Following on from recently reading The Sea, the Sea and Possession, I decided to pick another Booker Prize winner off my shelves. According to the Oxfam receipt inside, it appears that I picked up this book in Brighton back in April 2002, so it’s had quite a time sitting in my study unread.

Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee

The novel details the fall from grace of David Lurie, a middle-aged scholar of Romantic poetry at a University in Cape Town. Lurie, whose looks and charm are beginning to fail him, finds himself at the centre of a public scandal, the details of which he freely admits, yet his refusal to repent of how he has acted leads to him losing his job and his reputation. Lurie decides to take some time out to visit his daughter on her isolated smallholding, but things only go from bad to worse for him and her after he arrives. Although focusing on the life of one man, Disgrace is really about the changing atmosphere of post-apartheid South Africa. Questions of belonging, identity and power pervade the narrative, and it is perhaps not surprising that David Lurie’s life – like that of his country – enters a period of extreme and uncomfortable turbulence.

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