A rich, funny, and deeply affecting autobiographical novel from one of the world's greatest living writers.
J.M. Coetzee's work includes Dusklands, In the Heart of the Country, Waiting for the Barbarians, Life and Times of Michael K - which won the Booker Prize - Foe, Age of Iron, The Master of Petersburg, and the memoir Boyhood: Scenes from Provincial Life. His novel Disgrace won the Booker Prize, making him the first author to have won this prestigious prize twice. His more recent novels include Elizabeth Costello and Slow Man.
In a clever and compelling new novel, Coetzee (Disgrace) probes the life of late South African novelist John Coetzee, whom a young English biographer has begun researching. Coetzee draws on fragments from his own journals to tell the story of a writer. Sandwiched between the journal excerpts are interviews with five people-his cousin Margot, a married woman with whom Coetzee had an affair, a dancer whose young daughter Coetzee taught English, a university colleague, and Martin, a man with whom Coetzee had competed for a university position. From these perspectives, the writer emerges as an introspective loner whose lack of concern for others (demonstrated by his inability to care compassionately for his father, who lives with him) verges on misanthropy. His complete misunderstanding of the workings of the human heart generates writing that is technically playful but dispassionate, yet this distance allows him to peer into the human psyche in ways that others cannot. Verdict Anyone captivated by the themes of distraction and the search for home that characterize the writings of Kafka, W.G. Sebald, Milan Kundera, and Philip Roth will want to travel with Coetzee on this journey toward home. Another brilliant excursion into the nature of writing and the complexities of place and the making of a personal identity. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/09.]-Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Evanston, IL Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
Nobel laureate and two-time Booker-winner Coetzee has been shortlisted for the third time for this powerful novel, a semisequel to the fictionalized memoirs Boyhood and Youth that takes the form of a young biographer's interviews with colleagues of the late author John Coetzee. To Dr. Julia Frankl, who briefly sought in Coetzee deliverance from her husband, he was "not fully human"; to his cousin, Margot Jonker, he is boring, ridiculous and misguided; and to Sophie Deno'l, an expert in African literature, Coetzee is an underwhelming writer with "no original insight into the human condition." The harshest characterization and also the best of the interviews comes from Adriana Nascimento, a Brazilian emigrant who met Coetzee when both were teachers in Cape Town; she was repulsed by the intellectual's attempts at courtship. "He is nothing," she says, "was nothing... an embarrassment." The biographer's efforts to describe his subject ultimately result in an examination that reaches through fiction and memoir to grasp what the traditional record leaves out. (Jan.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.