There are books and books and then there is Coetzee!
As may have gathered I am a book worm – if that means one who will read anything rather than nothing! Of course, I do not have to do that often and I do not read indiscriminately – I am partial to fiction and travel – but also popular science, some biography, history etc..In the recent days I have read Sylvia Plath, Ratna Kalpish, Indira Goswami (translation of the Assamese original), Paul Doherty, Eli Shafek, Jeffrey Archer, MG Vassanji, Gopalkrishna Gandhi etc… How do I pick these? Some from reviews, some are familiar authors (Shafek, Archer) and others are random picks while browsing through a bookshop.
And following all these I picked up a JM Coetzee on my first visit to he British Council library. The author was familiar, I had really enjoyed the earlier books of his I had read, especially ‘Disgrace’. ‘Slow man’ was a book I had not read before. It’s not a happy theme – Paul Rayment is a 60 year old divorcee, a loner who has an accident and has one leg amputated. His relationship with the Craotian care giver and her family is the central theme of the book. The loss of the limb is symbolic of a deeper loss – a deep, introspective probing into the mind of a ‘loner’ – who recognizes that his very nature has led him to this state with no children, the prospects of facing ageing and death alone!! His inability to take the leap and grasp friendships that are offered, his rejection of helping hand held out to him by Elizbeth Castello, who enters unannounced into his life, is beautifully potrayed. You are with Paul all along the way, feel sympathy for him and yet understand his rejection – or almost do!!
Such ability rests only with a master story teller – and the sheer pleasure of reading Coetzee is paralleled by few others. Of course, Coetzee was the first author to win the Booker twice and is the Nobel winner 1993. He must have legions of admirers around the world and needs no endorsement from me. But for an avid reader, who reads the many books that come my way, it is a special delight when the book is a Coetzee!!!