July's People

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July's People
First edition cover (RSA)
Author Nadine Gordimer
Country South Africa
Language English
Publisher Raven/Taurus (RSA)
Jonathan Cape (UK)
Viking Press (US)
Publication date
Published in English
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 195
ISBN 9780747578383

July's People is a 1981 novel by the South African writer Nadine Gordimer. Gordimer wrote the book before the end of apartheid as her prediction of how it would end. The book was notably banned in South Africa after its publication.[1]


The novel is set during a fictional civil war in which black South Africans have violently overturned the system of apartheid.[2] The story follows the Smales, a liberal White South African family who were forced to flee Johannesburg to the native village of their black servant, July. Maureen tries working with the women in the fields, digging up leaves and roots. Afterward, she goes to see July, who is working on the bakkie.

When July says she should not work with the women, she asks if he fears she will tell his wife about Ellen. He angrily asserts that she can only tell Martha that he has always been a good servant. Maureen, frightened, realizes that the dignity she thought she had always conferred upon him was actually humiliating to him. He informs her that he and the Smales have been summoned to the chief's village. Though July has authority in his village, they still must ask the chief's permission to stay. Maureen struggles with her new subservience to July.

After Gina goes to play with Nyiko and Bam goes with Victor and Royce to fish, a helicopter with unidentifiable markings flies over the village.


  1. ^ "South Africa reinstates authors". BBC News. 22 April 2001. Retrieved 2009-06-10. 
  2. ^ Anne Tyler (7 June 1981). "South Africa after Revolution - Anne Tyler". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 17 May 2015.