Roxanne reviews The Pole by J. M. Coetzee
The Pole, the new novel by Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetzee, is a pensive stream of consciousness tale written from the perspective of Beatriz, a middle aged Spanish patron and administrator of a classical music orchestra. A serendipitous illness of a co-worker thrusts Beatriz into the hostessing crosshairs of Wittold, a Polish Chopin aficionado and renowned pianist.
In spite of her rejections to the pianist's affections (she is married, he is divorced), passions can not help but bubble. The fun is the slow burn of their chemistry mixed with the brutal honesty with which Beatriz views Wittold and life in general, with an eye of cynicism and oft times repulsion.
Coetzee works his magic here by giving us an unreliable narrator who you can’t help but scold and question. Yet in the end, Coetzee helps us respect Beatriz as a forthright woman whose prideful disappointments in life have been met with her deep dive into cultural work and philanthropy. Her dalliance with Wittold expands both her present world and her views on the afterlife.