None to Accompany Me: A Novel

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9781250007711: None to Accompany Me: A Novel
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In an extraordinary period immediately before the first non-racial election and the beginning of majority rule in South Africa, Vera Stark, the protagonist of Nadine Gordimer's passionate novel, weaves a ruthless interpretation of her own past into her participation into the present as a lawyer representing blacks in the struggle to reclaim the land. None to Accompany Me is arresting and reverbant - perhaps the most powerful novel to date by one of the world's most commanding writers.

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About the Author:

Nadine Gordimer (1923–2014), the recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature, was born in a small South African town. Her first book, a collection of stories, was published when she was in her early twenties. Her ten books of stories include Something Out There (1984), and Jump and Other Stories (1991). Her novels include The Lying Days (1953), A World of Strangers (1958), Occasion for Loving (1963), The Late Bourgeois World (1966), A Guest of Honour (1971), The Conservationist (1975), Burger's Daughter (1979), July's People (1981), A Sport of Nature (1987), My Son's Story (1990), None to Accompany Me (1994), The House Gun (1998), The Pickup (2001), Get a Life (2005), and No Time Like the Present (2012). A World of Strangers, The Late Bourgeois World, and Burger's Daughter were originally banned in South Africa. She published three books of literary and political essays: The Essential Gesture (1988); Writing and Being (1995), the Charles Eliot Norton Lectures she gave at Harvard in 1994; and Living in Hope and History (1999).

Ms. Gordimer was a vice president of PEN International and an executive member of the Congress of South African Writers. She was a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in Great Britain and an honorary member of both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She was also a Commandeur de'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France). She held fourteen honorary degrees from universities including Harvard, Yale, Smith College, the New School for Social Research, City College of New York, the University of Leuven in Belgium, Oxford University, and Cambridge University.

Ms. Gordimer won numerous literary awards, including the Booker Prize for The Conservationist, both internationally and in South Africa.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

