Review: Lindiwe Mlandu
Most of us have read JM Coetzee’s award-winning novel Disgrace, which was published in 1999.
Coetzee tackles forgiveness in the South African context. A young white woman is gang-raped on her father’s farm.
Instead of naming the perpetrators so that they can be jailed, the victim chooses to protect them.
Following the rape, she discovers that she’s pregnant. She then decides to keep the baby and continues staying with the perpetrators on the farm. She sees herself as the sacrificial lamb for white people post 1994.
Now, Fiona Snyckers has written a book criticising Disgrace. Fiona, who is a feminist, finds Disgrace to be written from the perspective of a white male gaze. She questions the use of a female to “wash off” sins of the apartheid era.
In her critique, she says Coetzee’s biggest mistake was using rape as a metaphor. She finds his portrayal of the meek rape victim problematic.
Lacuna is written from the perspective of Lucy Lurie. Lucy is filled with rage following the gang-rape. She doesn’t know whether to identify as a survivor or victim. She’s battling with post-traumatic stress disorder.
The book tackles issues such as lack of access to justice, inequality and the daily challenges of South Africans trying to live side by side despite our traumatic past.
As much as rape is a heavy topic, there are light moments.
Fiona is a brilliant writer, who weaves together a tragic story, while reflecting on whiteness in general.