the most personal and eloquent of Nadine Gordimer’s works. A-

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