Books: Cries of the Displaced

A bleak but brilliant novel of South Africa

At the heart of South African author J.M. Coetzee's Disgrace (Viking; 220 pages; $23.95) lie two rapes--or rather, two scenes of violence, domination and utter disregard for humanity. And although rape is not the true subject of this book, with these parallel violations Coetzee has devised a subtly brilliant commentary on the nature and balance of power in his homeland.

In the opening pages of Disgrace, which has just won Britain's prestigious Booker Prize, David Lurie, a white professor of communications, assesses his life: "He is in good health, his mind is clear... He lives within his income, within his temperament,...

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