With the same electrical intensity of language and insight that he brought to Waiting for the Barbarians and The Master of Petersburg, J.M. Coetzee reinvents the story of Robinson Crusoe - and in so doing, directs our attention to the seduction and tyranny of storytelling itself.
In 1720 the eminent man of letters Daniel Foe is approached by Susan Barton, lately a castaway on a desert island. She wants him to tell her story, and that of the enigmatic man who has become her rescuer, companion, master and sometime lover: Cruso. Cruso is dead, and his manservant, Friday, is incapable of speech. As she tries to relate the truth about him, the ambitious Barton cannot help turning Cruso into her invention. For as narrated by Foe - as by Coetzee himself - the stories we thought we know acquire depths that are at once treacherous, elegant, and unexpectedly moving.
In Foe J. M. Coetzee has written a superb novel by reconsidering the events of 'Robinson Crusoe and presenting them from a new point of view....The human image in Robinson Crusoe is unforgettable, but limited: it is a man's world; women appear only as terrified anonymities, domestic servants in Cape Verde, or the honest widow in London who holds Crusoe's money for him....What Mr. Coetzee's novels imply is that every colonial society is caught between a past so seemingly changeless that it may be conceived as beyond time and history, and a present moment entirely given over to power, empire, history and the systems that further those interests. Dennis Donoghue