read: 23 September 2002
Maybe I’m being too sensitive here, but this is the second book I have read where a father has to suffer his daughter’s rape in two days. Coetzee is a masterful writer and his stories have depth that is almost hard to fathom at first glance. This book, set in post-apartheid South Africa, details a fall from grace of a university professor who then goes into the hinterlands to live with his adult daughter. They get attacked by people who may or may not be strangers and each has to figure out how to get on with their own lives, together or separately.
The story is rich and full of nuance. The Professor is an aging lothario who can’t help view himself in relation to his ability to gain women as conquests. His daughter has seemingly gone 180 on him and become an outback lesbian, now single after the departure of her partner. They have an unsteady alliance that is threatened when each decides to cope with the recent violent acts completely differently. I was not ready to read this book so soon after the massive gang rape in Clay’s Ark. I’m not sure if I would have had a different, likely more positive view of this book if I had.
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