Slow Man

Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee’s latest novel, Slow Man, is destined to inspire mixed feelings in readers. The story begins as the main character, Paul Rayment, suffers a life-changing injury when his bicycle collides with a reckless teenage driver. The subsequent recovery period is described in voyeuristic detail as the protagonist discovers that he will live the rest of his life as an amputee. The plot thickens little from that point on, however. Rayment’s descent into disillusionment and self-pity continue unabated until he finds a stronger, even unhealthier fixation than his new disability. Coetzee’s latest work succeeds as a mildly stirring, intelligent meditation on self-identity in the face of disfigurement but may require exceptional patience for readers still coming down from a summer-thriller reading high.