Date: 06 March 2002
Here's a cheery tale. White woman in South Africa in 1986 dying of cancer, is looked after by black tramp she finds lying in the streets. Coetzee's big problem is that he always showing off his learning, his characters are usually Classics lecturers and he cannot resist dropping in a load of stuff about ancient greece. But he captures the grimness of south Africa, the complete moral and emotional despair of whites, and the big anger and problems of blacks, though he is inclined to be too censurious of violence, his white characters speechifying about its nihilism in a mothbally way. The pace is good, fast and readable, though the device of the woman writing the novel as a letter to her daughter in America, seems irrelevant compared to the strange mystical relationship of the lady and the tramp. The scenes in the townships are less sharp than those in the suburbs, one never feels a visceral sense of township life, we are distant like reading a newspaper. You read on undepressed by her death, waiting for the end, like white south Africa, knowing it will be over soon.
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