Picks and Pans Review: Lifetimes: Under Apartheid

updated 01/05/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/05/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

text by Nadine Gordimer, photographs by David Goldblatt

Gordimer, the novelist and short story writer, and Goldblatt, a free-lance photographer, are white South Africans who stand at the forefront of the campaign against apartheid. In the preface to this collection of her words and his pictures, they write, "Now the country is on the edge of an unspeakably cruel civil war. It is also on the threshold of the new life that must come; the disaster is that the war need never, should never, have been." While the book seems unbalanced—there are sometimes six pages of text between photographs—it makes its point. Goldblatt's photographs grimly depict the tense, desolate lives most black South Africans lead. "No one can defect," begins one of Gordimer's poems, and in one of Goldblatt's pictures a solemn boy of 9 or 10 raises a fist as he stands near the graves of four black leaders assassinated in 1985. Like other recent, similar books on South Africa, this volume conjures a horrifying image of a burning fuse that there is no hope of extinguishing. (Knopf, $29.95)

From Our Partners