The Pickup A Novel

Nadine Gordimer




Trade Paperback

288 Pages


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A New York Times Notable Book

Winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Africa
 “Ranks as one of Gordimer’s best novels . . . It transcends politics and aims at a meaning higher than human striving.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer When Julie Summers’s car breaks down on a street in Cape Town, a young Arab mechanic comes to her aid. Their attraction to each other is immediate. Julia, the daughter of a powerful businessman, is trying to escape a privileged background she despises. Abdu, an educated but poor illegal immigrant, is desperate to evade deportation. The consequences of this chance meeting are unpredictable and intense, as each person’s notions of the other are overturned.

Set in the social mix of post-apartheid South Africa and an unnamed Arab country, Nadine Gordimer’s The Pickup “is a masterpiece of creative empathy . . . a gripping tale of contemporary anguish and unexpected desire, and it also opens the Arab world to unusually nuanced perception”—Edward W. Said, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University


Praise for The Pickup

“Astonishing . . . It is hard to conceive of a more sympathetic, more intimate introduction to the lives of ordinary Muslims than we are given here.”—J. M. Coetzee, The New York Review of Books
“This is surely what art has at its highest octane done: attempts to push its way around the ineffable, to get inside others’ heads, to cross the many boundaries that so terminally and tragically divide us.”—The Washington Post Book World

“Gordimer plays the lovers off of one another expertly . . . She explores the problems of dispossession with characteristic subtlety.”—The New Yorker
“Ms. Gordimer’s ability to delineate the psychological consequences of exile, class, disaffection, and racial prejudice enables her to lend Julie and [Ibrahim’s] relationship an unusual poignancy and depth.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Brilliant . . . Gordimer’s stark sentences and emotional depth make most modern fiction seem trivial.”—The Times (London)

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Clustered predators round a kill. It's a small car with a young woman inside it. The battery has failed and taxis, cars, minibuses, vans, motorcycles butt and challenge one another, reproach and curse her, a traffic mob mounting its own confusion. Get going. Stupid bloody woman. Idikazana lomlungu, le! She throws up hands, palms open, in surrender. They continue to jostle and blare their impatience. She gets out of her car and faces them. One of the unemployed black men who beg by waving vehicles into parking bays sidles his way deftly through fenders, signals with his head--Oka-ay, Oka-ay go inside,
Read the full excerpt


  • Nadine Gordimer

  • Nadine Gordimer is the author of 12 previous novels as well as numerous collections of stories and essays, all published by FSG; her most recent work includes None to Accompany Me (1994) and The House Gun (1998), both novels, and Living in Hope and History (2000), a collection of her reminiscences. She has received many awards, including the Booker Prize (for The Conservationist, in 1974) and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991. She lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.
  • Nadine Gordimer Copyright Maureen Isaacson