Top positive review
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Raises questions, gives few answers
on 30 August 2009
An retired middle-class woman learns that she is dying from incurable and painful cancer. The same day a vagabond sleeps in her garden. The time is the final years of apartheid in South Africa. While the country and the manners of people are fallling apart, the human tragedies of blacks spill over into her house and the bumb becomes her unlikely companion. The novel is written as a letter to her long lost daughter who escaped the South African situation by moving to the US.
The story is deep, calm and questioning. The reader apparently learns something about what it is like to be in the shoes of this old lady. Her thoughts about death and living are not the same as those of Micheal K. or the Magistrate (Waiting for the Barbarians), but the whole style, open ended at times, belongs to this woman. J. M. Coetze simply seems to have a remarkable talent for empathy. With novels like this one he truly fulfils one of the main objectives of a novel: learning what it is to be another person, and here during times of critical contemplations.