Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth Black by Nadine Gordimer
And Other Stories

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Synopsis

"You're not responsible for your ancestry, are you . . . But if that's so, why have marched under banned slogans, got yourself beaten up by the police, arrested a couple of times; plastered walls with subversive posters . . . The past is valid only in relation to whether the present recognizes it."



In this collection of new stories Nadine Gordimer crosses the frontiers of politics, memory, sexuality, and love with the fearless insight that is the hallmark of her writing. In the title story a middle-aged academic who had been an anti-apartheid activist embarks on an unadmitted pursuit of the possibilities for his own racial identity in his great-grandfather's fortune-hunting interlude of living rough on diamond diggings in South Africa, his young wife far away in London. "Dreaming of the Dead" conjures up a lunch in a New York Chinese restaurant where Susan Sontag and Edward Said return in surprising new avatars as guests in the dream of a loving friend. The historian in "History" is a parrot who confronts people with the scandalizing voice reproduction of quarrels and clandestine love-talk on which it has eavesdropped."Alternative Endings" considers the way writers make arbitrary choices in how to end stories--and offers three, each relating the same situation, but with a different resolution, arrived at by the three senses: sight, sound, and smell.


 

About Nadine Gordimer

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Nadine Gordimer, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991, is the author of fourteen novels, more than ten volumes of stories, and three nonfiction collections. She lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.
 
Published November 27, 2007 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 192 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Health, Fitness & Dieting. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth Black

Kirkus Reviews

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Gordimer surprises us with “Tape Measure,” in which a tapeworm narrator discusses with compressed allegorical ingenuity the strategies of surviving in an unfriendly host (country?), and the perfectly titled “Allesverloren,” about a widow who recaptures an ampler understanding of her late husband’...

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The New York Times

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It is, however, in her short stories, especially those that lack an overtly political theme, that Gordimer has brought the most intensity and imagination to the roles played by wives, husbands, parents, children and lovers, distilling them to an immediately recognizable essence of longing and hea...

Dec 16 2007 | Read Full Review of Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth B...

The Guardian

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Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth Black and Other Stories by Nadine Gordimer Buy it from the Guardian bookshop Search the Guardian bookshop Throughout her 50-year career,...

Dec 14 2008 | Read Full Review of Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth B...

Entertainment Weekly

B Originally posted Nov 23, 2007 Published in issue #966-967 Nov 30, 2007 Order article reprints

Nov 27 2007 | Read Full Review of Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth B...

The Bookbag

Summary: Full of wit and irony, politics and passion, the imaginative quality of Gordimer's writing never seems to slip, least of all in these disparate stories.

Oct 24 2009 | Read Full Review of Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth B...

Bookmarks Magazine

Martin Rubin Dallas Morning News 3.5 of 5 Stars "There are longer stories between these covers, but the short-short and decidedly more experimental stories, stories in which she puts little effort at the service of conventional artifice, remain the most interesting.

Jan 31 2008 | Read Full Review of Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth B...

Literary Review

Nadine Gordimer is one of the great figures of our time.

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Alibi

In one story, the pivot point comes when a woman leans into her lover at night and begins “scenting on him the smell of another woman.” Here, Gordimer seems to say, is the most primal relationship we have of all—ourselves with our bodies, our bodies with other bodies.

Dec 27 2007 | Read Full Review of Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth B...

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