Dan Sandman

08: Slow Man by J.M Coetzee

In Books, Fiction on 20/02/2015 at 12:00 pm

Slow Man by J.M. CoetzeeThe South African-born novelist and Nobel prize winner J.M Coetzee (1940 – ) writes character driven fiction with an intellectual edge. His characters are often what might be called outsiders, those wandering souls who find themselves observing society from its fringes. People such as writers, academics, photographers or immigrants; dealing with upsetting events as they struggle with identity crises’.

Paul Rayment, the central character of Slow Man (2005), has had his leg amputated up to the knee following a cycling accident. Elderly and now disabled, Paul’s comfortable life has been upturned, leaving him in need of a professional carer. But whilst his physical needs are remedied by Croatian-born Mirijana Jokic, he begins to develop an emotional attachment that will have consequences for the care worker’s family life. Then, much to Paul’s irritation, the fictional novelist Elizabeth Costello moves into the amputee’s house unwelcome, handing out advice on how he should run his life. And finally, there is the handsome Drago Jokic, the young lad who Paul tries to adopt as a Godson.

I found this book more uplifting than Coetzee’s earlier work, which can often have a dark and disturbing tone. The inventive way in which the ‘Costello woman’ is introduced is pleasing, as are the character arcs involving the Jokic family. Slow Man is an easy enough book to read, and a story that reminded me of incidents in my own life. In other words, the characters are believable, and the insights offered by the author are learned and studied.

‘Another exemplary tale of suffering from one of the best writers of our times’ (The Times).

  1. sounds like a good read; I will add it to my list. Thanks!

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