Disgrace

Front Cover
Penguin, 2000 - Fiction - 220 pages
110 Reviews
Set in post-apartheid South Africa, J. M. Coetzee's searing novel tells the story of David Lurie, a twice divorced, 52-year-old professor of communications and Romantic Poetry at Cape Technical University. Lurie believes he has created a comfortable, if somewhat passionless, life for himself. He lives within his financial and emotional means. Though his position at the university has been reduced, he teaches his classes dutifully; and while age has diminished his attractiveness, weekly visits to a prostitute satisfy his sexual needs. He considers himself happy. But when Lurie seduces one of his students, he sets in motion a chain of events that will shatter his complacency and leave him utterly disgraced.

Lurie pursues his relationship with the young Melaniewhom he describes as having hips “as slim as a twelve-year-old's”obsessively and narcissistically, ignoring, on one occasion, her wish not to have sex. When Melanie and her father lodge a complaint against him, Lurie is brought before an academic committee where he admits he is guilty of all the charges but refuses to express any repentance for his acts. In the furor of the scandal, jeered at by students, threatened by Melanie's boyfriend, ridiculed by his ex-wife, Lurie is forced to resign and flees Cape Town for his daughter Lucy's smallholding in the country. There he struggles to rekindle his relationship with Lucy and to understand the changing relations of blacks and whites in the new South Africa. But when three black strangers appear at their house asking to make a phone call, a harrowing afternoon of violence follows which leaves both of them badly shaken and further estranged from one another. After a brief return to Cape Town, where Lurie discovers his home has also been vandalized, he decides to stay on with his daughter, who is pregnant with the child of one of her attackers. Now thoroughly humiliated, Lurie devotes himself to volunteering at the animal clinic, where he helps put down diseased and unwanted dogs. It is here, Coetzee seems to suggest, that Lurie gains a redeeming sense of compassion absent from his life up to this point.

Written with the austere clarity that has made J. M. Coetzee the winner of two Booker Prizes, Disgrace explores the downfall of one man and dramatizes, with unforgettable, at times almost unbearable, vividness the plight of a country caught in the chaotic aftermath of centuries of racial oppression.

  

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Impossible to summarize the many threads of the plot. - LibraryThing
His prose is tight and evocative. - LibraryThing
Vivid storytelling and probably Coetzee's best book. - LibraryThing
Good. But the writing. - LibraryThing
The ending is the final act of dis-grace. - LibraryThing
His writing is brilliant, moving, and powerful. - LibraryThing

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Seven.Stories.Press - LibraryThing

When I was in grad school for my first M.A., not a week went by during which someone didn't come up to me after class and say, "I just read this book by J.M. Coetzee and there's some animal stuff in ... Read full review

Lingers on

User Review  - Devaiah Bopanna - Flipkart

The words don't do much. The story, for the most part, is predictable. The plot doesn't 'wow' you. The characters are very everyday; nobody extraordinary. But the magic doesn't lie in the book. What ... Read full review

All 8 reviews »

Selected pages

Contents

Section 1
1
Section 2
11
Section 3
18
Section 4
29
Section 5
36
Section 6
47
Section 7
59
Section 8
68
Section 13
113
Section 14
123
Section 15
136
Section 16
147
Section 17
151
Section 18
163
Section 19
175
Section 20
187

Section 9
80
Section 10
88
Section 11
100
Section 12
106
Section 21
196
Section 22
206
Section 23
213
Copyright

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About the author (2000)

Born in Cape Town, South Africa, on February 9, 1940, John Michael Coetzee studied first at Cape Town and later at the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a Ph.D. degree in literature. In 1972 he returned to South Africa and joined the faculty of the University of Cape Town. His works of fiction include Dusklands, Waiting for the Barbarians, which won South Africa's highest literary honor, the Central News Agency Literary Award, and the Life and Times of Michael K., for which Coetzee was awarded his first Booker Prize in 1983. He has also published a memoir, Boyhood: Scenes From a Provincial Life, and several essays collections. He has won many other literary prizes including the Lannan Award for Fiction, the Jerusalem Prize and The Irish Times International Fiction Prize. In 1999 he again won Britain's prestigious Booker Prize for Disgrace, becoming the first author to win the award twice in its 31-year history. In 2003, Coetzee was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

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