My first experience with Nadine Gordimer was her Booker Prize-winning novel, The Conservationist. I found the book and Gordimer’s writing oddly fascinating, and in said my review, “despite my rather lukewarm reaction to this particular novel, I will definitely be reading more of her work.” This year I finally got around to it, first with None to Accompany Me (read my review), and more recently, Burger’s Daughter. And now I think I’ve had enough of Gordimer to last me a very long time.
Burger’s Daughter explores the idea of legacy through the character of Rosa Burger. After the death of her parents, both South African activists, Rosa tries to come to terms with what it means to be the daughter of such notable public figures. She is accustomed to dealing with the authorities, and with having to keep certain activities and relationships secret or risk arrest. She never knows whether people are interested in her for who she is, or for whose daughter she is.
That sounds kind of interesting, doesn’t it? Well it was, up to a point. But I missed the prerequisite course in South African politics and the issues of the day, and this time Gordimer’s writing completely failed to engage me. I read about 1/3 of this book but it was just too much of a struggle.