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Book Title: July's People|
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Reader ratings: 4.7
The author of the book: Nadine Gordimer
Edition: Longman Publishing Group
Date of issue: December 1st 1991
ISBN 13: 9780582060111
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 12.65 MB
City - Country: No data
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Nadine Gordimer is an award winning South African author of multiple books, and has won the prestigious Booker Prize. In July's People, Gordimer writes of the 1980 race riots in Johannesburg that wrestled the city out of white control. As the violence begins to escalate and the city begins to crumble, families ponder their future. Gordimer writes of the Smales family and their house servant named July, who rescues them and offers them hope moving forward.
An upper class family, Bamford and Maureen Smales have traveled the world, staying in upper class hotels without thinking about money. Having much disposable income, the Smales often give away used household items to July, their trusted house employee for fifteen years. In a balance of power, July has none, relying on the Smales' for a pay check and his family's subsistence. As soon as Johannesburg falls prey to rioting, July offers to bring the Smales to safety in his village some 600 kilometers away. With many of their friends being killed or fleeing the country, the Smales entrust their survival to July, ensuring that they will be part of the new South Africa moving forward.
Upon their arrival in July's village, the balance of power shifts. Living in primitive huts, bathing in rivers, hunting daily for food, the Smales are immediately out of their comfort zone. July's wife and mother resent these people's presence, as they have taken up residence in a hut that once belonged to villagers. Not being part of July's life in the city, they question why he would bring white people to the bush rather than letting them stay with their own people, not realizing how dangerous it is to return to the city. Used to the comforts of home, the Smales find it difficult to get used to village life, especially as they stand out there. The children view the village as an adventure or as camping but the adults wonder what Johannesburg will be like when they return. Meanwhile, July desires that the Smales treat him with increased respect, especially in light of his bringing them to safety.
This is the first of Gordimer's books that I have read although I doubt it will be the last. Her language is soothing yet descriptive as she describes life in the African bush. She gives insight into the race rioting that inevitably lead to the crumbling of colonial South African rule. Prior to the riots, the best blacks could expect was to work in menial labor like July did. Following the rioting, they expected to be treated as equals to and given access to the same rights as whites. This event is high lighted in the shifting of power in the relationship between July and the Smales family, one that most likely was duplicated throughout South Africa.
I found July's People to be a fascinating book as my reading continues to take me all over the globe. I felt that Gordimer produced quality historical fiction as she touched on Stephen Biko landing in prison and the Smales wondering what life will be like after the riots. Race relations in South Africa continues to be a contested issue to this day as there are often reports of violence there. Another book that was not on my radar before this year, I found July's People to be evocative and rate it 3.8 solid stars.
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Read information about the authorNadine Gordimer was a South African writer, political activist and recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature. She was recognized as a woman "who through her magnificent epic writing has – in the words of Alfred Nobel – been of very great benefit to humanity".
Gordimer's writing dealt with moral and racial issues, particularly apartheid in South Africa. Under that regime, works such as Burger's Daughter and July's People were banned. She was active in the anti-apartheid movement, joining the African National Congress during the days when the organization was banned. She was also active in HIV/AIDS causes.
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