Getting Past Coetzee

A winning piece written by a South African academic working in the shadow of the Booker-winning author.

Financial Times | 28 December 2012.

Ebook | (Vintage Digital)

There remains the matter of getting past Coetzee. Dusklands (1974).

There is an odd made-for-television documentary from 1997 which shows footage of JM Coetzee conducting a guided tour of Cape Town’s southern suburbs. From the slopes of Table Mountain he points out the hospital where he was born; the suburb of Plumstead where he lived as a young boy; the university campus where he spent much of his academic career. A colleague recalls how Coetzee would not take calls from the Booker prize committee because he was invigilating undergraduate exams: a measure of his professionalism. We visit his Standard Three classroom at Rosebank Primary and the grassy common where he participated in school sports days. He recalls taking gold in the running backwards race of 1948, as if enjoying a wry joke at the expense of anyone who thought that such an exercise might grant some privileged insight into his work... [Continue reading...]       

[Read as PDF: Page 1| Page 2 ]

Bodley Head / Financial Times Essay Prize | 2012.

Simon Schama | Long-form writing is alive and kicking.

First published in Bokvennen litterært magasin | Oslo | nr. 3.12

These somewhat unfair thoughts are stirred by Disgrace, which is a very good novel, almost too good a novel...It sometimes reads as if it were the winner of an exam whose challenge was to create the perfect specimen of a very good contemporary novel.

James Wood, ‘Coetzee's Disgrace: A Few Skeptical Thoughts’, The Irresponsible Self (2004).