Nadine Gordimer, who in 1991 became the first South African to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, died at her home in Johannesburg on Sunday, July 13. She was 90.
Gordimer, whose work centered on the impact of apartheid on the lives of all South Africans, supported the African National Congress (ANC) and became a card-carrying member of the group when it was un-banned in 1990.
Born in a small town east of Johannesburg on Nov. 20,1923, Gordimer was the daughter of a watchmaker from Riga, Latvia, and an English-born mother. Though she identified herself as “a Jew forever,” she had no religious background or belief. For her, being a Jew was like being black – “It’s something inside you, in your blood and in your bones” (Haaretz, Nov.r 14, 2005). She did not consider herself a Zionist and was often critical of the Jewish state, though she bristled at the description of Israel as practicing “apartheid.” In the early 1980s, she visited Israel and was impressed with what she saw, but felt no emotional connection.
She is survived by her daughter Oriane, from her marriage to Gerald Gavron, a dentist, and her son Hugo, from her marriage to Reinhold Cassirer, an art dealer who was a refugee from Nazi Germany.