J.M. Coetzee Watch #8

Reviews of Inner Workings: Literary Essays 2000-2005

V.V. in "Business Standard": "What is important to bear in mind is that Coetzee's focus is on particular novels rather than on the authors' lives: we read these essays not as retrospective appreciations but as engagements with contemporary concerns. Coetzee expects fiction to be judged by its relevance to our lives today, not by abstract notions of 'good' and 'bad'. To this extent, these essays would make us go back to writers we haven't read or to re-read them if we have in a new light."

Reviews of Disgrace

Scot McKnight on the "Jesus Creed" weblog: "...the absence of hope that we find in Cry, the Beloved Country, the almost apocalyptic shift in times from Alan Paton's days to J.M. Coetzee's, and the fuller, bolder, balder presence of dark crime created for me a sense of powerlessness and a grim acceptance of harsh realities. The violence against his daughter Lucy is unbelievably accepted into fatalism, a stance that for me betrayed any sense of justice and morality."

The "Redhead Ramble" weblog wasn't too happy with it: "Now, I can see that the writing is very good, that Coetzee is making a comment on life in post-aparteid South Africa. But I found it very cold, everything seemed so sort of mean. What is with all the stuff about dogs? There is not a single person in the novel [whose] actions made any sense to me -- why was everyone just sort of letting stuff happen to them passively. I didn't care at all about David's Byron Operetta. The character of Petrus, annoyed me as much as he did David. Frustratingly, I wanted to know more of the female characters thoughts, so much is left unexplained. The only positive is the novel is short.."

But the "C'est la vie" weblog found it a "fascinating novel with dark undertones".

Reviews of Waiting for the Barbarians

Zakes Mda in the "Boston Review": "Waiting for the Barbarians upset the expectations of many readers and critics who had grown accustomed to documentary representations of South Africa from the country's interpreters. The novel was seen as the height of self-indulgence: life under apartheid demanded that writers create a translucent window through which the outside world could see authentic oppression. Some critics claimed that Coetzee's use of allegory was an escape from South African reality because the novel, set in a nameless empire and lacking specificity of locale and period, was susceptible to an ahistorical and apolitical reading. The question of the author's political commitment was raised not only in response to this novel but all his subsequent ones. Even Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer weighed in that Coetzee's work, and indeed Coetzee himself, abhorred all political and revolutionary solutions. While acknowledging that Coetzee's work was magnificent, and commending his superb and fearless creative energy, she rapped him on the knuckles for a mode of storytelling that kept him aloof from the grubby and tragic events of South Africa."


Gvwr wonders if the author is related to an uncle by the name of Llewellyn Coetzee, who lives in Namibia.
The film version of Disgrace is due for release later this year, and now John Malkovich - who plays the lead in this film - has suggested to award-winning filmmaker Santosh Sivan that he
direct a film adaptation of Waiting for the Barbarians.
Coetzee has been nominated for the South African "Sunday Times" Fiction Literary Prize. Not sure for what, however.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on June 11, 2008 11:48 AM.

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