J.M. Coetzee Watch #2

In "Bookforum" magazine Siddhartha Deb reviews Diary of a Bad Year and notes that the author's change of country of residence, from South Africa to Australia, has not dimmed the writer's focus: "The move to Australia, then, was only a respite for Coetzee. His adopted nation might not be quite as crude as apartheid South Africa in its ideas of power and governance, but it is implicated in other falsehoods, from its disingenuous treatment of its aboriginal people and its devotion to neoliberal dogma right down to its eagerness to sign on to the 'coalition of the willing' led by Washington.

"Coetzee's latest novel, Diary of a Bad Year, has much to say about the West and its shapeless war on terror, taking as its starting point the idea that the liberal democratic state, for all its valorization of representative politics, is as authoritarian a system as any..."

"The complete review" finds that although Diary of a Bad Year is much better than the bulk of modern fiction it might well have been better yet: "Diary of a Bad Year is (somewhat surprisingly) a gripping read. The three-part presentation isn't an undue burden on the reader; the book can't be read like your usual novel, but it doesn't require that much more concentration or contortions to keep track of everything. Diary of a Bad Year is a novel of ideas, and the fictional threads running below the essays keep Coetzee's opinions from coming across as too much in-your-face, or forced onto the reader. And there is some overlap: the underlying story does add to the essay-opinions, even when Coetzee uses it to point out their weaknesses. He is not entirely successful, but it is one technique for trying to turn a writer's usual
monologue into a dialogue.

"If anything, Coetzee could have been more daring about it, pushing all parts of the novel harder than he does. Still, even as is Diary of a Bad Year stands easily above most of the fiction of the day, thought-provoking and entertaining both."

Continuing with Diary of a Bad Year: Mitali Saran in "Tehelka" out of India says that "like all of Coetzee's work, it is well worth reading"; and Minu Ittyipe, in "Newindpress on Sunday", is of the view that "The mixing of non-fiction and fiction, the prurient thoughts and the intellectual engagement on a single page proves to be an interesting and taxing exercise for the reader. "

In "The Capital Times" from Madison, Wisconsin, Jacob Stockinger contrasts Inner Workings: Literary Essays 2000-2005 with Milan Kundera's The Curtain: An Essay in Seven Parts, and concludes: "If you want a quick, more suggestive read with a more philosophical bent that might spark your own grand theories about literature, culture or art, Kundera is probably for you.

"If, on the other hand, you want to hone your skills at close reading and textual analysis, if you want to learn how to use biographical context and how to assess aesthetic execution of specific writers and works, Coetzee's book holds many more modest insights and serves as a better role model"

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on December 5, 2007 1:41 PM.

Fiona McIntosh Interview was the previous entry in this blog.

Prime Minister's Literary Prize is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.23-en