Books like Life and Times of Michael K

Life and Times of Michael K

1985, J.M. Coetzee


Disgrace is a novel by J. M. Coetzee, published in 1999. It won the Booker Prize. The writer was also awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature four years after its publication.

David Lurie is a white South African professor of English who loses everything: his reputation, his job, his peace of mind, his dreams of artistic success, and finally even his ability to protect his own daughter. He is twice-divorced and dissatisfied with his job as a 'communications' lecturer, teaching a class in romantic literature at a technical university in Cape Town in post-apartheid South Africa. Lurie's sexual activities are all inherently risky. Before the sexual affair that will ruin him, he becomes attached to a sex worker and attempts to have a romantic relationship with her (despite her having a family), which she rebuffs. He then seduces a secretary at his university, only to completely ignore her afterwards. His "disgrace" comes when he seduces one of his more vulnerable students, a girl named Melanie Isaacs, plying her with alcohol and other actions that arguably amount to rape. Later, when she stops attending his class as a result, he falsifies her grades. Lurie refuses to stop the affair, even after being threatened by Melanie's erstwhile boyfriend, who knocks the papers off Lurie's desk, and her father, who confronts him but whom David runs from. This affair is thereafter revealed to the school, amidst a climate of condemnation for his allegedly predatory acts, and a committee is convened to pass judgement on his actions. David refuses to read Melanie's statement, defend himself, or apologize in any sincere form and so is forced to resign from his post. Lurie is working on an opera concerning Lord Byron's final phase of life in Italy which mirrors his own life in that Byron is living a life of hedonism and excess and is having an affair with a married woman.

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