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The Pickup [Paperback]

Nadine Gordimer
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 24 2002

Who picked up whom? Is the pickup the illegal immigrant desperate to evade deportation to his impoverished desert country? Or is the pickup the businessman's daughter trying to escape a privileged background she despises?

When Julie Summers's car breaks down near a garage on a sleazy street, a young Arab emerges from beneath the chassis of a vehicle to aid her. Soon they are enmeshed in a relationship of unpredictably relentless emotions, a relationship that overturns each one's notion of the other and of the solutions life demands for different circumstances.

A novel of great power and concision, psychological surprises and unexpected developments, The Pickup is a story of the world of emigration and immigration, where love can survive only if stripped of all certainties outside itself.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

While Nobel Prize-winner Gordimer's trenchant fiction has always achieved universal relevance in capturing apartheid and its lingering effects in South Africa, this new work attains still broader impact as she explores the condition of the world's desperate dispossessed. To Julie Summer, rebellious daughter of a rich white investment banker, the black mechanic she meets at a garage is initially merely an interesting person to add to her circle of bohemian friends. But as their relationship swiftly escalates, Julie comes to understand her lover's perilous tightrope attempts to find a country that will shelter him. Abdu, as he calls himself (it's not his real name), is an illegal immigrant from an abysmally poor Arab country. Now on the verge of deportation from South Africa, he's forced to return to his ancestral village. Julie insists on marrying him and going with him, despite his fears that she does not understand how primitive conditions are in the desert town where his strict Muslim family lives. Abdu (now Ibrahim) is astonished when she willingly does manual labor to earn his family's respect. They clash, however, over his decision to try once again to gain entry into a country that discriminates against immigrants from his part of the world. Gradually realizing that she has finally found a center to her heretofore aimless life, Julie matures; in many ways, she has become more cognizant of reality than her frantically hopeful husband. Gordimer handles these psychological nuances with understated finesse. With characteristic bravado, she reprises a character from her previous book, The House Gun, to show how some blacks are now faring in a reorganized South African society. The brilliant black defense lawyer in that book has taken advantage of opportunities to join a banking conglomerate; he is now involved in "the intimate language of money." It's the people still trapped by economic chaos and racism who now interest this inveterate and eloquent champion of the world's outcasts.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

