An eminent, seventy-two-year-old Australian writer is invited to contribute to a book entitled "Strong Opinions".
It is a chance to air some urgent concerns. He writes short essays on the origins of the state, on Machiavelli, on anarchism, on al Qaida, on intelligent design, on music.
What, he asks, is the origin of the state and the nature of the relationship between citizen and state?
How should the citizen of a modern democracy react to the state's willingness to set aside moral considerations and civil liberties in its war on terror, a war that includes the use of torture?He is troubled by Australia's complicity with America and Britain in their wars in the Middle East; an obscure sense of dishonour clings to him.
In the laundry-room of his apartment block he encounters an alluring young woman.
When he discovers she is 'between jobs' he claims failing eyesight and offers her work typing up his manuscript.
Anya has no interest in politics but the job provides a distraction, as does the writer's evident and not unwelcome attraction toward her. Her boyfriend, Alan, an investment consultant who understands the world in harsh neo-liberal economic terms, has reservations about his trophy girlfriend spending time with this 1960s throwback.
Taking a lively interest in his affairs, Alan begins to formulate a plan.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 240 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 06/09/2007
- Category: Fiction: special features
- ISBN: 9781846551208
Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.
Review by heff100
Coetzee continues his extraordinary wrenching of the concept of the novel. What he does with form alone, a dazzling display of technical skills, would make this essential reading. But of course there is more.Perhaps not quite making the impact of Elizabeth Costello, it is nevertheless arguably the most striking Booker eligible novel published this year.So why...? Suspect in truth one knows the answer!
Review by posthumose
A collection of essays running in parallel with a story about the young woman he hires as a typist from upstairs,done in the novel form. Fascinating opinions this man expresses on democracy, music, language, the race and immigration policies of different countries etc. Highly recommended.
Review by kgib
Much easier to read than the two other Coetzee books I've read (i.e. not devastating). Not among his best I'm sure, but I like the idea of a series of short essays interrupted and challenged by two characters. Interesting to get some Australian angles on the War on Terror era. Canada also makes a brief cameo when Coetzee references the election of the Conservatives in 2006.