In addition to being one of the most acclaimed and accomplished fiction writers in the world, Nobel Prize winner J. M. Coetzee is also a literary critic of the highest caliber. In this collection of twenty essays, Coetzee examines the work of some of the twentieth-century's greatest writersfrom Samuel Beckett and Günter Grass to Gabriel García Márquez and Philip Roth. Brilliantly insightful, challenging yet accessible, these pieces demonstrate Coetzee's sharp eye and unwavering critical acumen. Written with great clarity and precision, they offer a window into twenty immortal texts that will be of major interest to all readers of international literature, as well as to Coetzee's many fans.
That Coetzee can make such exotic eminences as Sebald and Benjamin less forbidding is a testament to his prowess as an interpreter but also to his charm as a companion. His erudition and analytic acumenboth considerable, to say the least, and best displayed in his remarks on the nuances of literary translationare so well dissolved into his elegant bearing that walking beside him rarely feels intimidating. And when, about halfway through the book, he leads us to the smoother ground of writers who compose in English and whom we've already presumably met (Faulkner, Beckett, Bellow, Roth and others), the stroll speeds up some and grows more invigorating…Inner Workings is Coetzee's master class, and he honors us, too, by letting us sit in on it, despite our spotty preparation and the hasty ways we may use it. Knowing something about W. G. Sebald feels a lot better than knowing nothingparticularly when the little knowledge one does have comes from a source as reliable as Coetzee and inspires one to make time to learn much more.