It was a very bad year

22 06 2019

Diary of a bad year by J M Coetzee

An eminent, ageing Australian writer is invited to contribute to a book entitled Strong Opinions. For him, troubled by Australia’s complicity in the wars in the Middle East,it is a chance to air some urgent concerns: how should a citizen of a modern democracy react to their state’s involvement in an immoral war on terror, a war that involves the use of torture?

Then in the laundry room of his apartment block he encounters an alluring young woman. He offers her work typing up his manuscript. Anya is not interested in politics, but the job will be a welcome distraction, as will the writer’s evident attraction towards her. Her boyfriend, Alan, is an investment consultant who understands the world in harsh economic terms. Suspicious of his trophy girlfriend’s new pastime, Alan begins to formulate a plan…

It’s not his finest work by any stretch but nevertheless still extremely well written with the ┬ácontrast between the donnish author and the vibrant Anya providing the core entertainment. There is a lot of seemingly autobiographical material in here, plenty of political critique and amusing mockery of the writer. Worth a read, as always.

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