One of the minor consequences of winning the Nobel Prize for Literature and of being a double Booker winner is that your publishers will bring out a collection of your book reviews and other articles, even though such things are nowadays usually considered to be unmarketable. This is actually the second collection of Coetzee’s essays and reviews to have been published, the earlier one – Stranger Shores: Literary Essays 1986–1999 – followed his first Booker Prize. The present book is made up principally of reviews for the New York Review of Books, with also a few pieces written as introductions to new editions of books such as Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock.
The essays in this collection fall into three groups. The first deals with writers old enough to have experienced the catastrophe of the 1914–18 war and the dislocation and ideological ferment of the interwar years. Five of them – Italo Svevo, Robert Musil, Bruno Schulz, Joseph Roth, and Sándor Márai