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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like a dog
Set in the early days of post-apartheid South Africa, this short yet intense novel explores shifting power and race relationships and white middle class insecurities that were an important facet of that period. Coetzee exemplifies the new conditions by concentrating on a few memorable individuals. He places his characters into complex situations with sparse sentences,...
Published on July 13 2007 by Friederike Knabe

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A hard read
What drew to this novel was the title and the fact that it was touted as one of eleven best books of the year by the New York Times Book Review. That's what drew me. What I was in store for, I was unaware.
A well written book by J. M. Coetzee--Disgrace, is the story of a man and his view of the world. The story takes place in South Africa, where David Lurie, a...
Published on May 31 2002 by Gisele W. Wright


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A hard read, May 31 2002
By 
Gisele W. Wright (Duluth, Ga USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Disgrace (Paperback)
What drew to this novel was the title and the fact that it was touted as one of eleven best books of the year by the New York Times Book Review. That's what drew me. What I was in store for, I was unaware.
A well written book by J. M. Coetzee--Disgrace, is the story of a man and his view of the world. The story takes place in South Africa, where David Lurie, a professor of Communications at Cape Technical University, is faced with his disgrace. Now divorced, he has relations with whores, faculty members, and a student.
His downfall is Melanie, a student that he practically rapes when he visits her home. He has no feelings but his own. It is as if something overtakes him, and he gives in to his impulses. Melanie leaves school and the faculty finds out about this affair.
He is ousted from the university and leaves for the uplands of the Eastern Cape to visit his daughter, Lucy. Lucy is a work of art herself. She owns a farm where she grows flowers and sells them in town. She also takes in animals and cares for them.
She is raped when three men come into her home. Her field hand, Petrus, knows of the men and David is enraged. He wants Lucy to turn the men in but Lucy says this is not the way of the land. She wants to stay here and survive.
She, like him, makes decisions based on her own disgrace. He would not tell the truth about his demise, and she decides to carry the child conceived from the rape. They both have to accept each other's decisions and move on.
As David has been on the farm a while, he has encounters with Bev Shaw, the somewhat vet in these parts of the world. She loves animals, but hates to put them to sleep when sick. David works with her and they have relations. He feels sorry for her and gives her what she wants. He has nothing left of himself.
This is a hard story to explain. I think when you read this story-you may perceive a different view. It was a dark, dark, story of someone who lives with loneliness and his concious is his friend. He has no friends to confide in, not even his daugh
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like a dog, July 13 2007
By 
Friederike Knabe "Books are funny little port... (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Disgrace (Paperback)
Set in the early days of post-apartheid South Africa, this short yet intense novel explores shifting power and race relationships and white middle class insecurities that were an important facet of that period. Coetzee exemplifies the new conditions by concentrating on a few memorable individuals. He places his characters into complex situations with sparse sentences, exposing the main character's thought processes and interactions with great precision. The beauty and peacefulness of the landscape provides a contrasting frame to the human turmoil. It is not a book the reader will put down easily or forget quickly afterwards. The story was awarded the Booker Prize in 1999.

Communications professor David Lurie, the main protagonist, has been expelled from his university following a sexual harassment charge. Not willing to apologize and explain himself adequately, he prefers to leave in disgrace. He also hopes to find time to pursue his great ambition: to write an opera on the romantic life of Byron. His affection for the Romantics and his Byron project in particular exposes David's wish to escape the realities of the day. Twice divorced and alone, he finds refuge at his daughter's small remote homestead. What does his visit mean - will he stay? How will he adjust to Lucy's rather unusual, though simple, lifestyle, running a kennel for dogs and selling flowers in the market?

Until now, David's contacts with his daughter have been sporadic and communication remains uneasy. He is suspicious of her friends and neighbours as well as of Petrus, former farm assistant, turned co-proprietor since the political change. While father and daughter adjust to their temporarily shared life, a vicious criminal attack leaves them both deeply wounded, physically and emotionally. What initially appears random, may in fact not be so. David is devastated and demands investigation by police and prosecution against the perpetrators. Lucy disagrees. It is better, she argues, to keep the events, however shattering, private. The political environment is not conducive to responding to his attempts at justice. His pain and despair only increase as does the distance from Lucy. She adjusts more willingly to the new conditions that see, among other things, Petrus demanding an ever bigger share of the farm and hold over Lucy's life. In the face of growing insecurity and dependency, her perspective is that they need restart with nothing: "No cards, no weapons, no property, no rights, no dignity ... Like a dog."

