Set in post-apartheid South Africa, Nobel Prize Winner, J. M. Coetzees
searing novel tells the story of David Lurie, a twice divorced, 52-year-old
professor of communications and Romantic Poetry at Cape Technical University.
Lurie believes he has created a comfortable, if somewhat passionless, life for
himself. He lives within his financial and emotional means. Though his position
at the university has been reduced, he teaches his classes dutifully; and while
age has diminished his attractiveness, weekly visits to a prostitute satisfy his
sexual needs. He considers himself happy. But when Lurie seduces one of his
students, he sets in motion a chain of events that will shatter his complacency
and leave him utterly disgraced.
Lurie pursues his relationship with the young Melaniewhom he describes as
having hips "as slim as a twelve-year-olds"obsessively and
narcissistically, ignoring, on one occasion, her wish not to have sex. When
Melanie and her father lodge a complaint against him, Lurie is brought before an
academic committee where he admits he is guilty of all the charges but refuses
to express any repentance for his acts. In the furor of the scandal, jeered at
by students, threatened by Melanies boyfriend, ridiculed by his ex-wife,
Lurie is forced to resign and flees Cape Town for his daughter Lucys
smallholding in the country. There he struggles to rekindle his relationship
with Lucy and to understand the changing relations of blacks and whites in the
new South Africa. But when three black strangers appear at their house asking to
make a phone call, a harrowing afternoon of violence follows which leaves both
of them badly shaken and further estranged from one another. After a brief
return to Cape Town, where Lurie discovers his home has also been vandalized, he
decides to stay on with his daughter, who is pregnant with the child of one of
her attackers. Now thoroughly humiliated, Lurie devotes himself to volunteering
at the animal clinic, where he helps put down diseased and unwanted dogs. It is
here, Coetzee seems to suggest, that Lurie gains a redeeming sense of compassion
absent from his life up to this point.
Written with the austere clarity that has made J. M. Coetzee the winner of
two Booker Prizes, Disgrace explores the downfall of one man and dramatizes,
with unforgettable, at times almost unbearable, vividness the plight of a
country caught in the chaotic aftermath of centuries of racial oppression.
Salon - Andrew O'Hehir
In his sober, searing and even cynical little book Disgrace, J.M. Coetzee
tells us something we all suspect and fear -- that political change can do
almost nothing to eliminate human misery.
Boston Sunday Globe
Disgrace is a relentlessly bleak novel.
New York Times Book Review
The effect of the novel's plot is deeply disturbing, in part because of what
happens to David and Lucy, but equally because of the disintegrating context of
New York Post
J.M. Coetzee's new novel Disgrace, which last week won the South Afrian writer
his second Booker Prize is an absolute page-turner. It is also profound, rich
and remarkable ... is destined to be a classic.
People Magazine - Paula Chin
Disgrace is a gripping tale told with spare pose, steely intelligence and a
remarkable degree of tenderness.
Onion A.V. Club - Scott Tobias
as much hope as Coetzee can bring himself to offer, but Disgrace unfolds with
such hardened wisdom and assurance that its arid beauty sinks into your bones.
Dallas Morning News
Disgrace is an act of literature ... further proof that Mr. Coetzee stands with
the very best writers in the world today.
Wall Street Journal
The most powerful novel this year.
A slim novel with a bleak powerful story to tell ... Coetzee writes with a cool,
calm lucidity that fends off despair, and his characters find a kind of peace in
acceptance, if not hope.
The New Yorker 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
Written in deceptively spare prose that lets an eerie story unfold, Disgrace is
a revelatory, must-read portrayal of racial fortunes reversed.
Christian Science Monitor - Ron Charles
It may be that 200 pages have never worked so hard as they do in Coetzee's
hands. He's a novelist of stunning precision and efficiency. Disgrace loses none
of its fidelity to the social and political complexities of South Africa, even
while it explores the troubling tensions between generations, sexes, and races.
This is a novel of almost frightening perception from a writer of brutally clear
Book Magazine - Penelope Mesic
Disgrace is a superbly constructed work of pain and candor, and although it
involves events that require the largest generosity, it has as its hero a man
gripped by habits of petty selfishness.
Coetzee's eighth novel employs
spare, compelling prose to explore subtly the stuttering steps one man takes in
a new world.
To perceive is to understand in this
beautifully spare, necessary novel.
Sunday Telegraph (UK)
The kind of territory J.M Coetzee has made his own...By this late point in the
century, the journey to a heart of narrative darkness has become a safe literary
destination...Disgrace goes beyond this to explore the furthest reaches of what
it means to be human it is at the frontier of world literature.
There are few writers in English who equal this South African writer's hard
intelligence. Few are as philosophical, or as familiar with the language and the
mosed of post-structural and post-colonial theory...
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Cloggie Downunder unappealing Disgrace is the eighth stand-alone novel by award-winning author, J.M.Coetzee. After a short-lived, impulsive affair with a student, Romance poetry teacher, David Lurie resigns his position at Cape Town Technical University and retreats to his... Read More
Rated of 5
by Mr. Naval Langa The Graceful Disgrace A flower starts journey from the dust. The dust is sex for the disgaced David. The master craftman Mr. J. M. Coetzee transforms him into a full grown, aromatic flower at the end of the novel. It hardly matters it got Booker. It is one of the books... Read More
Rated of 5
This book was great. We were allowed to choose from an array of postcolonial novels in my english course and I chose this one. I have minimal complaints, and those would be that the ending was obscure and unrelated. A minor theme becomes the... Read More
Set in an unnamed time and place, Brodeck blends the familiar and unfamiliar, myth and history into a work of extraordinary power and resonance. Readers of J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace, Bernhard Schlink's The Reader and Kafka will be captivated by Brodeck.
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