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Nadine Gordimer, chronicler of South Africa, dies at 90

Nadine Gordimer, shown at the Göteborg Book Fair in 2010, was known for her criticism of apartheid South Africa. (Bengt Oberger/Wikimedia Commons)

Nadine Gordimer, shown at the Göteborg Book Fair in 2010, was known for her criticism of apartheid South Africa. (Bengt Oberger/Wikimedia Commons)

(JTA) — Nadine Gordimer, the Nobel Prize-winning South African chronicler of apartheid and its aftermath, has died.

Gordimer, 90, died Sunday at home in Johannesburg, a statement from her family said, according to the New York Times.

Born in 1923 to a watchmaker from Lithuania and an English-born mother, Gordimer, who was Jewish, led a cloistered life until she attended the University of Witwatersand. She began to publish stories and novels chronicling the grappling of her countrymen, black and white, with apartheid. Some of these works were banned.

It was only after the fall of apartheid in 1991 – the year she became a Nobel literature laureate — that she revealed her own membership in the African National Congress and her role in the anti-apartheid movement.

Gordimer nonetheless maintained a critical distance from the new South African authorities, lambasting them for their postures on censorship and their resistance to promoting known treatments for AIDS.

She was critical of Israel, but rejected comparison of its policies to apartheid, a factor that led to a bitter dispute with her biographer, Ronald Suresh Roberts.

She is survived by her daughter Oriane, from her marriage to Gerald Gavron, a dentist, and her son Hugo, from her marriage to Reinhold Cassirer, an art dealer who was a refugee from Nazi Germany.

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