Refuse to be Passive

July’s People

In Art, Life in General on February 2, 2010 at 10:43 pm

About three years ago I took a course in World Literature, also known as post-colonial literature. Although world literature is now the politically correct term.  One of the books we had on our reading list was July’s People by Nadine Gordimer. My prof. lamented that we simply had too many books to cover, and would have to skip this one. But she also highly recommended we read it, if only for our own edification. Thus, for three years, it has been sitting on my shelf, waiting for me to find the time to pick it up and read it. For the past week, I’ve been reading, and finally, I can say that I’ve read the book. There is a feeling of triumph, but also disappointment, as the ending left me hanging, which is a shame. But the description and character development was vivid and telling. It’s definitely not an escape read, although I knew that going in, as it was a Nobel Prize winner for Literature.

The book is of a family who flees their home due to riots in their city against whites. Their servant, who they call July, brings them from the city, to his small village, to hide out. It is a story of power, misunderstanding, understanding, past, and future. In reality, it’s hard to describe, as relatively little actually happens. But at the same time, I can’t regret reading the book. While the action is not there, the development of the characters goes deep. Their relationships with one another are complex and vexing at times. But the hanging ending seems to leave it up to the reader to believe what they will about the result of this time in exile. Frustrating? Yes. But at least it allows the reader hope.

I feel good for having read this book, even if I had a bit of a challenge getting through it. One more book to cross off my reading list. Hundreds to go.

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