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Marie Arana…part confessional, part tease, a wholly trumped-up story in which a callow biographer sets out to get the true goods on the novelist…in the end, trying to parse Coetzee's novel about Coetzee is a bit like trying to pry open the goose that laid the golden egg. What does it matter what kind of man he is? Why should we care if he is cripplingly shy, makes love like an automaton, is unwilling to strike the authorial pose? Does it really make any difference to the art to know that the artist doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, doesn't eat meat, goes virtually catatonic at dinner parties; that he surrounds himself with high walls, routinely declines interviews, refuses to trot to podiums to accept a prize? As Coetzee puts it in this defiantly heretical novel, a writer is "just a man, a man of his time, talented, maybe even gifted, but, frankly, not a giant."
—The Washington Post