Friday, 12 February 2016

Get a Life by Nadine Gordimer

"Get a Life" is the story of  a white South African family going through several crises.The protagonist is a   35 years old man  named Paul,  is  an ecologist in South  Africa , battling against installation of a planned nuclear  plant.He is    detected with  life-threatening  thyroid cancer and undergoes treatment for it. He is prescribed a treatment that makes his body  radioactive for a few days .He moves in with his parents to protect his wife and young son from radiation. His wife Benni is an executive  in an advertisement agency , promoting development.Paul suddenly , in his fragile state, realises the contradiction  in values between his work as a conservationist and  the work of his wife in the advertising agency for the firms that would degrade and pollute the very environment that he   fights to protect. After this life threatening experience, neither Paul , nor his relationship with Benni is the same as before.There is some gap in the intimacy.
        Paul's experience not only changes his own life , but also the lives of people around him.
   The novel  describes  the  realisation of a  changing  relationship between the parents of Paul , Adrian    and Lyndsay, perhaps due to the  traumatic experience of Paul , vicariously experienced .The mother( Lyndsay ) is a competent lawyer  and the father Adrian  who earlier chucked his own  career as an archaeologist to promote  Lindsay's as a lawyer, now drift apart .Ultimately , Lindsay becomes a judge but  their life and relationship undergoes a sea change.
                                   Paul survives  the cancer and thus gets a  new but different  life .The title" get a life" has a dual meaning.The first is encouraging to do some thing in your life.The second is to understand your life .The first is easier to accomplish, the second is  almost impossible.
          The novel  is quite dark and  can dampen the spirits  beneath the bluest skies.The author explores the darker regions of human nature , which most people experience in their worst moments.This book  , though  thought provoking  and  by a Nobel Prize winner  writer, should not be read by those who want to read something light and cheerful.