Thursday, May 31, 2007

Disgrace by JM Coetzee

A Review

Title: Disgrace
Author: JM Coetzee
Price: RM 34.90

I finished this book feeling disgusted and annoyed.

This book won the 1999 Booker prize. It is widely praised but I really didn't like it at all. For one it is an extremely sad (*not tear-jerking sad, but loser sad) story about sad (*) people making sad (*) decisions, or NOT making decisions.

I can't tell you what the storyline is because I don't really know. There is the old itchy man, his weird unreadbale daughter, and assortments of other characters that consist also of a lot of short-lived animals. There's the "disturbing attack" (that's quoted from the book backcover) that is not as disgusting as the way the victims were coping with it. Apart from that the book is a morose story ambling along.

Was it a great book in terms of relating raw human nature at its truth? I don't know, or more like I don't want to know. I subscribe to the saying "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." If you don't have a nice story, then don't tell a story at all. Even sad, ugly stories can be nice stories, but Disgrace is a diffrent matter. It's ugly in a base way, it has no undertones of hope and love and all things nice. It has no tragic moments, no painful moments, no wonderful moments. Just ugly in a plain way. Or is that just plain ugly.

Did I come away enriched, with a new thought and perspective? No, just annoyed. Annoyed and disgusted and the kind of people who "flow" instead of taking the effort to make the best of what they have. Annoyed that an ugly story was written and that I read it. Look at the cover, it perfectly shows what type of ugly is inside.



I read it as it was on my 501 to read list. I've picked up the book at 3 seperate occasions and put it back on account of the mangy dog on the cover. So, judge a book by it's cover - if the story is bad at least you've enjoyed the cover.

4 comments:

bibliobibuli said...

there are several books by coetzee i so prefer. don't give up on him but try "waiting for the barbarians".

i loved "age of iron" .. and 'the life and times of michael K" was so brilliant - a novel about the inequalities in south africa under apartheid which didn't mention race or colour once!

if you are friendly with the owner of a certain bangsar bookshop, you could drop by and here him wax lyrical for an hour or two about why "disgrace" is the best novel ever. but i have to say it left me underwhelmed too.

sharkgila said...

I'm wary to give another Coetzee book a try, but I'll look out for The Life and Times of Michael K. It's going right at the end of my TBR list though.

Haha.. oh no.. I'd rather not talk about the book. Unpleasant taste in mouth.

sympozium said...

Try "Boyhood" which is quite readable but skip its sequel of sorts, "Youth"...

Apparently "Disgrace" describes in microcosm what is happening nationwide in South Africa- the old order of power has changed, and for whites to survive, they must do what the daughter in the novel does, in a sense...Coetzee stirred up some shit in South Africa with the book and then merrily skipped off to Adelaide.
"Disgrace" is still one of his more accessible books.

sharkgila said...

Thanks Sympozium. I roughly know the setting of the novel but I guess I can't relate to the situation as well as those for whom the setting is "real".


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