Who picked up whom? Is the pickup the illegal immigrant desperate to evade deportation to his impoverished desert country? Or is the pickup the powerful businessman's daughter trying to escape a privileged background she despises? When Julie Summers' car breaks down in the sleazy street where she meets her Retro-Sixties friends, a young Arab garage mechanic emerges from beneath the chassis of a vehicle to aid her. Out of this meeting develops an extraordinary story of unpredictable and relentless emotions that turn on its head each one's notions of the other. No action by either is what the other expects. She insists, against his know-how of the rules of survival, on leaving the country with him when he is deported. The love affair becomes a marriage - that state she regards as a social convention appropriate to her father's set - but decreed by her 'grease-monkey' (as her friends privately dub him) in order to present her respectably to his family. In the Arab village, while he is dedicated to escaping, again to what he believes is a fulfilling life in Western-style countries, she is drawn by a counter-magnet of new affinities in his close family and the omnipresence of the desert
Nadine Gordimer's many novels include The Lying Days (her first novel), The Conservationist, joint winner of the Booker Prize, Burger's Daughter, July's People, My Son's Story, None to Accompany Me and, most recently, The House Gun. Her collections of short stories include Something Out There and Jump. In 1991 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. She lives in South Africa.