The Giver – Literature to Movie – Kathy Bostjancic

The Giver is a novel set in a dystopian future where character, color, and emotion are shunned. People are given drugs so they can’t remember the past, and all aspire to be the same as everyone else.   The main character is Jonas who is able to see things the other’s can’t. This puts him in a unique position to take over as “The Receiver”, who does receive memories, and helps in creating policy.

The novel or its cliff notes have been read by nearly every person who grew up in the United States since its release. It has sold more than 10 million copies and continues to sell. Three books published later “Gathering Blue”, “Messenger”, and “Son” all take place in the same setting. The book won the 1994 Newberry and Regina awards, but is controversial and was included on the list of top challenged books of the 1990’s.

Dystopian fantasy like “The Giver” is a popular sub-genre in science fiction. Its stories nearly all consist of societies with mass poverty or oppression. These societies usually brought the issues on themselves by doing something our society is doing today. For this reason they are often considered preachy.

There is no doubt the young adult movie franchise is a popular trend. Both ‘Divergent’ and ‘Hunger Games’ have done well at the box office and producers love being able to have predictable success. ‘The Giver’, although similar in many ways, differs by being devoid of violence and focusing more on the philosophy and difficulties of growing up in a society where you are separated from your family and people strive to be the same.

Nobel Prize Winner Nadine Gordimer

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The world lost an amazing writer and political activist in Nadine Gordimer last week, her vast collection of literary works continue to motivate and inspire.

Gordimer was raised by Jewish parents in South Africa. Her father was an immigrant from Russia, and her mother from London. Her father was not particularly political but her mother was sympathetic to the blacks and their plight against discrimination in South Africa.
Spending a great deal of time alone as a child, Gordimer developed a love of reading and writing, and published her first story published at the age of 15. The short story, “The Quest for Sea Gold” was a written for children. It wasn’t until 1938 at the age of sixteen when she had her first adult fiction published.
At 26, Gordimer moved to Johannesburg for university. It is here she eventually made her home. Though she did not complete her degree she continued to write short stories. She was a huge proponent of the short story and in 1951, she was published for the first time in The New Yorker, which turned out to be the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship.
In 1953, Gordimer moved away from the short story to publish her first novel, “The Lying Days”. The novel is a coming-of-age narrative of a young woman, Helen, who sees at a very young age the oppression of the black population in South Africa. The protagonist, much like Gordimer herself, grows in political awareness as South Africa continues down the destructive path of apartheid.
Though much of what she wrote was anti-apartheid, she didn’t become truly active in South African politics until 1960 when her best friend was arrested. During this time, she befriended Nelson Mandela’s attorneys and even helped him write some of his most famous speeches.
As Gordimer became increasingly political her novels, “The Late Bourgeois World,” and “A World of Strangers,” were both banned 10 and 12 years respectively. Only serving to reinforce her feelings, she continued to be active politically, often traveling internationally to speak out against apartheid.
Her life’s work earned her awards and recognition, culminating in a well deserved Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991.