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Disgrace, by J.M. Coetzee (1 Viewer)


Disgrace is a short and wonderfully crafted novel. It is plain, but yet enough suggestive, and reads easily. No wonder why Coetzee won the 2003 Nobel Prize for Literature.
The novel, set in post-apartheid South Africa, is the metaphor of the disgraced soul in a disgraced and souless country. The main character, David Lurie, is a mid-aged university professor that is the epitome of South Africa's failure to embrace reconciliation with the establishment. White and divorced a couple of times, he seems to lead a "happy" life sleeping once a week with a prostitute. He has a daughter who is a lesbian and whom he never speaks. He is a blunderer, because he is strange but human. Attempting to find relief from sex, he wastes his chances of stability, falls in love with a student back at university, looses his post and decides to go to live with his daughter, in the heart of the country. But with this he doesn't recovers that part of the dignity he lost with the fall of Apartheid. Trying to adapt himself to his new life, finds work at a vet shop, bringing dignity to animals by sacrificing the ill ones. Petrus, the black foreman of his daughter's property, will bring them both trouble.
In the new balancing of power of the new South Africa, where whites are no longer the dominant race, the original inhabitants are reclaiming their land. Coetzee makes it clear from the first chapter, specially the outscale of violence and theft. His daughter Lucy is finally raped, but she rejects to sue the agressors or abort her baby: it's the new South Africa, she recognizes in one point of the novel.
Disgrace is a wonderful depiction of life today in South Africa, and the book is somewhat a different approach to Apartheid than the one of Nadine Gordimer or André Brink. The title speaks not for the political/social problem of the country, but the disgrace of the human soul in a disgraced country. Although Coetzee's characters are very unsympathetic, they are all believable and real; flawed, as we are.
This novel won the 1999 Booker Prize in England and is praised as the author's best novel. J.M. Coetzee became the second South African writer in less than 15 years to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.


Senior Member
evadri said:
Hey, I've read this book! About two years ago. I agree with everything you've said about it.

Well, aside from a couple of lines, it's all fact so you can only agree with it. For some reason, probably time, this is one of those books that I read in 2005 but never did get round to reviewing. As a result of this I do feel I've lost some vital events in my memory but, overall, I remember Disgrace as a fine piece of fiction - an light read carrying the weight of the nation's shame between its lines.


Verkleefd said:
Disgrace is a wonderful depiction of life today in South Africa.

I live in South Africa and this is a school setwork. I don't agree that it depicts life here accurately. It's well-written though.