J.M. Coetzee’s literary tastes are decidedly Eurocentric and mid-century: His latest book of criticism includes appreciations of dead white guys like Bruno Schultz and Robert Walser. Those unfamiliar with such difficult writers shouldn’t be put off, though. Coetzee writes clear, focused prose and avoids academic abstractions and navel-gazing. But his work does have a multilayered quality that, to borrow a simile from another of his subjects, Günter Grass, makes reading it rather like peeling the skin of a ripe onion.
Inner Workings: Literary Essays 2000–2005
By J.M. Coetzee; Viking; $25.95