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July's People Paperback – July 29, 1982
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Not all whites in South Africa are outright racists. Some, like Bam and Maureen Smales in Nadine Gordimer's thrilling and powerful novel July's People, are sensitive to the plights of blacks during the apartheid state. So imagine their quandary when the blacks stage a full-scale revolution that sends the Smaleses scampering into isolation. The premise of the book is expertly crafted; it speaks much about the confusing state of affairs of South Africa and serves as the backbone for a terrific adventure. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“So flawlessly written that every one of its events seems chillingly, ominously possible.”—Anne Tyler, The New York Times Book Review
“Gordimer knows this complex emotional and political territory all too well and writes about it superbly.”—Newsweek
“Gordimer’s art has achieved and sustained a rare beauty. Her prose has a density and sparsity that one finds in the greatest writers.”—The New Leader
“Nadine Gordimer writes more knowingly about South Africa than anyone else.”—The New York Times
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The relationships between the adults are complex and infinitely interesting. I found the spare, dense text a challenge, but well worth the effort. Nadine Gordimer is a favorite author of mine and I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in South Africa and the inequality that was inherent in apartheid. This book will haunt me for a long time.
Told from the point of view of a white woman who, with her husband and three children, fled the city as it erupted in violence during an uprising of black Africans, the family is saved by her loyal native servant, July, who has served her family for the past 15 years. He brings her to his village in the countryside to protect them and the family now has to quickly adapt to the way of life for these natives. Clearly, this is a culture shock for them. Their world has now turned upside down.
When their car is now being driven by July and the their gun is taken away the power politics of everyone are laid bare. The old order is dying; a new one seems to be replacing it. The woman feels isolated, alone and trapped. Her husband feels emasculated. The book is rife with claustrophobic tension and it seems as if there will be no resolution.
The ending is open ended. The resolution is not clear. But the book sure shed a light on a little-known part of the world and life in South Africa. This was a very fine book. I am giving it a high rating. But that doesn't mean that I enjoyed reading it.
In retrospect, what Gordimer envisioned did not take place precisely as she envisoned it. But she was right about how power changed. The title is perfect, too. Are July's people the group he rejoins, or are they the white family he brings along?