by: J. M. Coetzee
Published at the beginning of the millennium, J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace is a searing novel that touches upon and struggles with themes of gender, race, and power. Coetzee’s story is centered on David Lurie, who, at 52 years of age, chooses to retire from his position as a college professor after being involved in a nasty scandal with a student. Distant and adrift, he decides to visit his daughter in the South African countryside near Cape Town.
While there, he struggles with his daughter’s simple way of living, as well as resigning himself to the fact that his “little girl” is all grown up. The bond between father and daughter is put to the test during an afternoon of violence that shapes the rest of the novel. Both characters struggle with regaining their place in a world that has revealed the darker side of human nature.
Disgrace is a short and easy read, as Coetzee’s writing style is minimal and clear. However, do not let the simple style fool you; it is a raw, enigmatic, and challenging novel that requires multiple readings in order to grasp the full range of meaning. Disgrace will not disappoint, as it is a text that sheds light on many controversial topics in today’s world.