Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee

JM Coetzee's 1999 Booker Prize winner Disgrace is a simply told story with a powerful message, and worthy of the accolades it has received.

I expected something special from Disgrace, which is an exploration of racial politics in post-apartheid South Africa, but I find that I have a lot less to say about this book than I expected.

David Lurie is a middle aged divorced bachelor who finds himself unceremoniously out of his university teaching job following an affair with a student. He is a wretched character, someone whom I found difficult to respect. Finding himself in disgrace, he goes to stay with his daughter Lucy on her country farm, where she grows vegetables and cares for abandoned animals.

Here, he finds himself and his daughter victim of atrocities committed against them in a home invasion and they both struggle to deal with the consequences in their different ways.

David cannot come to terms with the events that have had such an impact on their lives, particularly Lucy's. Lucy quietly accepts what has been done to her as the price that she has to pay for staying on the land that he white ancestors once so barbarically took from the original inhabitants of the land. This doesn't mean that she isn't a changed person by what has happened to her, but she is unwilling to move from her home in the wake of the horrible events. David cannot comprehend her attitude, urging her to move away for fear of further attacks.

Disgrace is about misery and reconciliation on a personal as well as a political level. Coetzee creates a depressing picture of a land full of hate and misery attempting to cope with political change and racial politics.

There is a lot more to say about JM Coetzee's Disgrace that I am not able to adequately discuss in this review.

For the first time ever, I am not going to give this book a rating out of 8 according to my usual practice because I feel so ambivalent towards this book and I really can't explain why.

Is this feeling of ambivalence unique to me? I would love to know what other people think of this well-known book.

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