20 November 2015
Nadine Gordimer was “a powerful voice for change in South African politics, (who) moved untold thousands with the pathos of her sparse, penetrating narratives”, Google wrote in its tribute to the writer on its corporate website. Gordimer is the focus of one of its popular doodles to mark her 92nd birthday on 20 November 2015.
Gordimer, who died in July 2014, was one of South Africa’s iconic anti-apartheid crusaders. She won the Booker Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature for her epic but thoughtful works that dealt with the moral and racial complexities of South Africa in the 20th century.
The doodle features Gordimer labouring in her study, where she typically worked from early morning into the late afternoon, as imagined by artist Lydia Nichols. In a style befitting Gordimer’s prose, Nichols exercised restraint by using only three colours, layered to create texture and subtle variation.
Gordimer, who attended just one year of university, was once asked how she had developed such a sophisticated command of the language in the absence of any formal training. “From reading,” she said. “And living, of course.”