In The Heart of the Country by J.M. Coetzee (1977) 139 p.

For a 139-page novella this was a hell of a slog. I’ve always found Coetzee, for a Nobel Prize winner and a man very clearly smarter than the rest of us, to be a surprisingly accessible writer: his prose is crisp, clear and concise. In The Heart of the Country, his second novel, this is unfortunately not so. It tales place on an isolated farmstead on the South African veldt, the narrator a young woman whose father is having an affair with the wife of his black farmhand. The novel’s style has a dreamy, unreal aspect to it, often bordering on stream of consciousness, and it can be difficult to tell what’s real and what’s a daydream or a fantasy. I hugely admire Coetzee as a writer, but as I said, this one was a slog.

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