A sport of nature : a novel /
by Nadine Gordimer.
1st ed.
New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1987.
341 p. ; 24 cm.
More Details
New York : Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1987.
catalogue key
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Library Journal on 1987-04-15:
Gordimer achieves a remarkable imaginative integration of private and public experience in this powerful novel, which traces the life of a beautiful South African woman from childhood to early middle age. Born to white privilege but abandoned by her mother, who bequeaths her a rich sexuality; reared by two aunts, who embody the opposing worlds of material comfort and social consciousness; on her own by 17, and soon immersed in the first of a series of relationships whose direction no one could have predictedalways Hillela is passionately grounded in her own feelings as she becomes increasingly involved in the black struggle, nationally and internationally. Yet she remains elusive, transcending simple definition even as her story, shaped by intense moral concerns, reaches a climax of stunning grandeur. A brilliant, engrossing noveland highly recommended. BOMC dual main selection.Elise Chase, Forbes Lib., Northampton, Mass.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1987-03-06:
This ninth novel (July's People, Burger's Daughter, The Conservationist, etc.) by Gordimer deals, as does most of her writing, with South Africa, her native land, with the emerging black leadership of surrounding states and with the ways in which human beings survive physically, emotionally and morally under, and struggle against, racism and injustice. Required reading for our era, it is a moving and powerful book that, in a career rich with distinguished works, could well be considered her masterpiece. The title comes from the translated Latin term for a plant or animal form that is unlike its parent stock, and applies equally to the protagonist, Hillela, a Jewish South African followed from adolescence into her 40s, and to South Africa itself. Abandoned early by her mother for a lover in Mozambique, Hillela lives for a time with her father in Rhodesia; is expelled from boarding school there and is shuttled between the households of two maternal aunts, until her burgeoning sexuality and an innocence of appropriate categories as to whom one may love, cast her out of the family circle. As she grows into womanhood, Hillela becomes an increasingly impressive personality, ever more closely linked to contemporary events. The strands that make up her life, as that life is reported, rumors and all, by an unnamed narrator, are woven into the larger tapestry that portrays South Africa over a span of more than a quarter of a century, from the late 1950s, when the government became increasingly oppressive, to the rise of black consciousness and militancy in succeeding decades and into the near future. Gordimer, who vividly conveys the impossibility of living decently under apartheid, clearly sympathizes with Sasha, Hillela's pro-revolutionary cousin, who writes, ``The mines and petrol bombs are planted by blacks, but it's the whites who have killed their own children.'' (April 27)
Appeared in Choice on 1987-09:
A new novel by Nadine Gordimer, South Africa's leading novelist, is a world event. But A Sport of Nature may need some context. In one sense, because it returns to the big-screen sweep of previous novels, it makes the brief, close-in, apocalyptic fable of July's People (1981) seem a detour. In another sense, Sport grows as surely out of July as the last white hope rises from the ashes of the last white despair. For Gordimer, the personal has always been political, and the agony of Maureen Smales was the agony of the doomed white South African bourgeoisie at the dawn of revolution. But Gordimer's new heroine, mostly known as Hillela, is redeemed and redeeming, embodying a new kind of personality beyond class, beyond (or above?) gender politics, and beyond the racism of race. She is an amazing if not entirely credible creation, this ``sport of nature,'' and she brings home Gordimer's break with the traditions of fiction, even her own. No longer do we feel the familiar tension between the personal and political: the private, the personal, have virtually disappeared, and the future African, white or black, imagined here is both powerfully individuated and opaque. A work of strenuous utopian vision, this book will provoke and engage readers of every stripe in ``the rainbow family.'' For graduate, undergraduate, community college, and public libraries.-F. Alaya, Ramapo College of New Jersey
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Publishers Weekly, March 1987
Library Journal, April 1987
Choice, September 1987
Booklist, January 1988
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.

This information is provided by a service that aggregates data from review sources and other sources that are often consulted by libraries, and readers. The University does not edit this information and merely includes it as a convenience for users. It does not warrant that reviews are accurate. As with any review users should approach reviews critically and where deemed necessary should consult multiple review sources. Any concerns or questions about particular reviews should be directed to the reviewer and/or publisher.

  link to old catalogue

Report a problem