The House Gun by Nadine Gordimer


A psychological sketch of parents


About The House Gun by Nadine Gordimer (from Library Journal): Harald and Claudia, highly successful professionals (he heads up an insurance company, she is a physician), find their comfortable life in post-apartheid South Africa turned upside down when their only son is accused of murdering one of his housemates, using the communal "house gun" they had purchased for protection. The parents are dumbfounded when Duncan does not deny the crime. How could their son be a murderer, and are they somehow to blame? Duncan acted out of jealousy, but was it heterosexual jealousy or something else? He is going to be defended by a black attorney. Will the attorney's lack of courtroom experience be a liability, or will his race favorably influence the judge? Harald and Claudia are ashamed to find themselves asking these questions.

My take

I felt like I was holding my breath throughout the whole book, expecting something earthshaking to happen. But a third into it, I was still waiting ... halfway into it, still waiting... and when the moment arrived, arrrrggghhh, is that IT?

Not exactly a page-turner, but an incisive look into the psychology of parents to their child. How well do you really know your child? If your son were accused of murder, would you feel obligated to believe him as innocent? To what lengths would you protect your son?

It also examines to a lesser degree white-black relations and power play in South Africa.

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