Monday, February 10, 2014

J. M. Coetzee. Waiting for the Barbarians (1980)

      J. M. Coetzee. Waiting for the Barbarians (1980) This is a gloomy book, about oppression, “interrogation”, and the power of the State. Worth reading, I suppose, but I’m not in the mood for gloom and doom.
     Coetzee (pron. Koo-tzee) was one of the white South African anti-apartheid writers, which gained him an international reputation and a Nobel Prize (the Nobel Prize committee prefers tendentious writers who deal with serious themes, preferably political, which I think is a serious mistake). His fiction, what I’ve read of it, has a strong political tone, it is in fact more concerned with theme than with character, plot, or setting. This makes his work heavy going. I read some of his short fiction (perhaps excerpts from longer tales) some years ago, and my impression then was that Coetzee is somewhat fixated on cruelty. Not that this is a bad thing in itself, but his descriptions of torture and violence verge on the pornographic. The opening pages of this book allude to torture; I have no need of descriptions of torture, however sketchy. I stopped reading on page 17.
     Odd fact: Coetzee is about two weeks younger than I am. * (2010)

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