An incinerating affair between a wealthy young woman and an Arab mechanic.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars two books in one March 6 2004
By Emma_1
This book goes deep in explaining how a western woman may find herself desiring non-western conventions. Is it just the novelty of the situation, the novelty of dating someone from a different background, the underdog? Or is the woman desiring another life completely different from her own? From the man's perspective, you wonder through the whole book if what he sees in her is love or if she means an opportunity to settle in a western developed country.
The first part of this book is set in South Africa, the woman's country, while the second is set in Abu's no-named but Arabian underveloped country. The first part of the book is pretty conventional, but it does get much better - I thought that the first part was in truth stage-setting for the second part.
At the end of the book, I was left wondering if the two main characters were looking for love in each other or looking for means to fill their lives with true meaning. I was also left wondering why the most appropriate choice is not always what it seems from the outside.
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5.0 out of 5 stars No Pat Answers Nov. 3 2003
By J. Owen
No Pat Answers. A Book Review of The Pick Up, Nadine Gordimer, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, copyright 2001
Required reading for any sophisticated reader and non-Muslim women that are involved with, considering involvement with or have been involved with "the other", in this case a Muslim man.
The main female character, Julie, is adrift in her middle class life. She is annoying, self-centered, independent yet vague. She and her friend spend many hours at the EL-AY Table in a cafe somewhere in a cosmopolitan South African location. Here, these folks bide and chat away their time while claiming each other as family. Involved in each other's lives, they are liberal, artist, freedom-loving, accepting and kind of vacuous. Abdu is working illegally, in a nearby garage. His Arabic country of origin remains unnamed throughout the book. We are given a sense of his physicality, his respect for authority and wealth and his incredible desire to flee his own country for a better life.
The characters on their own.....bore. "She is aware of having to learn in a circumstance she, in all her confident discard of conventional ones, finds she had no preparation for. He, her find; it was also this one, to be discovered in herself." Together, the characters intrigue. Their relationship launches from the land of great chemistry.
Casually, Julie "picks up" Abdu, or does he pick her up? The question subsides as what sometimes happens with people, happens, they fall in love. The sexuality and love-making are very tastefully and elegantly described. "That night they made love, the kind of love-making that is another country, a country of its own, not yours or mine."
We are unassumingly lead down the path this relationship follows. Ms.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Sorry I picked it up... May 13 2003
This was the first book I've read by Nadine Gordimer--and it will also be my last. The story on the dust jacket intrigued me, and although I read the book very quickly I thought it was deeply flawed. Gordimer's clumsy writing style was distracting and seemed contrived. Moreover, I found her attempt at treating the themes of globalization and cross-cultural interaction very stereotypical. The protagonist Julie is a poor little rich girl who is depicted with veiled contempt and condescenion by the author. I couldn't muster up much sympathy for her either. Once Julie and her lover "Abdu" go to his unnamed homeland, the story becomes completely preposterous and it is obvious that Gordimer does not know what she is talking about and does not know much about Middle Eastern culture. By refusing to be specific about Abdu's country, Gordimer engages in orientalism--so I was really surprised to see that Edward Said gave this book a glowing review. For a better treatment of cross cultural issues, I would recommend Half a Life by V.S. Naipaul.
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By A Customer
"The Pickup (PU)" may be Nadine Gordimer's best novel to date. Her observations about social and cultural conflict and the universal truths revealed in her latest is proof indeed that, despite her well entrenched reputation as an African novelist, Gordimer's aim is lofty and wide and the result is that she has successfully avoided being cast in the limiting mould of an ethnic writer.
PU doesn't necessarily make easy reading. Gordimer's prose is terse, occasionally difficult, and distancing. Her perspectives often shift from Julie to Abdu and back again without any warning, so you may find yourself stranded in mid air - like a deer caught in the headlights - but the discomfort is only temporary because you quickly find your feet and recover. The style that Gordimer has chosen to write in isn't alienating but curiously congruous within the context of the social and cultural issues she surfaces in this tale with an otherwise well worn premise of a white girl picking up a black boy and paying the price of her socially disgraceful act.
Julie Summers is a white girl from a privileged background in South Africa. She despises her father's life of business, privilege and distinction, choosing to spend her time hanging out with her other liberal minded friends at the "EL-AY Café Table", where they congregate daily to [complain] about social injustices, etc. Abdu is an illegal immigrant, working long hours like a "grease monkey" in a run down garage and desperate to make a living in his newly (albeit illegally) adopted home. Julie picks Abdu up after a chance meeting. They become lovers and when Abdu gets deported, Julie decides to marry him and they return to his natural home, an unnamed country in Africa.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Culture Clash
I've heard the recorded version of this book a few weeks ago. I've got the CDs from our local library on a whim.
I was very impressed and surprised. Read more
Published 16 months ago by J. da Silva
1.0 out of 5 stars Annoying drivel
If you enjoy page after page of convoluted, awkward prose; if you like being fed commonplace observations and don't mind being expected to stomach them as profound insights; and... Read more
Published on Dec 13 2003 by Anne
2.0 out of 5 stars Overrated writer
Looks like I'm the second reader from the small town of Los Osos, CA who was underwhelmed with this book. Read more
Published on July 13 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars The worst book I've read in three years...
If you like reading each paragraph twice due to incoherent, sophomoric'll like this book.
Published on Jan. 16 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars A most beautiful story
"Clustered predators round a kill. It's a small car with a young woman inside it. The battery has failed and taxis, cars, minibuses, vans, motorcycles butt and challege one... Read more
Published on Nov. 3 2002 by "jay1939"
5.0 out of 5 stars A great love story ...
...if you like books that complicate conventional notions of love. The first half of the book is a disorienting bit of restraint, the meaning of which is only revealed once the... Read more
Published on June 1 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly atmospheric; left me close to tears
This book is very subtle and beautiful. The carefully detailed explanation of the relationship that grows and changes between Julie and Abdu is exquisite. Read more
Published on April 24 2002 by J. Rosenberg
5.0 out of 5 stars At The End Of The Rainbow
Through the use of a highly creative writing style, almost 'expressionistic' in character, Gordimer describes a wonderful illustration of a human transformation. Read more
Published on April 21 2002 by Jon Linden
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, until the end
Okay let's start with what I didn't like......the ending. I found it terribly unsatisfying....perhaps because I am a romantic and had hoped for something more along those... Read more
Published on April 13 2002 by Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson
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