Lacuna by Fiona Snyckers review – a heavy-handed response to JM Coetzee’s Disgrace

This muddled feminist reworking of Coetzee’s celebrated novel fails to grasp his book’s ambiguities

Lacuna opens with an extremely peculiar author’s note. Fiona Snyckers informs the reader that her book is not a retelling of Disgrace (1999) by the Nobel prize-winning South African novelist JM Coetzee, but that it does have an “intertextual relationship” with that harrowing, controversial and much-garlanded novel. Lacuna will feature a character called John Coetzee who is “entirely fictional” and another called Lucy Lurie who, like her namesake in Disgrace, is the white victim of gang rape by black men but is otherwise “original and fictional”.

“I use the character of Lucy to explore the phenomenon of white feminism in South Africa,” she announces. For Lucy is “trapped in her own racism and unconscious biases”. She is “solipsistic and selfish”. She makes “flawed life choices” and “practises a shallow form of feminism that does not take into account intersectionality”.

Continue reading...


Sandra Newman: ‘Do I want men to go away? No’

The American author on feminist utopias, surviving the apocalypse and who is really responsible for ...

Read More >

Fix the System, Not the Women by Laura Bates review – a compelling insight into gender injustice

This clear-sighted page-turner explores systematic, everyday prejudice against women – not least wh...

Read More >

Very Cold People by Sarah Manguso review – a masterclass in unease

The American writer’s first novel applies her spare, elliptical style to a creepy coming-of-age tal...

Read More >

In the Margins by Elena Ferrante review – a window into the writer’s world

Four essays by the author of the Neapolitan Quartet reveal her struggles while developing her litera...

Read More >

Portrait of an Unknown Lady by Maria Gainza review – Bolaño-esque art mystery

The Argentinian writer follows up her thrilling debut, Optic Nerve, with a truth-twisting tale of fo...

Read More >

Leïla Slimani: ‘I think I’m always writing about women, domination, violence’

The French-Moroccan author on why she writes, the complexity of identity, and the first book of a tr...

Read More >