Jeremy's Reviews > Disgrace

Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee
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Feb 09, 2011

bookshelves: african-fiction

On the surface, it reminds me of Roth's "The Human Stain" a lot. Here we have another disgraced, aging, academic Lothario trying to come to grips with a shift in racial/cultural dynamics which leaves the older generation looking, if not bigoted, then just bizarre and antiquated. And yet for how cool and distant Coetzee's tone is, this book seemed to me much more personal, much more intensely felt than Roth's. There is this incredible, unspoken sense of violence which permeates through all of Lurie and Lucy's interactions. They're not exactly masochists, at last not in the simple sense. But they certainly seem to enjoy emotionally hurting and being able to hurt themselves/each other/the world, what have you. I know nothing about modern South Africa aside from the token lecture on apartheid I recall getting in high school, but this book points at some historical wounds which seem to go much deeper than what little I know of the countries segregationist history. Disgrace makes me want to find out about that history, but it also makes me afraid of what could turn up.
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