BAGGAGEAnd who was that?There’s always someone nobody remembers. In the group photograph only those who have become prominent or infamous or whose faces may be traced back through experiences lived in common occupy that space and time, flattened glossily.Who could it have been? The dangling hands and the pair of feet neatly aligned for the camera, the half-smile of profile turned to the personage who was to become the centre of the preserved moment, the single image developed to a higher intensity; on the edge of this focus there’s an appendage, might as well trim it off because, in the recognition and specific memory the photograph arouses, the peripheral figure was never present.But if someone were to come along—wait!—and recognize the one whom nobody remembers, immediately another reading of the photograph would be developed. Something else, some other meaning would be there, the presence of what was taken on, along the way, then. Something secret, perhaps. Caught so insignificantly.Vera Stark, lawyer-trained and with the impulse to order that brings tidiness with ageing, came upon a photograph she had long thought thrown out with all she had discarded in fresh starts over the years. But it wasn’t any print she had overlooked. It was the photograph she had sent to her first husband in his officers’ quarters in Egypt during the war—their war, the definitive war, not those following it which spawn without the resolution of victory parades. He must have kept the photograph. Must have brought it back in his kit. It was a postcard—the postcard—she had sent when on a trip to the mountains; a photograph of the little group of friends who made up the holiday party. What she had written on the back (turning it over now, the lifting of a stone) was the usual telegraphic few lines scribbled while buying stamps—the weather perfect, she was climbing, walking miles a day, swimming in clear pools, the hotel was as he would remember it but rather run-down. Best wishes from this one and that—for those linking arms were their mutual friends, there was only one new face: a man on her left, a circle round his head. He was identified by name in a line squeezed vertically alongside her account of the weather.What was written on the back of the photograph was not her message. Her message was the inked ring round the face of the stranger: this is the image of the man who is my lover. I am in love with him, I’m sleeping with this man standing beside me; there, I’ve been open with you.Her husband had read only the text on the back. When he came home he did not understand it was not to be to her. She defended herself, amazed, again and again:—I showed you, I ringed his photograph next to me. I thought at least we knew each other well enough ... How could you not understand! You just refused to understand.—But yes, he must have brought it back in all innocence with his other souvenir knick-knacks, the evidence of his war, brought it back and here it was, somehow hadn’t been torn up or thrown away when they divided their possessions in the practical processes of parting in divorce. After forty-five years she was looking at the photograph again and seeing there in its existence, come back to her and lying on a shelf under some old record sleeves, that it was true: the existence of his innocence, for ever.
Vera and Bennet Stark gave a party on one of their wedding anniversaries, the year the prisons opened. It was a season for celebration; sports club delegations, mothers’ unions and herded schoolchildren stood around Nelson Mandela’s old Soweto cottage queueing to embrace him, while foreign diplomats presented themselves to be filmed clasping his hand. The Starks have been married so long they don’t usually make an occasion of the recurrent day, but sometimes it suggested an opportunity to repay invitations, discharge all we owe in one go, as Vera says, and on this year of all years it seemed a good excuse to go further than that: to let themselves and their friends indulge a little in the euphoria they knew couldn’t last, but that they were entitled to enjoy now when, after decades when they had worked towards it without success, change suddenly emerged, alive, from entombment. There were her Legal Foundation colleagues, of course; and white men and women who had been active in campaigns against detention without trial, forced removals of communities, franchise that excluded blacks; student leaders, ganged up under a tree in the garden drinking beer from cans, who had supported striking workers; a couple of black militant clergymen and an Afrikaner dominee excommunicated for his heresy in condemning segregation; a black doctor who hid and treated young militants injured in street battles with the police and army; black community leaders who had led boycotts; one or two of the white eternals from the street meetings of the old Communist Party, from the passive resistance campaigns of the Fifties and rallies of the Congress Alliance, the committees of any and every front organization during the period of bannings, who had survived many guises. And there were some missing. Those who were Underground were not convinced it was safe to come up, yet. Negotiations with the Government on indemnity for political activists were not decisive. One of their number made a surprise appearance—a late-night cabaret turn bursting into the company in a purple-and-yellow flowered shirt, gleeful under the peak of a black leather cap. There were wrestling embraces and shoulder-punching bonhomie from his brothers-in-arms Above Ground, and the hostess reacted as she used to when she didn’t know how to show her son how moved she was by the pleasure of having him home from boarding school—she brought her best offerings of food and drink.The occasion was already marked by the presence of that son—Ivan, on a visit from London, where he had made his way to become a successful banker. With his aura-he wore what Jermyn Street called leisure clothes, silky suede lumber jacket, Liberty cravat and tasselled loafers—he seemed an unacknowledged yet defensive embarrassment to his mother (his father never showed his feelings, anyway) in the illusion that he was one of the colleagues and comrades; that coming home meant the matter of taking a plane. If the party was supposed to be for him as well as to celebrate an enduring marriage (and who would remember, of that extraordinary era, what occasioned what) it became a clandestine welcome for one of his mother’s mysterious friends. Music began to shake the walls and billow out into the garden; political argument, drinking and dancing went on until three in the morning. Ivan danced wildly, laughing, with his mother; it was as if their resemblance to one another were a shared source between them. When the man who had come up from Underground was found to have gone as he had come, from where and to where, no one would ask, it was as if the music stopped abruptly. He left a strange hollow silence behind; the echo chamber of all those years, now closing, silence of prisons, of disappearance, of exile, and for some, death. Over? The guests driving away to sleep, the hosts collecting dirty glasses, could not answer themselves.
Vera opened the door to a ring at ten o’clock at night—no fear of muggings back in those days of the Forties. He stood, still in his uniform, come to see if he could find some keys missing in the possessions he had packed up and taken away to the hotel where he was living.—Can’t lock my suitcases, damn nuisance as everything’s still lying about stored here and there.—He didn’t have to apologize for turning up unannounced at that hour because, of course, he knew her habits, she stayed up late, sometimes even after he had gone to bed he used to wake from first sleep and feel her sole sliding down his naked leg.She kept him standing a few moments in the doorway as if he were a travelling salesman, and then stalked before him into their old living-room, now hers. He rummaged through the desk; she stood looking on. He might have been a plumber mending a pipe. She made a few offhand, low-voiced suggestions of where the keys might be. He had come prepared to meet, in the civilized way already established between the three of them, her lover with the thick smooth black hair like the coat of some animal, a panther, maybe, and the clear ridged outline of turned-down lips—how was it he hadn’t taken notice of these striking features in a photograph? Poor stupid trusting bastard that he was! But the lover wasn’t there, or he hadn’t come ‘home’ yet.—They just might be in the (he didn’t say ‘my’) old tallboy in the bedroom—I left some stuff I thought you might still want. D’you mind if I go in?—He turned to her politely.Suddenly she peaked the stiff fingers of her hands in a V over her mouth and couldn’t suppress snorts of laughter.He smiled, the smile broadening, sending ease between them like circles from the broken surface of water.They entered together. She behaved as if their bed weren’t there, walking past it as something she didn’t recognize, and pulling out drawers for him.—I haven’t got round to going through this—He held up papers.—Your old school reports, believe it or not. I thought you might want to keep them.——Good god, what for? I’m sure I would have thrown them in the bin, it must have been you who stuck them away.–She made a gesture of refusal, not interested.—Maybe I did rescue them from you some time. You still want to become a lawyer?—Her chin jerked vig...

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Book Description St Martin s Press, United States, 2012. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. In an extraordinary period immediately before the first non-racial election and the beginning of majority rule in South Africa, Vera Stark, the protagonist of Nadine Gordimer s passionate new novel, weaves a ruthless interpretation of her own past into her participation in the present as a lawyer representing blacks in the struggle to reclaim the land. The return of exiles is transforming the city, and through the lives of Didymus Maqoma, his wife Sibongile, and their lovely daughter who cannot even speak her parents African language, the reader experiences the strange passions, reversals, and dangers that accompany new-won access to power. All must change: Didymus, once a major actor in the resistance, making way for Sibongile s emergence as a political figure; Vera, working through the consequences of a lifetime s commitments to a new kind of relationship with a new man of the times, Zeph Rapulana. Seller Inventory # LIB9781250007711

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Book Description St Martin s Press, United States, 2012. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. In an extraordinary period immediately before the first non-racial election and the beginning of majority rule in South Africa, Vera Stark, the protagonist of Nadine Gordimer s passionate new novel, weaves a ruthless interpretation of her own past into her participation in the present as a lawyer representing blacks in the struggle to reclaim the land. The return of exiles is transforming the city, and through the lives of Didymus Maqoma, his wife Sibongile, and their lovely daughter who cannot even speak her parents African language, the reader experiences the strange passions, reversals, and dangers that accompany new-won access to power. All must change: Didymus, once a major actor in the resistance, making way for Sibongile s emergence as a political figure; Vera, working through the consequences of a lifetime s commitments to a new kind of relationship with a new man of the times, Zeph Rapulana. Seller Inventory # LIB9781250007711

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