Inner Workings, by J M Coetzee

Justin Cartwright in The Independent:

CoetzeeInner Workings is a collection of essays, mostly from the New York Review of Books, to which J M Coetzee has been a frequent and heavyweight contributor. It is literary criticism of the highest order. And the title is apt, because what Coetzee does is never superficial or opportunist; this is a close examination of the way the writers he is discussing work, and the historical and cultural context in which they work, and it is informed by a breathtakingly wide understanding of their influences and preoccupations.

It is also, and I found this fascinating, an insight into the way Coetzee’s mind works, the themes which interest him most, and the writers who have influenced him in one way and another. In almost all these essays, which range from Italo Svevo to Saul Bellow – 21 in all – I found some significant clues to what Coetzee values, and indeed, I feel I now have a far better understanding of his novel, the rather gnomic, Slow Man, because of his essay on Philip Roth. Of course his earlier essays on Franz Kafka give other, more obvious, clues.

More here.