Leaving the House of the White Race
Compared to the experimental and meta-fictional writing of her compatriots J. M. Coetzee and Ivan Vladislavic, Nadine Gordimer's novels may seem realist—more so than they actually are. There are several moments in Gordimer's work when she participates in a self-reflexive meditation on the meaning, form, and reception of fiction. One such moment occurs in the 1981 novel July's People, set in a fictional future of revolution and civil war. It is a scene of reading—a scene that tells us much about how we may read the concerns that engage and the conditions that mold Gordimer's writing. Maureen Smales, the novel's main character, who, only days before had been living the life of a comfortable Johannesburg suburbanite, is sitting outside a hut in the poor African village to which she and her family have hurriedly fled under the guidance of their previous servant, July.
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