ELIZABETH COSTELLO IS , like her creator, John Michael Coetzee, a novelist of world renown. She is also, rather like the reclusive, taciturn Coetzee himself, a fugitive. She is in hiding from the world and perhaps also from herself. We meet her in disillusioned old age, a lifetime of steady achievement behind her. She has reached that time of her life when everyone, it seems, wants a piece of her. She is pursued by journalists; she is invited to speak at literary conferences; her work, particularly her most celebrated novel, a recasting of the life of Molly Bloom, is the subject of continual academic scrutiny; and her opinions are endlessly sought on issues ranging from animal rights to the question of evil. All in a day's work, you might say, for a celebrity writer.
Australian-born, Elizabeth is a militant vegetarian: like Morrissey, she believes that meat is murder. 'I return one last time to the places of death all around us,' she tells her audlence at one of her many public talks, 'the places of slaughter to whlch, in a huge communal effort, we