Keywords: Desert; Nadine Gordimer; The Pickup; Post-Apartheid Fiction.
The aim of this article is to analyse Nadine Gordimer's representation of the desert as an extreme site located at the margins of her habitually fictionalized South African world. By exploring the hermeneutical meaning of 'a space beyond the edges', Gordimer's "The Pickup" (2001) describes the heroine's reconfiguration of her own place in the new Islamic lands she inhabits. Julie Summer's struggle for personal integration is strictly connected to communication and language, whose ultimate meaning is conveyed through the desert. Both silence and other non-verbal ways of expression portray, on the one hand, the final image of "the world [...] receding from the communicative grasp of the word" (Steiner 2010: 37). On the other hand, they testify to the search for different ways of cultural and linguistic negotiation in the post-apartheid years.