In South Africa, the black South Africans have risen up against the whites, and the country is in chaos. July, the servant of Bamford and Maureen Smales, secrets them out of the city and transport them to his village, in order to save their lives and the lives of their three children. Nadine Gordimer's novel was written before the end of apartheid in South Africa and is a fictional account of the beginnings of a civil war where the black South Africans have thrown the country into chaos as they attempt to abolish the apartheid system.
Honestly, I decided to read this book because it was on my Guardian's 1000 best novel list. In spite of having a few South African friends, I have only very cursory knowledge of South Africa or apartheid. I was hoping to acquire a basic understanding of the country and its struggles in reading this book, but unfortunately no larger pictures of life or the people were revealed. The narrative was somewhat choppy and disjointed, requiring effort to follow Gordimer's train of thought, but also to follow in detail the action in the story.
I honestly I can't say that I enjoyed this read. It was interesting in the way it is interesting to examine a dead insect, but nothing in it really spoke to my sympathies. There was nothing beautiful in the writing that communicated the beauty of the country or the peoples, and no goodness shone through in the hearts of any of the characters. I do realize that the dire situation in the country at this time may not have encouraged such writing, but people need hope in those times, and perhaps art that exemplifies that type of hope is never more necessary.