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An unblinking look at war
am 26. Juni 2000
A stunning novel but not for the faint of heart. Here are all the horrors of war, but presented on a microcosmic scale that doesn't allow the reader to substitute ultimately cold statistics (x million dead, for example) for the true havoc wreaked on an individual-by-individual basis. Statistics go down easier, and are easier to ignore; in contrast, the trajectory of the protagonist's life here is so heartbreaking as to be beyond sadness -- it changes the way you think about things. War is everywhere in this novel, yet nowhere; we encounter few soldiers and no battles, but the South Africa described here is ravaged seemingly beyond repair. It is nearly impossible to do justice to the merit and value of this book, and to Coetzee's razor-sharp focus; he says more in this short novel than lesser writers could with an ocean of words.