I just heard the news this morning, on my way to the Farmer's Market. I just started reading her this year after hearing this interview on the BBC and reading several other articles related to the release of No Time Like the Present:
The topic of the interview is 'what happens after the revolution' and it seemed an appropriate topic for her work and the time of her life.
She says, "We have been free for only 18 years. Not even a generation," and says that even the free world still struggles with the problems that plague South Africa.
NPR broadcast a short tribute this morning, cherry-picking extensively from her 1991 Nobel Prize acceptance speech.
Nadine Gordimer won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991, and in her Nobel address she said human beings devised writing to explore why we are here,
"Since humans became self-regarding they have sought, as well, explanations for the common phenomena of procreation, death, the cycle of seasons, the earth, sea, wind and stars, sun and moon, plenty and disaster," said Gordimer. "The oral story-tellers," she said, "began to feel out and formulate these mysteries, using the elements of daily life ... to make stories."
"Writers themselves don't analyze what they do," she said, "to analyze would be to look down while crossing a canyon on a tightrope."
Gordimer noted that, "Some of us have seen our books lie for years unread in our own countries, banned, and we have gone on writing." But she cited Flaubert, Strindberg, Chinua Achebe and Salman Rushdie more than herself.
"There is a paradox," she added. "In retaining this integrity, the writer sometimes must risk both the state's indictment of treason, and the liberation forces' complaint of lack of blind commitment. The writer is of service to humankind only insofar as the writer uses the word even against his or her own loyalties."
To get the full impact of the speech, her fierce intelligence, complex style, and zealous devotion to the Word you should read it, in its original, here:
The writer is of service to humankind only insofar as the writer uses the word even against his or her own loyalties, trusts the state of being, as it is revealed, to hold somewhere in its complexity filaments of the cord of truth, able to be bound together, here and there, in art: trusts the state of being to yield somewhere fragmentary phrases of truth, which is the final word of words, never changed by our stumbling efforts to spell it out and write it down, never changed by lies, by semantic sophistry, by the dirtying of the word for the purposes of racism, sexism, prejudice, domination, the glorification of destruction, the curses and the praise-songs.