Diary of a Bad Year: An Inspirational Novel
"And one is thankful to Russia too, Mother Russia, for setting before us with such indisputable certainty the standards toward which any serious novelist must toil, even if without the faintest chance of getting there: the standard of the master Tolstoy on the one hand and of the master Dostoyevsky on the other. By their example one becomes a better artist; and by better I do not mean more skilful but ethically better. They annihilate one's impurer pretensions; they clear one's eyesight; they fortify one's arm."
These are the last words of Senior C, the protagonist of this semi autobiographical novel by Nobel Prize winner J. M Coetzee. I just bought it yesterday at MPH warehouse sales. After reading it for three hours and finally arriving at the above paragraph, I felt like drowning in my own tears. The level of impact that it had on me is indescribable. As a writer, I could connect immediately with what Senior C (most probably Cotzee himself) is trying to say. In short, this is one of the most satisfying novel I have read this year; not as an aesthetical reading experience but more of an artistic inspiration.
It is of course not a masterpiece. The intellectual ideas that it present are stimulating because they are very much related with our everyday news concerning, for example, the fight against terror by America, the Blair administration, Bush, Harold Pinter, etc. However, if you put this novel in a time machine and sent it 100 years into the future, I’m sure readers in that era will not read it with the amount enthusiasm as we would.