The Pickup is a 2001 novel by South African writer Nadine Gordimer. It tells the story of a couple: Julie Summers, a white woman from a financially secure family, and Abdu, an illegal Arab immigrant in South Africa. After Abdu’s visa is refused, the couple returns to his unnamed homeland, where she is the alien. Her experiences and growth as an alien in another culture form the heart of the work. The Pickup considers the issues of displacement, alienation, and immigration, class and economic power, religious faith, and the ability of people to see and love across these divides.
In Nadine Gordimer’s The Pickup, the love affair between two individuals from vastly different backgrounds is intensively portrayed. Julie, a young woman from a wealthy, upper class white family in Johannesburg, picks up Ibrahim, an illegal immigrant from an unnamed Arabic country, in the garage where Ibrahim works. The affair starts as a casual pickup, and later evolves into a complicated relationship which has great influence on them and leads them to new directions none of them have expected.
The class difference and mutual incomprehension between Ibrahim and Julie arouse their curiosity in each other. In fact, no personal interaction takes place until Julie shows up in the garage in her father’s Rover, signifying the huge gap between them – a daughter of a prominent white citizen and an illegal Arabic immigrant earning his bread as a car technician. Through the acquaintance with Julie, Ibrahim, an illegal immigrant, sees a possibility of escaping deportation. Julie represents a relation to the rich upper class, the circle of social elite, the wealthy with political influences, all of which Ibrahim aspires to. Ibrahim accepts the unjustifiable means to success, with more understanding of the harsh reality in life. To achieve his idea of success, he is willing to try all kinds of methods, just as to avoid deportation, he grasps at any chance that comes along. Ibrahim’s behavior mirrors his belief that the end justifies the means, no matter how sordid the means are, indicating the characteristic of an opportunist. Yet Julie is blind to this characteristic despite her aversion to the sordid dealings among the rich and the powerful.
Download the book: The Pickup.pdf