An old lady is told that she has cancer, it has affected her bones. She has got a daughter who is now living in the United States, far from South Africa, where she was born and where her mother is living now. The story is developed when Apartheid regime is taking place. The very same day the old woman gets to know about her illness and has a feeling of deep loneliness, she meets a black man, homeless, who has found a place to sleep in her property.
A close relationship starts between them. They are no friends, no lovers but they spend together those difficult personal and historical times. Through his fine and delicate narrative, Coetzee deals with the violence that takes place in South Africa during these times and with its impact on human beings.
This report prepared by Marta Garay
South Africa's apartheid shocks a retired professor, Mrs. Curren, when her maid's black son is murdered by police security forces. Mrs. Curren herself is dying slowly of cancer and she writes letters to her long-gone daughter in a day by day journal form (this book): after a life dedicated to books and culture, the recent murder she's witnessed has also opened her eyes to the horrors of apartheid, which in return is raising a counter attack of the black youth; they might be the begining of an 'age of iron' after the age of clay and stone that their slave parents were.
Mrs. Curren's depression turns into dead calm when she finds a beggar at her door, a man named Vercueil. He only wants food and drinks, but soon after he finds himself becoming fond of this old lady, finally promising to make sure that these letters to her daughter in America will be delivered after she's passed away.
This report prepared by Augusto Wong Campos