The Gulf newspaper, The National, has a profile on “the South African giant of contemporary literature” JM Coetzee in which, unsurprisingly, other people does all the talking. It also rehashes all the familiar controversies of the last few years around the elusive Coetzee (including his lack of overt political involvement during the struggle against Apartheid; the reaction to his novel “Disgrace” inside South Africa; his emigration to Australia, etcetera, etcetera). Which leads the reporter to an unsatisfying (for me at least) conclusion:
… There can, it seems, be no simple answers about Coetzee. Even as we approach him he slips away from us, into a hall of mirrors of his own making. Perhaps we must come to accept, then, that the many attempts to look beyond Coetzee’s writing to the man himself are misguided, that the most authentic Coetzee available to us is the one revealed ironically, hesitantly, and obliquely in his novels.