Paperback: Inner Workings, by JM Coetzee

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Coetzee's essays on 20 literary heavyweights reveal much about the mechanisms of great literature. Occasionally, they suggest resonances that extend beyond book covers. His 2003 view of Günter Grass, "at pains to confront [collective guilt] not directly but sideways, crabwise", presaged Grass's subsequent Nazi confessions. But Coetzee's 2001 perception of VS Naipaul – "the feat of self-construction that he undertook during his third and fourth decades seems to have exacted too high a price in denial of the body and its appetites" – may require revision in view of recent revelations.