ioplokon (ioplokon) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Book 1(?!?!): Foe, J.M. Coetzee

Hello folks! I'm getting a late start to this challenge, but I think this will be a really helpful motivator for me. The thing I'm challenging myself to do is to write reviews up of the books, so that I have a more substantial record of what I've been reading. Also, as someone who's going to eventually be designing quite a few syllabuses, it'll be super helpful to have reviews, summaries, and first thoughts written down that I can refer back to.

Foe is J.M. Coetzee's retelling of two Daniel Defoe novels, Robinson Crusoe and Roxana: A Fortunate Mistress. The story is told from the perspective of the "Roxana" character, Susan Barton, who arrives on the island with Friday and Cruso (in this novel, Coetzee drops the "e"). Much of the novel is told in the form of quotations from Susan's manuscripts and letters as she struggles with what it would mean to turn her story into a book. Throughout the novel, she is also haunted by Friday and his unwillingness or inability to communicate his story to her.

I really enjoyed this book - it's a nuanced & complex look at how speech and storytelling relate to systems of power & marginalization. It's not an easy text, but that's not too surprising since one of the central themes is about how to come into contact with the unverifiable. Also, for me, I appreciate this difficulty - since the book itself is beautifully written, the complexity and confusion that comes with reading it keeps you from being lulled into complacency. It's a great book, I think, for writers to read or for anyone interested in the relationship between language and power, and certainly gives you a lot to think about.

Cross-posted to my journal.
Tags: africa, fiction, literature, nobel winner, race

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