Monday, July 18, 2011

Five best books: cruelty in fact and fiction

Adam Ross is the author of the novel Mr. Peanut and a new collection of short stories, Ladies and Gentlemen.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of books on cruelty in fact and fiction, including:
by J.M. Coetzee (1999)

In post-apartheid South Africa, this novel's protagonist, a professor named David Lurie, flees to his daughter Lucy's farm to escape the scandal provoked by his affair with a student. After years of disaffection, David and Lucy enjoy a rapprochement. But after an attack in which Lucy is sexually assaulted, they are forced to re-examine their relationships with both each other and their homeland. J.M. Coetzee is insightful about the violence at the heart of male sexuality and about the unbridgeable distance between parents and children. Finally, though, "Disgrace" is a meditation on cruelty, whether that inflicted by state-sponsored apartheid or by South Africans reclaiming their country or by the owners of the animals rescued by the shelter where David volunteers. Despite cruelty's depredations, though, Coetzee ultimately shows us that a path to redemption can be found.
Read about the other books on the list.

Disgrace also appears on Ian Holding's top ten list of books that teach us about southern Africa and among Yann Martel's five favorite books and T.C. Boyle's four favorite books to turn to for comfort; it is one of Vendela Vida's favorite books of the last ten years.

--Marshal Zeringue