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Disgrace: A Novel Paperback – August 27, 2008
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" Disgrace is not a hard or obscure book-it is, among other things, compulsively readable-but what it may well be is an authentically spiritual document, a lament for the soul of a disgraced century."
-The New Yorker
About the Author
Born in Cape Town, South Africa, on February 9, 1940, John Michael Coetzee studied first at Cape Town and later at the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a Ph.D. degree in literature. In 1972 he returned to South Africa and joined the faculty of the University of Cape Town. His works of fiction include Dusklands, Waiting for the Barbarians, which won South Africa’s highest literary honor, the Central News Agency Literary Award, and the Life and Times of Michael K., for which Coetzee was awarded his first Booker Prize in 1983. He has also published a memoir, Boyhood: Scenes From a Provincial Life, and several essays collections. He has won many other literary prizes including the Lannan Award for Fiction, the Jerusalem Prize and The Irish Times International Fiction Prize. In 1999 he again won Britain’s prestigious Booker Prize for Disgrace, becoming the first author to win the award twice in its 31-year history. In 2003, Coetzee was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
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Long-story-short, Lurie risks an affair with a young student and then faces an ethical inquiry, which he basically stonewalls because he believes, not just teaches, that a man lives nobly as a "servant of Eros" and with "madness of the heart." The disgraced Lurie then visits his daughter Lucy, who lives alone at an isolated farm on the veldt. In Lucy's marginal world, David's high-minded principles, for which he staked his career, are irrelevant and inutile.
Regardless, David tries to behave honorably in the country, standing by his powerless daughter, who bears deep psychological scars from the divorce of her parents. He also continues to seek honorable expression for his aesthetic values and interests, which ultimately reach a moment of brutal honesty that Coetzee phrases perfectly through the fate of a loving but lame dog.
DISGRACE is a fine novel that explores the nature of aesthetic insights and moral responsibility, as well as the cost of survival. Highly recommended.
Mostly, however, it was about David. His relationship with his daughter, his fall from grace, his understanding of himself.
It was a very good book, a quick read. But gritty - and anybody who has severe sensitivity to animals should NOT read this book. I can get through almost anything in books, and I actually had to skip most of a chapter of this book.
I'm looking forward to reading more Coetzee.