The Lying Days is the debut novel of Nobel winning South African novelist, Nadine Gordimer. It was published in 1953 in London by Victor Gollancz and New York by Simon & Schuster. It is Gordimer's third published book, following two collections of short stories, Face to Face (1949), and The Soft Voice of the Serpent (1952).[1][2][3] The novel is semi-autobiographical, with the main character coming from a small mining town in Africa similar to Gordimer's own childhood.[4] The novel is also a bildungsroman "about waking up from the naivete of a small colonial town."[5]

The Lying Days
Cover of first UK edition
AuthorNadine Gordimer
PublisherVictor Gollancz (UK)
Simon & Schuster (US)
Publication date
Publication placeUnited Kingdom



Reviews of The Lying Days in 1953 were generally positive. New York Times critic James Stern compared the novel favourably to the works of Alan Paton, especially Cry, the Beloved Country, describing The Lying Days as the better of the two novels.[6] Stern described the novel as less "novel" and more "biography", following the style and form of biographical writing.[6] In a review in the Fitchburg Sentinel, W. G. Rogers wrote that in The Lying Days Gordimer shows that South Africa "is a land not of a single problem, race, but of many problems which that one central issue seems to magnify and intensify."[7] Rogers complimented Gordimer on the way she "brings her characters so surely to life", and on how she "writes so moving of love".[7]

Writing in the El Paso Herald-Post, F. A. Ehmann called The Lying Days "not a bad novel", adding that once it got going, Gordimer's characters become "interesting", the plot "satisfactory", and her prose "good [and] honest".[8] But Ehmann was critical of her "experimental prose" at the beginning, saying that "this maladroit display of implied symbolism, disjointed reverie and rhetorical questions is both unnecessary and badly disjointed."[8] In a review in the Petersburg Progress Index, Joan Pollack described The Lying Days as "alive, bright and inquiring" and complimented it on its "handling ... the problems of youth [while] still maintaining the beauty and adventure of life."[9] Pollack said Gordimer "is an expert craftsman and her sensitive ability to portray the most delicate emotions should place her among the most promising newcomers today".[9]


  1. ^ "Nadine Gordimer". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  2. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Literature 1991: Nadine Gordimer". 3 October 1991. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  3. ^ Shain, Milton; Pimstone, Miriam. "Nadine Gordimer: 1923–2014". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  4. ^ Neary, Lynn (14 July 2014). "Writer Nadine Gordimer Captured Apartheid's Contradictions". Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  5. ^ Wästberg, Per. "Nadine Gordimer and the South African Experience". Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  6. ^ a b Stern, James (4 October 1953). "The Lying Days". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
  7. ^ a b Rogers, W. G. (5 October 1953). "The Lying Days". Fitchburg Sentinel. Fitchburg, Massachusetts. p. 6.  
  8. ^ a b Ehmann, F. A. (10 October 1953). "The Lying Days". El Paso Herald-Post. El Paso, Texas. p. 7.  
  9. ^ a b Pollack, Joan (18 October 1953). "South African Writes Well of Youth". Petersburg Progress Index. Petersburg, Virginia. p. 5.  

Further reading



  • Rothman, Nathan (3 October 1953). "When Africa Sighs". The Saturday Review.
  • Blair, Alison (January 1954). "Five Novels". Encounter.
  • Tanner, Elaine (22 December 1953). "Coming of Age in South Africa". The Reporter. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  • Raleigh, John Henry (25 January 1954). "The Lying Days, by Nadine Gordimer". The New Republic: 18.
  • Hayes, Richard (23 October 1953). "The Lying Days, by Nadine Gordimer". Commonweal: 66.
  • "Twenty-eight outstanding books of the previous quarter". The American Scholar: 246–252. Spring 1954.

Scholarly criticism

  • Dimitriu, Ileana (May 2002). "The Civil Imaginary in Gordimer's First Novels" (PDF). English in Africa. 29 (1): 27–54 – via
  • Head, Dominic (1994). "The early novels: The Lying Days, A World of Strangers and Occasion for Loving". Nadine Gordimer. Cambridge Studies in African and Caribbean Literature. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780511554391.
  • Green, Robert (1 April 1988). "From "The Lying Days to July's People": The Novels of Nadine Gordimer". Journal of Modern Literature. 14 (4): 543–563. ISSN 0022-281X. JSTOR 3831565.