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Introduction by Peter Goldsworthy
She pouts. I was expecting more of a story, she says. It is difficult to get into the swing when the subject keeps changing.
An ageing writer fills his journal: he has opinions about everything. He is challenged by Anya, the smart, irreverent young woman he hires to type his notes. Anya’s boyfriend scorns the writer and schemes against him.
With its three simultaneous voices, Diary of a Bad Year is not only a novel about loneliness, friendship and the possibility of love, it changes the logic of reading itself.
‘So unexpectedly, marvellously moving.’
‘A ravishingly beautiful book, made up of the most ordinary things in the world… In his smallest jotting on the page Coetzee is a master we scarcely deserve.’
‘The miracle of this book is that it is deeply involving, wryly funny, and perfectly easy to read, even when the bifurcated narrative splits into three…Diary is nimble, at times frisky…there is a sense of mischief about it.’
‘Abandon all normal expectations of a novel or of non-fiction and experience it rather as music or theatre, or as a long, intellectually demanding poem, or even as a large, complex painting.’
‘Do not miss this book, which reads almost like a man saying goodbye…Diary of a Bad Year is a brilliant piece of writing… and unlike most of Coetzee’s work, it has what can only be called a happy ending, something hard-won, touching and transforming.’
‘Diary of a Bad Year proves that Coetzee remains the master of the brutal, the unpoetic, the relentlessly real.’
‘An intellectual choose-your-own-adventure book.’