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Richard EderJ. M. Coetzee's novel Diary of a Bad Year is something of a self-managed funeral, but a lavish one: mordant, funny and wise. Mr. Coetzee writes circles around any attempt to pin him down…Mr. Coetzee moves through the country of old age as if it were a fresh journey, this one traveling second class. As C. explores the place, he shifts from arrogance to anger to humility and finally to something like mystical acceptance. All this indicates what Diary does, and quite misses what it is: Mr.Coetzee somewhere close to his most serious, and having—and giving—lovely fun. I think of the childlike simplicity of late Beethoven on a profound return trip from profundity.
—The New York Times