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Description - Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee

A divorced, middle-aged English professor finds himself increasingly unable to resist affairs with his female students. When discovered by the college authorities, he is expected to apologise and repent in an effort to save his job, but he refuses to become a scapegoat in what he see as as a show trial designed to reinforce a stringent political correctness. He preempts the authorities and leaves his job, and the city, to spend time with his grown-up lesbian daughter on her remote farm. Things between them are strained - there is much from the past they need to reconcile - and the situation becomes critical when they are the victims of a brutal and horrifying attack. In spectacularly powerful and lucid prose, Coetzee uses all his formidable skills to engage with a post-apartheid culture in unexpected and revealing ways. This examination into the sexual and politcal lawlines of modern South Africa as it tries desperately to start a fresh page in its history is chilling, uncompromising and unforgettable.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099289524
ISBN-10: 0099289520
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 14mm)
Pages: 224
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 6-Apr-2000
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee

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Book Review: Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee - Reviewed by (02 Mar 2013)

Disgrace is the eighth stand-alone novel by award-winning author, J.M.Coetzee. After a short-lived, impulsive affair with a student, Romance poetry teacher, David Lurie resigns his position at Cape Town Technical University and retreats to his daughter’s farm in the South African countryside. They live in relative harmony until an attack leaves them feeling violated and fearful. Lurie retrns to Cape Town to work on an opera he is composing about the poet Byron and his lover Teresa. As Coetzee narrates the recent events of Lurie’s life if the face of the changing political landscape of South Africa, he examines a range of topics: ageing, lesbianism, a male’s contribution in sex, violence and violation, rape, humiliation, the price to be paid to be permitted to remain peacefully in a land reclaimed by its owners, freedom of speech, freedom to remain silent, power relations and sexual relations. Lurie’s refusal to pay lip service to convention’s demands highlights the inflexible and occasionally ridiculous nature of the system. His daughter tells him, “….surely you know by now that the trials are not about principles, they are about how well you put yourself across.” While there is some excellent prose: “The skull, followed by the temperament: the two hardest parts of the body.” and “The language he draws on with such aplomb is, if he only knew it, tired, friable, eaten from inside as if by termites. Only monosyllables can still be relied on, and not even all of them.”, the writing style is not particularly pleasing and the characters are unappealing and often irritating. I read this book after having read The Childhood of Jesus, which has been predicted to win Coetzee another Booker, to see if I liked it any better than that one. A Man Booker prize winner this one may be, but it confirms for me that I need read no more Coetzee.


Author Biography - J. M. Coetzee

J.M. Coetzee's work includes Waiting For the Barbarians, Life & Times of Michael K, Boyhood, Youth, Disgrace and Diary of a Bad Year. He was the first author to win the Booker Prize twice and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003.

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