Coetzee's picture of post-apartheid South Africa is grim and its reality conflictual. He sees the situation for the white middle class challenged at every turn. His exclusive use of present tense in this novel, creates immediacy and continuity. The reader lives through the moments with the protagonists. At the end, after falling from grace and as deep as humanly possible, there may a glimmer of hope to rebuild for people like David and Lucy. A novel not to be missed. [Friederike Knabe]
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4.0 out of 5 stars Disgrace, Oct. 17 2012
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This review is from: Disgrace (Paperback)
this product took three weeks to get to me but thats what they told me would be the maximum, so it was expected, showed up exactly how they described!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous, Feb. 6 2005
By 
Sancho Mahle (Charlotte, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Disgrace (Paperback)
DISGRACE is an incredibly insightful story. With its and deep exploration of the relationship between father and daughter, Coetzee successfully brought out a story that is difficult to forget. The characters are rich and portray deep, though extreme emotions, rationale and impulse. Though quite understated and subtle, the writing is nevertheless rich in so meaning. There is everything to learn from this book. Coetzee's writing style is superb, the setting is ingenious and the pace of the novel is fast and absorbing.

In this novel, J.M Coetzee's brilliantly tells the story of the 52 David Lurie, a professor of communications at a Cape Town University, who is twice divorced and went around with the notion that having a woman is no problem. But when he realest that he is no longer alluring, he sought the convenient service of a prostitute, an arrangement that eventually came to an end, leaving him with no outlet for his virility. David Lurie finally convinced himself that an affair with a young female student was not bad after all and went for it. But then the complaint of sexual harassment turned his academic life upside down as he is fired. The unwritten rules of the society ensured that he longer found a place amongst them.

