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Book Tag: My Son’s Story by Nadine Gordimer

There is no better reason to get out of a blog rut than a tag by a good friend. Thanks Chakli!

Here are the rules of the tag:

Get the book closest to you. Open the book to page 123.Count to line five. Write the next three lines. Tag five people and acknowledge the person who tagged you.

I have a pile of books next to me, from the weekend shopping spree. Books are marginally cheaper in Johannesburg and I don’t need a better excuse. I pick the one on top and here we go:

“Well I wouldn’t. The less each group knows of the activities of the other, the better. But you are perfectly aware of that – you are. Particularly in the matter of recruitment to proceed outside. The people I work with won’t deal with that. There are others. She must have been with them – perhaps all these years and we didn’t know it.

Reading three lines of a book can be frustrating. I can only guess it is about Apartheid. It is from the book My Son’s Story by Nadine Gordimer. Here is a synopsis of the book from Amazon:

Highly praised as a literate goad to South Africa’s conscience under apartheid, Gordimer here delivers her most perceptive and powerful novel in years. The story of a man’s evolution as a political activist and the toll it takes on his family and on him, it is also a picture of a marriage and of an extramarital affair, set against a backdrop of daily life in segregated South Africa, even as the winds of change begin to blow. An exemplary husband and father, a pillar of rectitude in the black community, Sonny is dismissed from his teaching job after he leads a political protest. Imprisoned, on his release he becomes a leader in the revolutionary underground; at the same time he is swept into an affair with a white woman, a worker in a human rights organization.

The intertwined events that lead to the breakup of Sonny’s family and the tragic end of his high hopes and ideals are partially narrated by his teenage son Will, bitter and cynical over his father’s marital betrayal. The novel is eloquent in its understated prose and anguished understanding of moral complexities in a land where blacks keep “rags . . . on their persons as protection against tear-gas as white people carry credit cards.” Tightly focused and controlled, expertly plotted, the narrative is replete with ironies; the tension increases almost invisibly, until the unexpected, jolting denouement. In the end, Will resolves to record “what it really was like to live a life determined by the struggle to be free.” Which is exactly what this book does, honestly and memorably

And now it’s my turn to tag!

Picture: Pillars of the South African constitution from the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg

Posted in Books on June 10, 2008

7 Responses

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  1. Hyde says

    The nearest “book” is a confidential and technical document which I dare not use for this tag. So you have to wait till I get home… and use in a story maybe.

  2. Abi says


    I hope it’s okay to not pass the tag on …

  3. Chakli says

    tags are fun, aren’t they?

  4. Hyde says

    My response is here-

    Have fun!

  5. 30in2005 says

    YAY! You are back! For good?

  6. Riot says

    A little late getting here

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Nanopolitan » Blog Archive » Book tag: Page 123 linked to this post on August 13, 2008

    […] been tagged by Surya, and the rules are: Get the book closest to you. Open the book to page 123.Count to line five. […]

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