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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Review - Disgrace by J M Coetzee

I had heard about Coetzee and the style of his writing all over the blogosphere but never could get my hands on one of his books. Disgrace just appeared out of the blue and I was thinking how could such a small volume (just over 200 pages) pack such a powerful punch.

Its not a book that is for everyone and it certainly is no holds barred. The story initially has Prof Lurie as the main character and evolves around him and his penchant for sexual encounters of all kinds ending with a disastrous one with his student Melanie. Throw in a jealous boyfriend and Melanie herself who is a bit like putty in anyone's hands, we have a sexual harassment charge, an inquiry, and the Professor out of a job. Lurie then visits his daughter Lucy who is upto now quite distant from him and who runs a small farm. Lucy welcomes her father but she has different ideas of how life should be lived. A violent encounter with three men where Lurie is savagely attacked and Lucy raped shows the violence in South Africa brought about by apathetic policing and the attitude seen that "they" are occupying "our" land and anything is fair game of trying to wrest it back. Lucy herself is not wanting any kind of showdown or even any kind of confrontation with the men who raped her and instead much to her father's horror sides with the protaganists and seeks the protection of her former overseer as his third wife - all for the fact that he will protect her in his own way and allow her to farm her land which she will ultimately leave to him.

The book is hard hitting, straight talking and is poignant to the point of keeping you on the edge. It is not a romantic love or an idealistic love of the land that keeps Lucy on the farm. One can understand very easily why this became a Booker prize as the style of writing is so very gripping. Everyone should read this at sometime in their life.


  1. I remember being stunned by this book. It wasn't a pleasant read, but I came away having learned something about the nature of man.

  2. Great review. It sounds like a powerful book.

  3. +JMJ+

    I read this in uni, the year Cotzee won the Nobel Prize. It was every bit as powerful then as you describe it in this review.

  4. I very much want to read this book. Thanks for the review.

  5. When you mentioned that you had read and reviewed this book, I had to come read it right away. As you saw on my post today, I just read this and am still not sure what to think. It was, as you say, a hard-hitting book. Good review!