With that realization, David Lurie travels to the country side to a dangerous and isolated farm to write and spend some time with her daughter who ran an animal refuge and sold produce and flowers. Lucy as she is called is violated by thugs and with that David's disgrace became complete. David suddenly finds himself re-evaluating his life, his ties to people, his relationship with his only daughter, as well as his relationships with women. In all of those, he learnt that love is two-sided, a matter of give and take. In this novel one makes sense of the universally acknowledged fact that a man can understand who he is only when he comes to terms with his past. USURPER AND OTHERS, HOUSEBOY are similar titles that are hard to put aside after you start reading. Also found Triple Agent Double Cross to be a beautiful African piece.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Book, Oct. 3 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Disgrace (Paperback)
This is a terrific book. Beautifully written. Great character development, and also very insightful cultural analysis. If I may recommend another book it is "HE NEVER CALLED AGAIN." These two books belong on everyone's bookshelf. Happy Reading!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Problematic, May 13 2002
By 
Linda Hall (New York City, NY United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Disgrace (Paperback)
The prose is precise and clean, skillful, like a surgeon's knife. My take on this thesis is that for post apartheid South Africa to work, white people like Lucy will have to suffer and endure the consequences of racial punishment for centuries of oppressing blacks. For the professor, it might mean one has to start from the beginning, as a simple sentient being, like an animal, like the dogs he helps kill. Animals have souls, too, he realizes. And that's what he becomes at the end. The novel is Unsentimental, harsh, bleak. I buy it. What I can't abide is his character development. What an unsympathetic character. The author sees him as a sensualist. He's not... (Sensualists are passionate. He is not. He lacks passion, as he is described.) His sexuality is based on dominating women and exercising power. I found him cold and cynical and humorless. I couldn't believe he could love anyone, not even his daughter. I'd have loved to see the novel written from Lucy's point of view. She would have been worth knowing; she's more difficult; the choices she makes are powerful, ambiguous, complex. How she would have made a better omniscient narrator. Of course, it would have been a much harder novel to write. Too hard perhaps. But she would have made a more compelling character.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Critique of Modern, Rational Man, June 5 2002
By 
M. JEFFREY MCMAHON "herculodge" (Torrance, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Disgrace (Paperback)
Well educated, proud, rational, practical, David Lurie fancies himself a reasonable man, somewhat alone, but "happy" with his discretionary income and his somewhat comfortable albeit futile professorial position. He lives the life of a voluptuate, a sensuous predatory playboy whose life gets derailed during a sex scandal. Expelled from the university, Lurie must venture into the wildnerness and find redemption by developing a sense of community and empathy. Told in rigorous, spare prose, the novel is never preachy or boring. It is a lean masterpiece and very much worth of the 1999 Booker Prize.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A rare breed, April 2 2002
By 
"johnewark" (Hull, East Yorkshire, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Disgrace (Paperback)
'Disgrace' is the type of novel that only comes along occasionally but leaves a hell of an impact when it has finally finished tearing your emotions to shreds. Filled to the brim with disillusionment, apathy and anti-establishment politics, this tale will most certainly bring about the urge to drag that soap-box out of the cupboard but ultimately leaves the reader questioning themselves. Set against a South Africa that is still emerging from the near self-destructive political divisions that overshadow it this seems to be a comment on the ideas of responsibility and moral judgement, as well as generational conflict.
David Lurie is a 52yr old Professor whose academic and social career is slowly declining, reflected in his demotion from Professor of Modern Languages at Cape Town University College to the ultra-modern Professor of communications at Cape Technical University. A subtle difference it may be but it also reflects the growing boredom displayed by students in his seminar as he tries desperately to seek out the creative pulse within a decaying body. Twice divorced but with no shortage of desire, Lurie initiates a brief but invigorating affair with one of his students until he is outed by her father and boyfriend.
What follows this is vintage Coetzee as Lurie refuses to repent for the affair therefore whilst he submits to the 'legalities', his sense of morality remains untainted. Given the acrimony surrounding his conduct, Lurie leaves to live with his daughter in the sparse, rural area of South Africa. It is here that he discovers a totally different world in which urban prejudices are rejected in favour of strained harmony between the white and black workers. Whilst his daughter lives with her female partner, she employs Petrus, a black worker who is effectively trying to gain financial control of the farm. It is at this point that the dialogue and characters' interplay reflects growing tension and discontent which is the usual mark of a 'good' Coetzee novel.
As if he was lulling the reader into a false sense of security, out of the desert countryside come a group of thieves and rapists who attack Luthrie and his daughter. It is at this point that the different attitudes to 'disgrace' become apparent, when it seems that Luthrie's daughter cannot bring about any legal proceedings since the reprisals will be far worse. As father and daughter conflict the reader becomes aware that this could easily be a novel that is looking back at them, rather than us looking at the novel.
It's impossible to consider all the implications of what is, undoubtedly, a tremendous work of fiction. At times this is harrowing, other times pedestrian but the quality is always maintained and it is this consistency that has led Coetzee to two wins in the Booker Prize. I can't praise or recommend this enough and it's worth reading in tandem with In the Heart of the Country which deals with similar issues in an equally powerful form.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best Read, Feb. 28 2002
This review is from: Disgrace (Paperback)
It is the frist time I read a book as bleak as this,the characters so despondent,so helpless ,so complex and above all so human. The author portrays how easy it is to fall in the rut, to give up fighting and to resign to our fate.He makes us face facts and facets of human character we are not comfortable with.
The book haunts long after we have finished reading it.A must read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A masterful blending of substance, style, and message, Feb. 8 2002
By 
Matthew Krichman (Durango, CO) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Disgrace (Paperback)
In my short lifetime of reading, I have found that a good book generally distinguishes itself by one of three key elements: substance, style, or message. Some books are a pleasure to read simply because of their gripping plot; others because of the author’s gifted prose; and yet others because they make an important statement about society or human nature. It is rare to come across a book that masterfully blends all three elements together, and such a book is rightfully called not simply good, but great.
J.M. Coetzee’s novel Disgrace, recipient of the 1999 Booker Prize, is a gem of a book that begs to be read and re-read. It is tightly written, filled with meaning, and suspenseful throughout. In its short span of 220 pages, we develop an at times painful compassion for Professor David Lurie, a fifty-something divorcé in Cape Town, South Africa, whose more or less ordinary existence suddenly falls apart through a series of unfortunate events. First his successful career is threatened by accusations from a young student with whom he has had a brief affair. Seeing his professional life going up in flames, he retreats to his daughter’s farm for a short visit that soon takes on a feel of indefiniteness. But while he is there, the two of them fall victim to a violent attack, the consequences of which threaten to tear the two of them apart.
The novel is an unflinching examination of human desire and emotion. We follow David through his lustful affairs, his loneliness, his anger and resentment, and his stubborn defiance in the face of threat and opposition. And somehow along the way we find ourselves caring for this seemingly unsympathetic character. For despite his moral flaws, he is a character who holds to his principles and perseveres. And whether he is wrong or right in the reader’s mind, it is clear that his heart is in the right place as he struggles for what he believes is right.
On a broader scale, the novel is also a frank portrait of modern South Africa, a country riddled by racial issues in a new, emerging era in which old paradigms no longer exist and new models have yet to be defined. Coetzee depicts this phenomenon at a very personal level in his account of the seemingly cooperative relationship between Lurie’s daughter and her African neighbor who assists in the management of her farm. Despite the cordial ties between the two and the sense that they operate as equals, there is a thick, underlying tension throughout the narrative. While her neighbor outwardly displays friendship and caring, there is a persistent uncertainty about his true intentions and where his loyalties lie. And beneath the surface of their relationship, there are deep social issues that point to a society in transformation that is far from discovery racial harmony.
Ambitious, compassionate, at times harsh, and courageous throughout, this is the kind of book that reminds readers of what great literature can achieve.
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Disgrace
Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee (Paperback - Aug. 27 2008)
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