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16May

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”.

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