The Slow Man – J.M. Coetzee, Love Story Novelist

Winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature, J.M. Coetzee is a man of his kind, an engineer with his own tools. His novels were related to the real world, until he wrote Shame. With “Shame” he became the first writer to be awarded the Booker Prize twice. He then wrote his novels Elizabeth Costello (2003) and Slow Man (2005), the elegant fantasy. “Slow Man” tries to draw a line between fantasy and reality. In “Slow Man” the theme flows like a wide waterway. Here Coetzee attempts to define the territory where both fantasy and reality live next door, with common doors for entry and exit.

Writers who have keen insight into human minds and who have great empathy for humanity will hardly resist the urge to choose one set of morals or another. Although Coetzee in his own unique style does so in Slow Man as well. Paul Rayment is a retired photographer who must live a comfortable old age, one devoid of startling events. But even after turning to one late life, this old-bodied man, Paul thinks of his nurses’ smooth skin and graceful calves. Perhaps the art of growing old is missing from us humans.

We count our bank balances; We pay our bills on time, more or less; But we fail to address issues of vital importance to our lives, especially life after retirement—a period that can be the most beautiful mantra in a person’s life. In this case, one must have a clear account of what has been achieved and what has not yet been achieved. This is where the question “what” to really do arises. Coetzee winks at that area.

The protagonist of Slow Man is trying to find meaning in his life. He considers becoming a foster father to a boy named Drago who is the son of his nurse. He loves to love marijuana kids. Even he is ready to accommodate her husband in his life. The imposing presence of marijuana and its occasional absence expose him to his inner emptiness. He longs to fill in the gaps in his life.

This wave of emptiness is painful, especially in the later phase of our life’s journey. The traveler finds the road ahead dark. Literature provides us with some light in the dark. Great thinkers and their writings have developed literature to the level of religion in the secular section of the people. Keeping up with this movement to provide a basic education, Coetzee has carved out a stunning statement in Slow Man. He wrote a text message, A Letter on the Art of Living.

To read similar review articles on the novels and paintings, visit the following links.

Book reviews