This kind of honour previously bestowed on outstanding statesmen like Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi.
"I am overwhelmed (by) the honour, it has to do with my work, the centre of my life and the centre of my life in South Africa," said 87-year-old Gordimer.
Gordimer won Nobel prize for literature in 1991, when the Nobel committee said her "magnificent epic writing has been of very great benefit to humanity.
About 13 novels translated into 40 languages, more than 200 short stories and several volumes of essays were written by Gordimer.
"Nothing is as true as my fiction," said Gordimer once of her novels.