During her long life the South African writer Nadine Gordimer has written many books, never shying away from her contemporary history in her divided country. She touched upon many relevant issues, and at the same time she never lost sight of ordinary people. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for her writing.
This book ‘The House Gun’ during the early post-apartheid days, these days are present on many pages, but Gordimer focusses on a few ordinary people and she shows how these people react to each other, across bars that were upheld and that were difficult to put aside. Most of all it is a book about human tragedy and human loss.
Let us meet some people. Harald Lindgard (50 years) is a senior executive in an insurance company and he is married to Claudia (47 years) who is a medical doctor. They have one child, their son Duncan, who is an architect and who has an on and off relationship with Natalie James. Harald and Claudia live in a gated community where they enjoy the benefits of life. Duncan and Natalie live in a small garden house, while their friends live in the main house. One evening a visitor, Julian Verster, asks the Lindgards permission to speak to them. he tells them of a disastrous development. Duncan has been arrested on suspicion of murder. Carl Jespersen, one of the men in the house has been found murdered. Duncan has admitted that he has pulled the gun, the house gun, and ended the life of Carl.
What is now the attitude of the parents? Will the deny the possibility that their only child could ever have done a thing like that? Will they readily admit that their son has a violent streak and could have done this? We now follow the shifting stands the couple takes in relationship to their son. They talk with his lawyer Hamilton Motsamai, whom they did not know before. They have to get used to his way of app\roaching the situation and the court case. They talk with one another and they discover their differing approaches to their son. The way they try to get on with life, when this very life has changed so much. They learn more and more about the people in the house, this small community, they learn about the way these people interacted, the sexual preferences of their son, in his relationship with Natalie, and outside this relationship. Then parents learn about the different backgrounds of the people in this community and they have to step across their own boundaries in order to understand other people. There is a whole different life beyond their own sheltered gated community and they are drawn into it.
And all the tie this house gun, that was on the table of the living room in the big house. Why was it there and what happened before the murder? Piece by piece the parents find out from the lawyer how he will handle this intricate case, how he will extract confessions from others, that were part of this small community.
Nadine Gordimer has written a splendid book that took me step by step into the lives of these people, especially father, mother and son.
Nadine Gordimer – The House Gun – 1998