The over 900 pages of 'Shantaram' proved too daunting for most last month although those that read it found it fascinating. 'Amsterdam' provoked plenty of discussion, especially from those who had a "Molly' of their own in the past!
This month the books should prove more manageable. "Gould's Book of Fish' by Richard Flanagan and 'Disgrace' by J. M. Coetzee.
'Gould's Book of Fish' is a highly original novel. According to the blurb on the cover -
'Once upon a time that was called 1828, before all fishes in the sea and all living things were destroyed, there was a man called William Buelow Gould, a white convict who fell in love with a black woman and discovered too late that love is not safe. Silly Billy Gould, invader of Australia, liar, murderer & forger, condemned to the most feared penal colony in the British Empire and there ordered to paint a book of fish.'
According to the Observer the book is 'Ferocious in its anger, grotesque, sexy, funny, violent, startlingly beautiful and above all, heartbreakingly sad'.
'Disgrace' is the story of a South African professor of English descent who loses everything: his reputation, his job, his peace of mind, his good looks, his dreams of artistic success, and finally even his ability to protect his cherished daughter.
According to the London Review of Books "Disgrace is the best novel Coetzee has written. It is a chilling, spare book, the work of a mature writer who has refined his textual obsessions to produce an exact, effective prose and condensed his thematic concern with authority into a deceptively simple story of family life. Half campus novel, half anti-pastoral, it begins quietly enough in Cape Town. (....) As so often in Coetzee's fiction, the characters in Disgrace have a metonymic or symbolic function."