by J.M. Coetzee (1999). Terse and engaging novel of a rather unsympathetic 52 years old, divorced academic, attempting to write the libretto for an opera based on Byron in Italy, in post-Apartheid South Africa. After having an affair with a student, he resigns from the university and moves in with his estranged daughter, living alone on a farm in the country. The aftermath of an unprecedented violent act, during which his daughter is raped and he is violent assaulted, further alienates him from her. As the power structure in the country changes, he fails to adapts. He ends up – out of compassion – putting abandoned, old or sick dogs down. The novel offers a bleak and meaningless view of life in which good or bad, much more the latter than the former, happens and one simply has to accept it. Coetzee has a powerful voice – the way he speaks of the disenfranchised dogs is overwhelming in its intensity. Yet like much of 20. century fiction, this book is not uplifting. Man has lost his roots, the universe is meaningless. Why is this century so much less capable than earlier ones of producing life-affirming art?