Winner, 1999 Booker Prize
Disgrace caught me by surprise. I didn’t like the main character; I didn’t like the events that happened in the book; but yet, as I turned the last page, I realized it was flat out brilliantly written. It definitely deserves its place on the shortlist for Best of the Bookers.
Before reading it, all I really knew about it was that a professor had an affair with a student. As it turns out, that’s only a minor point. The book has several issues: men’s subjugation of women, South Africa after apartheid, and animal rights. How Coetzee could say so much in just a little over 200 pages is amazing. There are several parallel stories going on. I want to say so much about it, but to do so would be to give away everything. I’m glad I was ignorant going into this novel, so I won’t say much except that it will definitely get a re-read from me someday and preferably in a group setting. There would be many, many things to discuss.
(1999, 220 pp.)
As to the film, I thought it followed the book almost exactly. It was produced by Australians but I believe most of the outdoor shots at least were filmed in South Africa; the scenery was beautiful. John Malkovich played David Lurie exceptionally. My only small quibble is that his South African accent went in and out some. I thought the actress who played Lucy was also excellent. I highly recommend this movie IF you have read the book. You probably wouldn’t appreciate it as much or at all if you haven’t.
Film grade: A