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Fiction Friday: JM Coetzee’s Dutch Treat: “The Old Woman and the Cats” in Amsterdam

JM Coetzee

Summertime Today we have a clip of Summertime author JM Coetzee reading “The Old Woman and the Cats”, an Elizabeth Costello-themed “lesson”. The reading took place at the “Is dit JM Coetzee?” festival, held earlier this year in Amsterdam. The multi-lingual Coetzee “goes Dutch” in his introduction, which we have translated here for our BOOK SA readers*. The reading of the short story itself is in English:

Before I begin I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart the many fellow artists, writers and readers who have participated in this event over the past three nights. I have found these three nights to be a very moving experience. I have never written for a specific reading audience nor for specific readers but rather, in a somewhat blind way, for the future and the people of the future. It is thus with some surprise, even with some shock, that I meet real, living people who have actually read my books. I found these three nights here in Amsterdam particularly interesting because here I am reading in a language, or in the language of my translator, Peter Bergsma, which I feel is more amusing than my original English. Tonight I will read for you one of the Elizabeth Costello pieces of prose which I prefer to call ‘lessons’ rather than ‘stories’. For the occasion it has been shortened. It is called ‘The old woman and the cats’:




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* Thanks a million to the friend of BOOK SA who laboured over the translation!


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