Jarad Zimbler’sJ. M. Coetzee and the Politics of Style has a fascinating and innovative objective: to examine how Coetzee’s attitudes to his South African contemporaries shaped the development of his literary style. The study thus challenges notions of the usual suspects, such as Beckett and Kafka, as influences on Coetzee’s stylistic choices. In fact, Zimbler argues that the style of Beckett’s novels, though much admired by Coetzee – who wrote a Ph.D. thesis on Beckett’s prose fiction – has very little in common with that of Coetzee’s literary output.

Zimbler begins by noting that reviewers of Coetzee’s fiction have all used very similar diction to describe his style: ‘words such as vivid, taut and stark’ (p. 5), and his...

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