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The critical writing — yours — about my work, its development, its contradictions as well as its creative solutions painfully arrived at, its relation, through me and my evolvement (sic) with politics and the history-as-politics that we call ‘our times’ — all this is outstandingly excellent. I speak of the criticism as well as the praise; I speak of the insights you have that are truly illuminating, even to me, of my own writing. Thank you.

— Nadine Gordimer

Book information

ISBN: 978-1-919855-58-5

Trim size: 230 x 150mm

Binding: paperback

Page count: 736 pages

Imagery: Black & white photographs

Cost: R350.00

Genre: Biography

Publication date: October 2005



No Cold Kitchen charts Nadine Gordimer’s life and work, providing a vibrant portrait of the country Gordimer lived in, the history she lived through, and the people around her — people in South Africa, such as Nelson Mandela, George Bizos, Es’kia Mphehlele, Bram Fischer, Nat Nakasa, Desmond Tutu and Alan Paton; and people abroad, including Susan Sontag, Salman Rushdie, Anthony Sampson, Edward Said, Amos Oz, Harry Levin and New Yorker editor, Katharine White.

 Drawing upon unprecedented access to Gordimer and her documents, No Cold Kitchen gives sympathetic but rigorous attention to the full range of Gordimer’s work, teasing out the inevitable contradictions between her public and private voices and granting the reader an intimate insight into what Gordimer underwent and overcame, both during apartheid and afterwards. Ronald Suresh Roberts shrewdly chronicles the drive that led Gordimer, who described herself as ‘a barefoot girl from Springs’, to a Nobel Prize for literature.


Ronald Suresh Roberts

Born in London to a father from Trinidad and a mother from Malaysia (her own parents from India), Ronald Suresh Roberts grew up in Trinidad before attending Balliol College, Oxford in the 1980s on the same scholarship that had earlier taken V. S. Naipaul to Oxford. After graduating from Harvard Law School, Roberts worked on Wall Street while beginning to write. His first book, a critique of black neoconservatives called Clarence Thomas and the Tough Love Crowd, was published by New York University Press.

In March and April 1994, Roberts coordinated an officially accredited international election-monitoring delegation to South Africa. He afterwards entered debates concerning the democratisation of post-apartheid culture, laws and the economy and was a prominent figure in the unfolding public discourse of the post-apartheid era. In 1996, Nelson Mandela contributed a preface to his book on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, after which he began work on the present biography of Nadine Gordimer.

As an outsider who has achieved ‘insider-liness’ over the course of the last decade, Roberts is acknowledged by his critics and admirers alike to have had a definite impact on public debate. He attracts both praise and criticism in strong measure, confining himself to no ideological ruts, drawing on a diverse personal background. It is with a spirit of seeking the unexpected — of testing and exploration; of strange juxtapositions rather than predictable piety — that this biography of Nadine Gordimer has been written. Roberts published Fit to Govern – the Native Intelligence of Thabo Mbeki, which explores the then President’s intellectual tradition, in 2007. No Cold Kitchen was short-listed for the Sunday Times Alan Paton Award in 2006.