Caches of old papers are like graves; you shouldn’t open them. -From A Beneficiary, by Nadine Gordimer-
I am a bit embarrassed that I have never read anything by Nadine Gordimer until now. This wonderful short story was published in the New Yorker earlier this year and I read it as part of the 21st Fiction Yahoo Group who are reading one on-line short story each month in addition to their regular schedule of novel reads.
The story opens by introducing the main character, Charlotte (aka Charlie) whose mother, an actress, has just died. While packing up her mother’s belongings, Charlie stumbles upon an old letter which becomes the catalyst for the rest of the story. The ending is immensely satisfying with a bigger message about what it means to be a parent.
Gordimer is an artist with words, painting her characters so lifelike that the reader forgets they are reading fiction. I was completely entranced by this story which I read in less than an hour.
After reading this little gem, I am motivated to pick up other works of this South African Nobel Laureate (Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991). Gordimer has written 14 novels and 11 short story collections.
I rate this one a 5/5 and highly recommend it!