Publisher: Secker & Warburg
Length: 224 pages
About: South African lecturer retires after affair with student
Style: 3rd person
Where: South Africa
Refusing to apologise after an impulsive affair with a student, David Lurie, a 52 year old professor in Cape Town, seeks refuge on his daughter’s farm where a savage and disturbing attack brings
into relief the faults in their relationship. Pitching the moral code of political correctness against the values of Romantic poetry, Disgrace examines dichotomies both in personal relationships and
in the unaccountability of one culture towards another.
FOR A MAN of his age, fifty-two, divorced, he has, to his mind, solved the problem of sex rather well. On Thursday afternoons he drives to Green Point. Punctually at two p.m. he presses the buzzer
at the entrance to Windsor Mansions, speaks his name, and enters. Waiting for him at the door of No. 113 is Soraya. He goes straight through to the bedroom, which is pleasant-smelling and softly lit,
and undresses. Soraya emerges from the bathroom, drops her robe, slides into bed beside him. 'Have you missed me?' she asks. 'I miss you all the time,' he replies. He strokes her honey-brown body,
unmarked by the sun; he stretches her out, kisses her breasts; they make love.
"Coetzee has devised a subtly brilliant commentary on the nature and balance of power in his homeland. (...) Disgrace is a mini-opera without music by a writer at the top of his form. Its
bleak vision lingers, shattering any hope of a redemptive state of grace."
Elizabeth Gleick, Time, 29th November 1999
Not so good:
...The scenes of Petrus clearing his land, aided by Lurie, recall the passages in Foe in which Friday is set to work on the stone terraces, alongside his master. Petrus himself is recalcitrant,
unyielding: he is the rock on which the future will be built. Disgrace is a deeply pessimistic book. It may have made the Booker shortlist, but it will not win unqualified praise from Coetzee’s more
prescriptive critics in the South African literary establishment.
London Review of Books, Elizabeth Lowry 14th October 1999 for full review click here
About the author
J M Coetzee was born in South Africa in 1940. His novels include Waiting for the Barbarians (awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1980) and The Master of Petersburg (awarded the Irish
Times International Fiction Prize in 1995). In 2003 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. J M Coetzee lives in Australia.