November 8, 2008

Nobel testimony to be heard in town

Kolkata, November 7 , 2008: Nadine Gordimer, South African writer, Nobel Laureate and one of the first people Nelson Mandela wanted to meet after he emerged from prison, will arrive in the city on November 10 to deliver a lecture. Gordimer, a strong voice against apartheid, has titled her talk “The Inward Testimony”, which she will deliver at Town Hall, at 6pm.

She is visiting the country on an invitation from the public diplomacy division of the ministry of external affairs. She arrives in Mumbai on November 7 and will be in Calcutta till November 13, when she leaves for New Delhi.

The 85-year-old writer of stories and novels, whose books were banned several times by the white South African government, will be given the honour of “state guest” in West Bengal, said Amit Dasgupta, the joint secretary of the public diplomacy division.

Gordimer’s lecture is part of the Nobel Laureate Lecture series organised by the division. Last year, American mathematician John Nash, on whose life the film A Beautiful Mind was made, had been invited for the lecture. But last year, Calcutta was given the miss, as Nash only visited New Delhi and Mumbai. This year, the ministry is making up for it and more, for Gordimer’s talk is reserved for the city, while in the other two, she will be reading from her books.

The writer, who won the Booker for her novel The Conservationist, wrote powerfully and movingly about the lives of ordinary people, many of them black, in the violence-ridden apartheid era, earning the wrath of the authorities repeatedly.

Her latest book of stories is Beethoven Was One-Sixteenth Black (2007). She has outlived that cause. But an activist forever, in a post-apartheid world, she works on AIDS and HIV prevention, a severe problem in South Africa. “Gordimer will interact with Calcuttans, including writers,” added Dasgupta. She will attend a dinner at Raj Bhavan. Dasgupta is also planning to take her to Victoria Memorial and St Paul’s Cathedral and city bookstores. But he complained that his early inquiries have revealed that not many city bookstores have any of her books.


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