N adine Gordimer is asked all these “silly” questions that journalists would typically never ask an author. Her answers are funny but revealing. It’s a UK Guardian interview done during the 2010 Hay Festival. Amazing!

 

Nadine Gordimer in 1961 and 1981

Nadine Gordimer

 

What is the most important lack in your life?

I’ve lived that life in Africa without learning an African language. Even in my closest friendships, literary and political activities with black fellow South Africans, they speak only English with me. If they’re conversing together in one of their mother tongues (and all speak at least three or four of each other’s), I don’t understand more than a few words that have passed into our common South African use of English. So I’m deaf to an essential part of the South African culture to which I’m committed and belong.

What’s the most blatant lie you’ve ever told?

Really can’t distinguish. Living through apartheid under Secret Police surveillance made those of us who opposed the regime actively, accomplished liars. You lied that you didn’t know the whereabouts of someone the police were looking to arrest, you lied about your encounters and movements; had to, in order to protect others and yourself.

What is the most demeaning thing said about you as a writer?

My eight-year-old son, when asked by a school friend what his mother’s job was, said: “She’s a typist.” True, I was in my study typing some fiction or other at the time; I overheard, through my window, his judgment in the garden.

You were awarded the Nobel prize in literature by the king of Sweden. Do you look back on that as the best moment in your life?

Best moment? Reinhold Cassirer and I had just married, and were at a party in London. He had gone to find a friend in an adjoining room. I found myself standing beside a woman I didn’t know, both of us amiably drinks in hand. He appeared in the doorway. She turned aside to me and exclaimed excitedly: “Who’s that divine man?” I said: “My husband.”

How do you react to a bad review of one of your books?

Ignore it if it’s by some hack, easily recognized by his/her poor understanding of what the book’s about. Pretend (to myself) to ignore it if its written by one whose judgment and critical ability I respect; and then take that judgment into account when, as my own sternest critic, I judge what I achieved or didn’t in that book.

While writing, do you take drugs, smoke marijuana or drink alcohol to beef up your creative imagination?

Only a double Scotch; hours after my writing day is over.

As a liberated woman, would you nevertheless prefer to have been born a man?

Both sexes experience the joys of love-making. If she chooses, woman has the additional extraordinary experience of growing a life inside herself, and presenting the world to it. It’s painful – all right. But the wider experience in life a writer has, the better the ability to identify with lives other than the writer’s own, and create varieties of character, states of being, other than his/her own. I sometimes think, for example, I’ve missed out on extending emotional experience by never having been sexually attracted to a woman. Anyway, a writer as such is a special kind of androgynous creature, all sexes and all ages when creating fictional characters, all the people he or she has known, observed or interacted with. So while I’m a woman, as a writer I’m a composite intelligence.

When are you going to write your autobiography?

Autobiography? Never. I am much too jealous of my privacy. Secretive, if you like. It’s all one has, in the end. Whereas anyone’s biographer has to make do with what’s somehow accessible, by hook or by crook.

 Read More UK Guardian

 

Tags: , ,

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

2 Responses to “Gordimer Is Asked Whether She Smokes Marijuana While Writing…And Other Weird Questions” Subscribe

  1. Theresa 2013/10/31 at 21:29 #

    I love writers
    crazy

    love God more.

  2. Tolulope Popoola 2013/11/01 at 08:40 #

    I like these interesting questions. Maybe interviewers should ask these type of weird ones more often 🙂

Leave a Reply

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Archives

Departure | Three Poems by Romeo Oriogun

14808778703_3587b5e3cc_o

i was born with a graveyard. – Safia Elhillo. Departure i do know about the hate that sinks a name […]

What It Means to Feel Adrift | By Arinze Ifeakandu | Memoir

FullSizeRender

1. Your friends are suddenly too far away, your family even farther. You feel a loneliness that gnaws, a disconnection […]

Dinaw Mengestu, Chinelo Okparanta and Yaa Gyasi Listed among Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists

InstaBox_2017428132951654

Granta has released its prestigious once-in-a-decade Best of Young American Novelists list and it includes Ethiopia’s Dinaw Mengestu, Nigeria’s Chinelo […]

Bessie Head’s Letters: the Pain, the Beauty, the Humor

head (1)

“Forgive the vanity, but few people equal my letter-writing ability!!” writes Bessie Head on March 14, 197o to her friend […]

Is Tram 83 Misogynist Poverty Porn? Petina Gappah, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Ainehi Edoro Deepen Conversation as Ikhide Ikheloa and Richard Oduku Publish New Essays

tram 83

Two days ago, we covered an important conversation that had started on Facebook in reaction to Ikhide Ikheloa’s essay in […]

A Letter of Secrets | By Nwanne Agwu | Fiction

11893775_10207320117223894_2273125653442773633_o

On the streets of Lagos, a boy searches for himself in mirrors. — Romeo Oriogun. Saturday, 01 April, 2017 Dear […]