Diary of a Bad Year (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
With Diary of a Bad Year, J. M. Coetzee cleverly examines the ways in which people relate to one another, their immediate community, and the international community, by weaving together three separate tales to form an experimental and intellectual novel. Each of the three stories appears on the same page separated by a line, working together harmoniously throughout the novel. The reader is free to read each story all the way through in its entirety, read them one after another within each chapter, or read all three at once. While each narrative can stand on its own, reading the three together provides each additional background, depth, and substance.
The novel’s protagonist, J C, or Señor C, is a somewhat autobiographical representation of Coetzee. Both men were born and raised in South Africa, both taught in the United States, both reside in Australia, both are established authors and educators, and both have coincidentally written a book called Waiting for the Barbarians (1980). The similarities end there, however. Coetzee is well groomed, healthy, and a noted vegetarian, while Señor C suffers from Parkinson’s disease, has poor teeth, wears smelly and fraying sweaters, and eats meat regularly. Older than Coetzee, Señor C reflects upon his position in his later solitary life, lamentingIn public life the role I play nowadays is...
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2009)
America 199, no. 5 (September 1, 2008): 24-26.
The Atlantic Monthly 301, no. 2 (March, 2008): 104.
Booklist 104, no. 3 (October 1, 2007): 5.
Esquire 149, no. 1 (January, 2008): 19.
Harper’s Magazine 316 (January, 2008): 83-84.
Kirkus Reviews 75, no. 20 (October 15, 2007): 1065-1066.
London Review of Books 29, no. 19 (October 4, 2007): 5-7.
The Nation 286, no. 7 (February 25, 2008): 29-34.
New York 41, no. 3 (January 21, 2008): 94.
The New York Review of Books 55, no. 1 (January 17, 2008): 23-25.
The New Yorker 83, no. 41 (December, 24, 2007): 140-143.
O, The Oprah Magazine 9, no. 1 (January, 2008): 143.
Publishers Weekly 254, no. 37 (September 17, 2007): 31.
The Spectator 304 (September 8, 2007): 43.
The Times Literary Supplement, August 24, 2007, pp. 3-7.
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