First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
In this brilliantly realized work Nadine Gordimer unfolds the story of a young woman’s evolving identity in the turbulent political environment that has culminated in present-day South Africa. Her father’s death in prison leaves Rosa Burger alone to explore the intricacies of what it actually means to be Burger’s daughter. Moving through an overwhelming flood of sensuously described memories that will not release her, she arrives at last at a fresh understanding of and commitment to her life. Nadine Gordimer’s subtle, fastidiously crafted prose sweeps this engrossing narrative to a triumphant conclusion.
How time flies fast! It is already March and we’re (thankfully) done with our February month end closing. So now I have more time to indulge in more books. But oops, the audit is still not done. Tsk. Nevertheless, I am taking the weekend off to rest and prepare for another (I surmise) challenging week ahead.
And that’s enough of a life update. Friday is the gateway to the weekends but it also means First Impression Friday updates. For this week’s post, I am featuring Nobel Laureate in Literature Nadine Gordimer’s Burger’s Daughter. It is a continuation of what I have designed to be an African literature reading month in March. I have just starting reading this book in the past three of four hours because I completed Chinua Achebe’s Anthills of the Savannah earlier today. This is also going to be my first novel by the South African novelist and I can’t wait to explore what her works have in store.
The opening pages of Burger’s Daughter reminded me of something that I have noted in most African novels I have read so far. The political undercurrents and the historical contexts are reminiscent of the same political stories I have encountered in the works of Egypt’s Naguib Mahfouz and Alaa Al Aswany, and, just recently, Nigeria’s Chinua Achebe. The political climate in Africa is certainly tumultuous. However, it is not only in African literature that politics is prevalent. I have read several in Latin American and Asian novels assimilating the same themes as well. I guess what many have observed is true: everything is political.
The novel begun in 1974 Johannesburg, South Africa. The first part of the story moved quickly as it related the fate of a white Afrikaner anti-apartheid activist. Lionel Burger has been sentenced to life imprisonment. However, three years in captivity, he passed away. This piqued my curiosity for it made me ask who is Lionel Burger and how is his life going to impact of his daughter, Rosa Burger. More importantly, how is Rosa’s life going to dictate the tempo of the story? I want to learn more about her and her father. Structure-wise, the narrative shifts from a first person perspective (Rosa’s) to an omniscient narrator. I look forward to how it will develop.
Of course I have heard of the iconic Nelson Mandela and the apartheid system but my knowledge of the country’s history is rather sketchy. In reading Burger’s Daughter, I am hoping to get a deeper and better grasp of South Africa’s contemporary history. How about you fellow reader, what book are you going to read this weekend? I hope it is a book that you’ve been looking forward to and I hope you enjoy it. Keep safe, and happy weekend!