Disgrace by J.M.Coetzee

I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars in Goodreads after a lot of thought. I say this because the writing was wonderful yet somehow I didn’t fall in love with the story. In all fairness, it is also possible that I completely missed reading between the lines. Its one of the problems I face when I read highly acclaimed works – the minute I start disliking them, I get the feeling that maybe I have missed something.


The Blurb …

A divorced, middle-aged English professor finds himself increasingly unable to resist affairs with his female students. When discovered by the college authorities, he is expected to apologise and repent in an effort to save his job, but he refuses to become a scapegoat in what he see as as a show trial designed to reinforce a stringent political correctness.
He preempts the authorities and leaves his job, and the city, to spend time with his grown-up lesbian daughter on her remote farm. Things between them are strained – there is much from the past they need to reconcile – and the situation becomes critical when they are the victims of a brutal and horrifying attack.

Like I said, the writing is brilliant and its enriched by the fact that David Lurie is in fact a professor of Literature. Here is one such discussion on Wordsworth


I also the way Lurie’s stand before the tribunal was phrased

“Manas, we went through the repentance business yesterday. I told you what I thought. I won’t do it. I appeared before an officially constituted tribunal, before a branch of the law. Before that secular tribunal I pleaded guilty, a secular plea. That plea should suffice. Repentance is neither here nor there. Repentance belongs to another world, to another universe of discourse.” 

If you are wondering why there is a dog on the cover, its because it is one of the central issues the book deals with. These parts make for really tough reading since the gruesome and inhumane killing of dogs is described in detail. I guess that is one of the “Disgrace” themes along with the more obvious ones outlined in the blurb.

None of the characters are close to being likable but that isn’t the objective here either so I won’t crib about that.

My only problem was with the continually shocking decisions taken by the daughter Lucy and her irritating way of communicating them. I’m not going to dismiss those decisions since I have no understanding of South African society during that period. But the way the decisions were presented wasn’t convincing at all.

If you have read the book, let me know if I am missing something. Especially if you have an understanding of South Africa.