LONDON: Doris Lessing emerged from a black cab outside her home in London one day in 2007 and was confronted by a horde of reporters. When told she had won the Nobel Prize, she blinked and retorted “Oh Christ! … I couldn’t care less.”
That was typical of the independent — and often irascible — author who died Sunday at age 94 after a long career that included The Golden Notebook, a 1962 novel than made her an icon of the women’s movement. Lessing’s books reflected her own improbable journey across the former British Empire, and later her vision of a future ravaged by atomic warfare.
Lessing explored topics ranging from colonial Africa to dystopian Britain. In winning the Nobel literature prize, the Swedish Academy praised Lessing for her “skepticism, fire and visionary power.”
The often-polarizing Lessing never saved her fire for the page. The targets of her vocal ire in recent years included former President George W. Bush — “a world calamity” — and modern women — “smug, self-righteous.” She also raised hackles by deeming the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States “not that terrible.”
Although she continued to publish at least one book every two years, she received little attention for her later works.
Lessing was 88 when she won the Nobel literature prize, making her the oldest recipient of the award.