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By Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada
As a child, Nadine Gordimer discovered literature in the library of Springs, a small mining town in what was then the Transvaal, where she was born to a family of Jewish immigrants. At 15 years old, she published her first narration, the beginning of a career that included 15 novels and 10 books of stories, and other texts, receiving the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991. In granting it the Nobel Committee recognized the “epic magnificence” of her work. Nobody knew as well as she did how to describe the reality of Apartheid and its human conflicts, but she did it in the true artistic style of one of the greatest writers of this epoch.
Hers was a work committed to the freedom of her people and solidarity. Her literary talent inspired the struggle against racism throughout the world. Three of her books and her anthology of South African black poets were prohibited by the Pretoria regime, which she courageously opposed as a lifelong member of the African National Congress (ANC), for which she worked actively, carrying out the most diverse, and many times risky, tasks in the clandestine resistance. She was one of the first persons whom Nelson Mandela asked to meet when he was released from his long imprisonment in 1990.
She was also a loyal friend of Cuba. She never stopped condemning the blockade and U.S. hostility but, above all, she maintained always a consistent, efficient and resolute struggle for the freedom of the Cuban Five antiterrorists.
She succeeded in getting the New York Times to publish a statement in 2007 denouncing the injustice committed against our brothers. In 2009 she signed with other Nobel recipients a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court, urging it to review the case. In 2010 she wrote a thorough, lucid and irrefutable argument about this case.
Each time that we conversed in Johannesburg or in Havana, or at distance, she only asked what more she could do for a cause she made her own and to which she dedicated all the love she was capable of giving.
It is difficult to say good-bye to someone whom the Irish poet Seamus Heaney called “guerrilla of the imagination.” Because Nadine will forever be the spring.