cover image Lacuna


Fiona Snyckers. Europa, $25 (256p) ISBN 978-1-60945-725-9

South African writer Snyckers makes her adult literary debut (after the YA Cat’s Paws Cozy Mystery series) with an engaging postmodern work based on Lucy Lurie, the character who is gang-raped in J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace. Set in Cape Town, this begins two years after six Black strangers raped the white Lucy, now 28, after breaking into her father’s home. Lucy is dubbed Cape Town’s Number One Rape Victim, both due to the severity of the crime and because her colleague, Professor John Coetzee, wrote a Booker Prize–winning novel about the rape. Coetzee did not include Lucy’s point of view; his “lacuna” is celebrated by critics but bemoaned by Lucy, who resolves to tell what happened in her own words, but first she must work through her trauma. She’s convinced that in order to recover, she must find the now-retired author and make him understand he had no right to turn her rape into a postapartheid metaphor. Snyckers’s Lucy is a vivid narrator who coyly takes liberties with her own accounts of her search for Coetzee and her relationships with her therapist, her burgeoning love interest, and her distant father. Readers will find much to chew on in the questions Snyckers poses about storytelling, power, and agency. (Jan.)