Long-time readers of this weblog will have figured out by now that I restrict the focus of Matilda to Australian literature - fiction or non-fiction - and to books that relate to Australia. I had a bit of a "scoping" problem with J.M. Coetzee in the early days as he was a South African writer living in Australia. But then he started publishing books with Australian settings, themes and characters, and then took up Australian citizenship. So he moved from being a difficulty to fitting in quite nicely. Over the past couple of years I've reported on his books, his essays, reviews of his books and his festival appearances with intermittent regularity. Now, however, I'm finding that he seems to be cropping up everywhere on the web. And I'm wondering if this is the usual case for Nobel Prize winners, or if I'm just that bit more sensitive to his appearances given he's the only living Nobel literature laureate we have in this country? Do Harold Pinter or Nadime Gordimer get the same coverage, or is it just him?
In order to keep track of all this, I've started a "J.M. Coetzee Watch" segment, with this as the first instalment. Don't expect any regular pattern to appearances of this topic. He's just as liable to plunk himself in front of his desk to work on another novel and disappear from view.
Recent web appearances: The quarterly "Hopkins Review" literary magazine is set to be relaunched and JMC is listed among the contributing editors, along with novelist James Salter, poet John Hollander and critic Harold Bloom.
In the "Business Standard", out of India, VV reviews JMC's latest novel, Diary of a Bad Year: "It is the questions more than the plots that make his new novel like the hurly-burly of the politics of our days."
And staying in India, Aveek Sen reviews the same novel for "The Telegraph" from Calcutta: "The structure is polyphonic -- a tribute to Bach, 'the spiritual father'; the plot secretly reworks James and recalls Kawabata; and the implied master-allusion is to Nabokov. Coetzee's latest work is a bottomlessly clever feat of intellectual virtuosity and authorial legerdemain."
I can't tell who runs the "This Space" weblog but they write pretty well. They were also quite impressed by JMC's novel, even though a Booker judge described it as "a piece of radical literary theory." "Diary of a Bad Year is an exceptionally moving investigation of what it means to have singular opinions in a plural universe. The short, diverse essays at the top of each page signal a diminishment of writerly power."