A Conversation for The Bookworms Club Weekly Book Review

In the Heart of the Country by J M Coetzee

Post 1

Lucky Llareggub - no more cannibals in our village, we ate the last one yesterday..

Imagine spending your whole life in a lonely farmhouse in a desert wilderness with nobody but your domineering father and a flock straggly sheep and some speckled hens for company. Enough to drive someone crazy you might think.
J M Coetzee's novelette, or long lyric poem, call it what you will is written in a unique numbered paragraph style - a kind of counting down the days of the inevitable final crisis.
Tension is building up wonderfully right from the start. A few odd characters, like Hendrik the labourer and his girlfriend Klein-Anna, wander in and out of focus but throughout the spotlight always stays firmly on Coetzee's sunwracked spinster heroine and on her inhuman trials and tribulations.
It is indeed writing of the highest order, it has as I mentioned a poetic quality, a kind of haunting melody runs through in the background almost like a crackling radio slightly off-channel.
One disaster is heaped upon another, one crisis overtakes another, and it's almost all in the lap of the gods in the end. Can some miracle save the day? Or is there an inevitable bloody end awaiting Daddy's daughter. The white aeroplanes appearing in the sky may hold the answers, or then again they may not. Only time, that old devil will tell.
Read it and see why Coetzee won the Nobel Prize. But maybe not at bedtime.

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