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Disgrace [Hardcover]

3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 205 pages
  • Publisher: Folio Society (2011)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DR42FCW
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)

More About the Author

J.M. Coetzee's work includes Waiting For the Barbarians, Life & Times of Michael K, Boyhood, Youth, Disgrace and Diary of a Bad Year. He was the first author to win the Booker Prize twice and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003.

Product Description

Illustrations by Andrew Gibson

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully tragic 29 Oct 2009
It is interesting to read the reactions to Disgrace and particularly to its two main characters David Lurie and his daughter Lucy. Most readers seem to have a very poor opinion of Lurie and even those who do not overtly dislike him appear to agree that he is self-obsessed and/or some kind of sexual deviant. Surely it is closer to the truth to say that he is among the most genuinely realistic middle-aged male characters ever created. He is admittedly driven by some selfish instincts but is that not true of all people? Is Lurie not in fact a more admirable person because he understands himself, his desires and impulses? To criticise him is to criticise human-kind, well maybe man-kind and that is perhaps why some people find him so uncomfortable to read. His attitudes towards women form one of the novel's central tensions, the age-old struggle between the sexes. He is not unkind or unpleasant to the women in his life, quite the reverse usually, but he does, to an extent objectify and pursue them, like many men. Coetzee does not try to tell us whether this is right or wrong he simply presents it as fact and gives us the opportunity to think about it, to compare it with our own lives and to try to make sense of it.

In exactly the same way he invites us to consider Lucy's attitude as a white South African woman towards her black male attackers. To some people, including her father, her attitude is inexplicable. Instead of hating and seeking revenge she accepts the offence as some kind of inevitable consequence of the years of apartheid and simply refuses to even criticise her assailants. In complete contrast to her father's instinctive id driven life, she deeply feels the collective sins of her race and is anxious to atone for them.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good writing perhaps, but hardly a great novel 4 July 2010
This is one of the best Booker-prize winners I've read, but that's not saying much. I like Coetzee's writing, but only in a take-it-or-leave-it kind of way; I've never found his books very involving for some reason, a bit too dry, too short of real emotion. This one is no exception.
We have the usual Coetzee themes here, a sort of existentialist look at the struggle that is life. Set in post-apartheid South Africa, a university professor is forced to resign after seducing one of his students and goes to live with his daughter in the country; they suffer at the hands of robbers, life is a struggle (but he still finds a woman to have sex with). C'est la vie.
The bleakness of the story and the unpleasantness of the main character make it a difficult book to like, and we also have to put up with some tedious and seemingly irrelevant stuff about Byron, the subject of an opera that the professor is trying to write.
Although partially redeemed by good writing, I fail to grasp why this book is so highly rated. I get the impression that Coetzee is one of those writers, like Philip Roth, that some male readers of a certain type (they always seem to be male) feel they must praise regardless. Or perhaps I'm just missing something.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reminded me of Hemingway at his best... 25 Feb 2014
Disgrace is both simple and difficult. Simply beautiful in its careful but sparse prose. Difficult as it wrestles with harsh and shocking realities in 1990s South Africa. This is a relatively short novel, and yet it deals with big issues. Its narrative and meaning are clear yet complex, and arguably none of the characters are as clear cut as fictional characters tend to be, but rather they are the multi-faceted and ambiguous characters of our mixed-up real world. Disturbing at times, this is a wonderful piece of writing richly deserving of being a winner of the Booker Prize.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A plea on behalf of humanity 3 Jan 2013
For me, the most intriguing and beguiling aspect of this novel is not the apparently controversial picture it paints of post-apartheid South Africa but the skill with which Coetzee draws us into a deepening understanding of, and sympathy with, his disgraced anti-hero David Lurie's relationships with women. All but one of these women are , at best, two dimensional ~ ex-wife Rosalind, rabid feminist power-woman Rassool, part-time prostitute Soraya, animal lover Bev, lesbian Helen, and of course, the naive victim Melanie. These women are caricatures not because of any limitations in Coetzee's skill as a writer but because we are only allowed to see them through Lurie's eyes. We are invited to share the strength of Lurie's emotional responses to these women ~ boredom, anger, duty, lust irritation ~ which, like the women themselves, are strongly felt but lack any real depth. Lucy, Lurie's daughter is the only woman with whom Lurie has a complex relationship,the only woman whom Lurie loves unconditionally and the only woman who is fully drawn. It is by no means incidental that he is prevented from defending her violation because he is locked in a toilet.....such a dismissive cruelty by the author. Reduced in the end to accepting a relationship of "visitorship" with his daughter, Lurie attempts to pour all of his inarticulate feelings about love and loss into an opera but only succeeds in retreating into a bathetic fantasy world where the cries of his operatic creation Theresa for her dead lover Byron are accompanied by the plinking of a toy banjo. After the first few pages of this novel I disliked Lurie intensely...ah yes, I thought, I know what sort of character he is, I have him taped. Towards the end of the novel I realised that in being so quick to dismiss, to define, to pigeon-hole and to caricature, I had done exactly what I had been so critical of Lurie for doing. And at the very end I recognised that his flaws are a pre-condition of his humanity.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars A disgrace. Despair
Have just encountered someone who loved this book as much as I detested it so it may be my view isn't relevant.

I'll read more JMC to be more versed to comment. Read more
Published 15 days ago by .
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely awful
This book has been scanned in and is full of errors. I returned it straight away and am looking forward to my refund.
Published 1 month ago by Bukowski
5.0 out of 5 stars Complex and multi-layered
Disgrace, by J.M. Coetzee
This is a book I would have avoided on seeing its bleak cover, had it not been required reading for the course I was doing. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Suzanne Egerton
5.0 out of 5 stars Read again and again
Though disturbing in events and theme, Coetzee's novel in highly engaging and thought provoking, and one I return to again and again.
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it
We studied this book in class and it really interested me as it is a very controversial book. Very well written and is about modern day culture. Read more
Published 4 months ago by holly
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrifying
A terrifying book. Shying away from nothing about the problems of man or the problems of Africa at the time. It is an amazing feat to have communicated so much on so few pages.
Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Unlikely human reactions
My partner and I each have turns to pick the next book we're going to read - this was his choice. He loves the book; I tried to find what he likes so much in the book but for me... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jenny
3.0 out of 5 stars A strange read
There isn't a character to admire in this novel. Is that the point? It's pretty bleak and you want to scream at the protagonist most if the time. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Peter Groves
3.0 out of 5 stars A book that does not live up to its rave reviews on its cover
The reviews on the cover of this book, if to be believed, suggest that it is a masterpiece, indeed, "perhaps the best novel to carry off the Booker in a decade. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Sally Walker
5.0 out of 5 stars Disgrace
Disgrace is a brilliant book by a brilliant writer. You only have to read the very first sentence to appreciate the writing quality. It's funny, serious, engaging, etc. Read more
Published 7 months ago by David
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