Doris Lessing – Nobel Prize in Literature: Books

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When she divorced Mr. Lessing, she and her young son, Peter, moved to London, where she began her literary career. His first novel, published in 1950, was “The Herb Sings”, which recounted the relationship between a white farmer’s wife and his black servant. In her first book, Ms. Lessing drew on her childhood experiences in colonial Rhodesia to write about the collision of white and black cultures and racial injustice.

Credit…Jonathan Player for the New York Times

Because of her outspoken views, the governments of Southern Rhodesia and South Africa declared her a “banned alien” in 1956.

When “The Golden Notebook” was first published in the United States, Ms. Lessing was still unknown. Robert Gottlieb, then his publisher at Simon & Schuster and later at Alfred A. Knopf, said he only sold 6,000 copies. “But they were the correct 6,000 copies,” Mr. Gottlieb said over the phone from his New York home. “People who read her were galvanized by it, and it made her a famous writer in America.”

Speaking from Frankfurt at its annual International Book Fair, Jane Friedman, President and CEO of HarperCollins, which has published Ms. Lessing in the United States and Britain for the past 20 years, said that “for women and for literature, Doris Lessing is a mother to all of us.

Ms. Lessing’s other novels include “The Good Terrorist” and “Martha Quest”. Her latest novel is “The Cleft”, published by HarperCollins in July. Much of his work in the second half of his career did not receive the critical response of his warmly received early papers.

She dabbled in science fiction, and some of her later works bear the imprint of her interest in Sufi mysticism, which she interpreted as emphasizing a connection between the destinies of individuals and of society.

Lynn Bryan, a friend of Ms Lessing, spent time with the author yesterday as the flowers arrived, champagne was served and the phone rang. Ms Bryan said she asked Ms Lessing why she thought she won the award this year.


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