Antiphonal Fiction

Diary of a Bad Year
J. M. Coetzee
Viking Penguin, $24.99, 231 pp.

The South African writer and Nobel laureate J. M. Coetzee made his name in the 1980s with Waiting for the Barbarians and The Life and Times of Michael K, darkly elliptical fables that answered the oppressions of apartheid with a grim and comfortless intensity. Coetzee’s fiction typically sets global issues against tight personal dramas of loss, desire, disgrace, and aging, and probes vulnerabilities beyond the merely human. A concern for animal...

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About the Author

Edward T. Wheeler, a frequent contributor, is the former dean of the faculty at the Williams School in New London, Connecticut.