Diary of a Bad Year

Diary of a Bad Year

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Description

An eminent, seventy-two-year-old Australian writer is invited to contribute to a book entitled "Strong Opinions". It is a chance to air some urgent concerns. He writes short essays on the origins of the state, on Machiavelli, on anarchism, on al Qaida, on intelligent design, on music. What, he asks, is the origin of the state and the nature of the relationship between citizen and state? How should the citizen of a modern democracy react to the state's willingness to set aside moral considerations and civil liberties in its war on terror, a war that includes the use of torture?He is troubled by Australia's complicity with America and Britain in their wars in the Middle East; an obscure sense of dishonour clings to him. In the laundry-room of his apartment block he encounters an alluring young woman. When he discovers she is 'between jobs' he claims failing eyesight and offers her work typing up his manuscript. Anya has no interest in politics but the job provides a distraction, as does the writer's evident and not unwelcome attraction toward her. Her boyfriend, Alan, an investment consultant who understands the world in harsh neo-liberal economic terms, has reservations about his trophy girlfriend spending time with this 1960s throwback. Taking a lively interest in his affairs, Alan begins to formulate a plan.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 240 pages
  • 158 x 236 x 26mm | 557.92g
  • Vintage Publishing
  • HARVILL SECKER
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 184655120X
  • 9781846551208
  • 388,286

About J. M. Coetzee

J.M. Coetzee's work includes Waiting for the Barbarians, Life & Times of Michael K, Boyhood, Youth, Disgrace, Summertime and The Childhood of Jesus. He was the first author to win the Booker Prize twice and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003.show more

Our customer reviews

<p>In J.M. Coetzee's <a href="http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/WEBSITE/WWW/WEBPAGES/showbook.php?id=184655120X">Diary of a Bad Year</a> an ageing writer, J.C., who strongly resembles Coetzee himself, finds himself inappropriately drawn to his young amanuensis Anya. Her partner, Alan, is none too happy about Anya's working relationship with J.C.. Anya is untroubled by what she knows to be going through J.C.'s head, but is somewhat perturbed by some of the things that he has written and that she has to type up for him.</p> <p>With his earlier novels <a href="http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/WEBSITE/WWW/WEBPAGES/showbook.php?id=0099461927">Elizabeth Costello</a> and <a href="http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/WEBSITE/WWW/WEBPAGES/showbook.php?id=0099490625">Slow Man</a>, Coetzee, one of the most brilliant novelists writing today, has shown himself to have a profound interest in the novel's form. <a href="http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/WEBSITE/WWW/WEBPAGES/showbook.php?id=0099461927">Elizabeth Costello</a> is a collection of philosophical essays just about holding together as a novel, as the essays we read are, nominally, Costello's own writings. In <a href="http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/WEBSITE/WWW/WEBPAGES/showbook.php?id=0099490625">Slow Man</a>, Costello arrives on the scene again to tell the principal protagonist, Paul Rayment, that she has invented him: a third of the way through what seems a (wonderfully written) conventional novel and Coetzee gets up to all sorts of destabilizing, metafictional tricks.</p> <p>In <a href="http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/WEBSITE/WWW/WEBPAGES/showbook.php?id=184655120X">Diary of a Bad Year</a>, the tricks aren't as disturbing, but the interest in playing with form is still highly evident. Most of the pages of <a href="http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/WEBSITE/WWW/WEBPAGES/showbook.php?id=184655120X">Diary of a Bad Year</a> are split into three horizontally demarcated sections: we read J.C.'s non-fictional essays; Anya's take on their relationship; and then J.C.s take on his deepening involvement with Anya and Alan.</p> <p>This clever structure, however, doesn't stop the novel being unsatisfying in a number of ways: J.C.'s essays aren't fully developed enough entirely to convince; and the accompanying story of the bizarre love triangle is too thin a fare fully ever to engage the reader. Coetzee's brilliance is never in doubt and this is, certainly, a must-read book (it should be read to see what Coetzee, a world-class practitioner, is trying to do with the novel), but it is at times an infuriating and frustrating read.</p>show more
by Mark Thwaite
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