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This article considers a controversial biography of Nadine Gordimer, as yet the only life of the South African novelist and Nobel laureate. No Cold Kitchen (2005) by Ronald Suresh Roberts was the subject of much media attention when Gordimer revoked her authorization of the project and was accused of “censorship” by her biographer. Beyond the immediate scandal, the Gordimer-Roberts affair reveals latent, unresolved elements within the South African transition. Caught up in the vexed question of critical authority—who can plausibly write about whom in a literary system so warped by colonial and apartheid aftermaths?—it becomes an excessive, overdetermined, and even chaotic life writing project, but one that can still be read against the grain for its wealth of source materials, correspondence, and primary research.