Throughout its entirety there is always a measure of wrestling, and therefore impossibly hard to pin down in the order of boxing this novel Disgrace
into a neat and manageable package. I am afraid the book insists on speaking for itself. But I shall hazard a guess that many who have not read it yet have not for the same reasons I did. If someone earlier had told me in a review or in conversation that Disgrace
would surprise me with a continuous or repeating sucker punch, and consistently knock me out, I may have taken a look before now. But all I knew about the book before was it having something or other to do with an aging twice-divorced professor engaging in an illicit affair with a student more than thirty years his junior, and I have already read all about that stuff enough to last the rest of my lifetime. To discount the book in this manner is not only wrong it is stupid.
The language Coetzee uses in this novel is simple and direct. The story is straight-forward and runs at a smooth and quickened pace though never seeming rushed. What does occur almost spontaneously in the relaxed reading is a series of constant surprises in the plot, plot being something that interests me on occasion but never a necessary requirement to my reading. But I never could get comfortable for very long as it constantly thickened, evolved, or disintegrated. Of course, Coetzee would eventually return responsibly to the text until he had made a complete circle that did nothing on the order of making your head spin but instead cautioned one to engage in even deeper thought.
There was no whining social agenda in the book, nothing pathetically irritating and predictable, but relevant societal issues were always at the forefront. Throughout the novel some form of adultery, lewd sexual behavior, marriage, rape, relationship, abortion, homosexuality, racism, bigotry, intolerance, larceny, parenting, and love was always present but never made the issue or the main reason for the text. In other words, the reader was left to consider everything individually as they occurred and decide on which side to stand on or to ignore, but with haste as the turns came quick and cutting. It wasn't until the very end of the novel that I realized the extent of Coetzee's simple message and the rewarding pleasure I received in discovering it.
I have a tendency to take my time while reading anything, and typically enjoy a stack of six to eight books I read concurrently. However, this novel possessed me to such a degree I finished it quickly as it took precedence over all my other required readings of the day. I could not recommend a novel more to anyone desiring a sophisticated read with a good story that provides the reader with a great deal to think about regarding ones own life and how to proceed in the living of it.