The New York Times Book Review
Slow Manby J. M. Coetzee
J. M. Coetzee, one of the greatest living writers in the English language, has crafted a deeply moving tale of love and mortality in his new book, Slow Man. When/i>/b>/b>/i>/i>
J.M. Coetzee's latest novel, The Schooldays of Jesus, is now available from Viking. Late Essays: 2006-2016 will be available January 2018.
J. M. Coetzee, one of the greatest living writers in the English language, has crafted a deeply moving tale of love and mortality in his new book, Slow Man. When photographer Paul Rayment loses his leg in a bicycle accident, he is forced to reexamine how he has lived his life. Through Paul's story, Coetzee addresses questions that define us all: What does it mean to do good? What in our lives is ultimately meaningful? How do we define the place we call "home"? In his clear and uncompromising voice, Coetzee struggles with these issues and offers a story that will dazzle the reader on every page.
The New York Times Book Review
- Random House UK
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.03(w) x 7.75(h) x 0.55(d)
What People are Saying About This
Per Wästberg, in the Presentation Speech for the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature
Meet the Author
John Maxwell Coetzee was born in 1940 in Cape Town, South Africa. He is of both Boer and English descent. His parents sent him to an English school, and he grew up using English as his first language. At the beginning of the 1960s he moved to England, where he worked initially as a computer programmer. He then studied literature in the USA and went on to teach literature and English at the State University of New York at Buffalo until 1983. In 1984 he became professor of English literature at the University of Cape Town. In 2002 he moved to Australia, where he is attached to the University of Adelaide. Since 2002 he is also Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago.
Coetzee made his debut as a writer of fiction in 1974. His international breakthrough came in 1980 with the novel Waiting for the Barbarians, and in 1983 he won the Booker Prize in the United Kingdom for Life and Times of Michael K.
After "updating" Robinson Crusoe in the novel Foe, 1986, Coetzee returned to South Africa with Age of Iron (1990).
In 1999 Coetzee became the first author to be twice awarded the Booker Prize, this time for his novel Disgrace, in which the plot, as in In the Heart of the Country (1977), mainly takes place on a remote farm in South Africa.
A fundamental theme in Coetzee's novels involves the values and conduct resulting from South Africa's apartheid system, which, in his view, could arise anywhere.
Coetzee has also published translations and acted as a literary critic for The New York Review of Books, among others. Coetzee's literary criticism has been published in essay form in journals such as Comparative Literature, The Journal of Literary Semantics, and The Journal of Modern Literature and collections have been issued as White Writing (1998), Doubling the Point ( 1992), Giving Offense: Essays on Censorship (1996), and Stranger Shores: Essays 1986 –1999 (2001).
Coetzee's latest work, Elizabeth Costello: Eight Lessons (2003), is a mixture of essay and fiction, and some sections have already been included in other published works such as What Is Realism? and The Lives of Animals.
Author biography courtesy of The Swedish Academy.
- Adelaide, Australia
- Date of Birth:
- February 9, 1940
- Place of Birth:
- Cape Town, South Africa
- B.A., University of Cape Town, 1960; M.A., 1963; Ph.D. in Literature, University of Texas, Austin, 1969
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
Although I related to Paul's desire for privacy and some form of independent living after he loses his leg in a bike accident, I couldn't understand his obsession with the aide he hired to assist him and her family. And Elizabeth Costello's complicated presence and single-minded desire to get Paul to make any sort of decision with his life - when the two of them were strangers to one another - was baffling. Very abrupt ending.
The first quarter of this book is interesting. We follow Paul Rayment after an accident that leaves him without a leg. (This happens in the first few pages.) We're in his mind, experiencing what he does, following him through the few people who care for him. Then Elizabeth Costello arrives and the book goes downhill. She arrives from no where and acts as an authorial voice. She knows things she couldn't possibly know and she messes with Paul's mind. This interloper never develops. We're led to believe there's something mystical about her, perhaps other-worldly. I did not like her because she was neither a "real" character nor a true authorial voice. Coetzee plays with this technique--that Elizabeth is his voice in the story, but for what purpose? In places we find her asking the same questions we do: why doesn't Paul act in one way or another? Why doesn't he leave his situation? Etc. And nothing really happens. It's as if the author is begging his character to do something and he doesn't. I don't feel Paul has changed by the end, which is why I was disappointed. This story had a lot of potential.
Yes, I am getting old, so I did appreciate this novel. Twenty years ago I probably would have said "I don't get it." The story is good on the surface level and it is also a thoughful exploration of what to do with our remaining years. Do we fill them with life or hide away in our comfort zone?