Telling Tales

Edited by Nadine Gordimer




Trade Paperback

320 Pages



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This anthology is a literary part of a worldwide effort to raise money for fighting HIV/AIDS.

Rarely have world writers of such variety and distinction appeared together in the same anthology. Their stories capture the range of emotions and situations of our human universe: tragedy, comedy, fantasy, satire, dramas of sexual love and of war in different continents and cultures. These tales are not about HIV/AIDS. But all twenty-one writers have given their stories—chosen by themselves as representing some of the best of their lifetime work as storytellers—without any fee or royalty.

Telling Tales is published in more than twelve countries. The publishers' profits from the sales of this book go to HIV/AIDS preventive education, and for medical treatment for people living with the suffering this pandemic infection brings to our contemporary world. This unique collection of renowned storytellers is much more than a gathering of great literature; it is a gift to combat the plague of our new millennium.


Praise for Telling Tales

"The 21 stellar writers in this international short-story collection include five Nobel winners. All the stories were chosen by the writers themselves and contributed without any fee, and all profits go to fight HIV-AIDS in southern Africa. The stories are not about AIDS, but several are about war and about dying. In Njabulo Ndbele's 'Death of a Son,' parents fight to get their child's body from the apartheid police. 'The Ultimate Safari,' by Gordimer, who edited the anthology, is a searing, unforgettable account of a desperate refugee child hiding from the fancy tourists in a famous game park. In contrast, Woody Allen has contributed his hilarious New Yorker piece lampooning the financier whose kid was turned down by a prestigious Manhattan preschool. There are also fine stories by Margaret Atwood, Hanef Kureishi, Arthur Miller, Salman Rushdie, and more."—Booklist

"A stellar roster, including five Nobelists—Gordimer, Grass, Oe, Marquez, and Saramago—offers 21 stories in a fundraising effort for HIV and AIDS in southern Africa. Chinua Achebe's 'Sugar Baby' is a razor-edged retrospective look at one man's inability to adjust to deprivation in the midst of protracted war. Margaret Atwood's stunning 'The Age of Lead' juxtaposes the narrator's watching news reports about a sailor frozen on an ill-fated Arctic expedition with memories of her lifelong friend, bonded since their teens by a desire for a 'life without consequences.' Now, Vincent is dead at 43 of 'a mutated virus that didn't even have a name yet'—the consequence of 'things you don't even know you've done.' In the powerful 'The Ultimate Safari,' Gordimer's narrator, a young girl in Mozambique whose mother has disappeared and whose father is in the war, flees with her grandparents. They walk for days through Kruger Park, 'a kind of whole country of animals—elephants, lions, jackals, hyenas, hippos, crocodiles'—to a refugee camp, where they live for more than two years, so long that the grandmother, whose husband disappeared on the trek, feels there is no home to return to. 'Bulldog,' Arthur Miller's straightforward Brooklyn coming-of-age story, revolves around a seductive woman selling puppies, while Njabule S. Ndebele's heartbreaking 'Death of a Son' chronicles the two weeks it takes for a young Johannesburg couple to get back their child's body, killed when soldiers and police patrolling the township began shooting. Saramago's 'The Centaur' is the beautifully wrought parable of the last Centaur to survive, wandering for centuries until there is no longer a wilderness to hide in. John Updike's ponderous 'The Journey to the Dead,' about a man's self-serving and increasingly awkward visits to a dying woman who was his ex-wife's best friend, is one of the few clinkers. By its nature more somber than not, a variety of voices with important stories."—Kirkus Reviews

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Nadine Gordimer (1923–2014), the recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize in Literature, was born in a small South African town. Her first book, a collection of stories, was published when she was in her early twenties. Her ten books of stories include Something Out There (1984), and Jump and Other Stories (1991). Her novels include The Lying Days (1953), A World of Strangers (1958), Occasion for Loving (1963), The Late Bourgeois World (1966), A Guest of Honour (1971), The Conservationist (1975), Burger’s Daughter (1979), July’s People (1981), A Sport of Nature (1987), My Son’s
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  • Edited by Nadine Gordimer

  • Nadine Gordimer, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991, is the author of fifteen novels, more than ten volumes of stories, and three nonfiction collections. She lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.
  • Nadine Gordimer Copyright Maureen Isaacson