Book Review: Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee

At fifty-two, Professor David Lurie is divorced, filled with desire, but lacking in passion. When an affair with a student leaves him jobless, shunned by friends, and ridiculed by his ex-wife, he retreats to his daughter Lucy’s smallholding. David’s visit becomes an extended stay as he attempts to find meaning in his one remaining relationship. Instead, an incident of unimaginable terror and violence forces father and daughter to confront their strained relationship and the equally complicated racial complexities of the new South Africa.

Published in 1999, John Maxwell Coetzee’s Disgrace was awarded the Booker Prize. Also, four years after the release of what is, arguably, his best known novel, Coetzee was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Coetzee is, probably, one of the best writers who is tremendously easy to read. His style is “reader-friendly.” This means that you can read this novel over and over again without even realizing it.

Disgrace is a story about life. How, when faced with adversity, people choose to live. They want to feel alive, to fight for the right to be anything but lukewarm.

But what does it mean to be alive? What does it mean to feel as if you matter? As if you’re making a difference?

Does it matter what others think about you? The label that others have filled out for you?

Disgrace is a novel that makes you feel more human. Makes you understand love better, and the way our choices change us, how regret can destroy us, how honor, disgrace, life, and death are not as easy to discern as we’d like to believe.

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