Despite being banned in South Africa, Burger's Daughter won the 1980 Central News Agency (CNA) Literary Award, a prominent literary award in that country. In 1991 Gordimer was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for her works of "intense immediacy" and "extremely complicated personal and social relationships in her environment". During the award ceremony speech by Sture Allén, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, Burger's Daughter was cited as one of Gordimer's novels in which "artistry and morality fuse".
In 2001 the novel was named one of South Africa's top 10 books in The Guardian in the United Kingdom by author Gillian Slovo, daughter of South African anti-apartheid activists Joe Slovo and Ruth First. Following Gordimer's death in 2014, The Guardian and Time magazine put Burger's Daughter in their list of the top five Gordimer books. Indian writer Neel Mukherjee included Burger's Daughter in his 2015 "top 10 books about revolutionaries", also published in The Guardian.