Nobel Prize for literature laureate Nadine Gordimer has died in her sleep. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti

Johannesburg - South Africa lost an unmatched literary giant with Nobel laureate and writer Nadine Gordimer's death, the ANC said on Monday.

“The African National Congress sends its heartfelt condolences to Gordimer's family, friends and her comrades and colleagues,” national spokesman Zizi Kodwa said in a statement.

Kodwa said Gordimer was a worthy recipient of the 1991 Nobel Prize for Literature, among her many other accolades.

“Nadine has been awarded with no less than 15 honorary degrees from universities worldwide,” he said.

“Gordimer was a founding member of the Congress of South African Writers. As a member of the ANC in 1989, Nadine testified in the mitigation for 11 United Democratic Front leaders and Vaal Civil Association activists.”

Gordimer became the first South African, and the first woman in 25 years, to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Earlier on Monday, law firm Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs said in a statement on behalf of the Gordimer family: “Her son Hugo and daughter Oriane and her caring helpers were with her... A private memorial service will be announced at a later date.”

It said she died “peacefully in her sleep at home in Johannesburg on Sunday”.

Gordimer was 90-years-old.