South Africa

Disgrace

“Set in post-apartheid South Africa, this searing novel tells the story of David Lurie, a twice-divorced professor. Lurie believes he has created a comfortable, if somewhat passionless, life for himself. Though his position at the university has been reduced, he teaches his classes dutifully; and while age has diminished his attractiveness, weekly visits to a prostitute satisfy him. He considers himself happy. But when Lurie seduces one of his students, he sets in motion events that will shatter his complacency and leave him utterly disgraced.

Lurie is forced to resign and flees to his daughter Lucy’s smallholding in the country. There he struggles to rekindle his relationship with Lucy and to understand the changing relations of blacks and whites in the new South Africa. But when three black strangers appear at their house, a harrowing afternoon of violence follows which leaves both of them badly shaken and further estranged from one another. After a brief return to Cape Town, where Lurie discovers his home has also been vandalized, he decides to stay on with his daughter, who is pregnant with the child of one of her attackers. Now thoroughly humiliated, Lurie devotes himself to volunteering at the animal clinic, where he helps put down diseased and unwanted dogs. It is here that Lurie gains a redeeming sense of compassion absent from his life up to this point.

Written with the austere clarity that has made J. M. Coetzee the winner of two Booker Prizes, Disgrace explores the downfall of one man and dramatizes, with unforgettable, vividness the plight of a country caught in the chaotic aftermath of racial oppression.”

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