Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies

Autre-biography: Disability and Life Writing in Coetzee's Later Works

Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies (2012), 6, (1), 53–67.


Taking as its starting point Coetzee's claim that "all autobiography is storytelling, all writing is autobiography," the article considers the relationship between his experimentation with genre and the representation of physical disability in his later works. Slow Man (2005) and Diary of a Bad Year (2007) suggest parallels with Coetzee's own life story. They also draw upon the emerging genre of disability autobiography, but within fictional frameworks. In the slippage between the genres of autobiography, the novel and third-person "autre-biography," Coetzee explores the challenges of representing disabled people and others who have traditionally been spoken for, and his works calls into question narrow, linear understandings of life stories. The article argues that semi-autobiographical fiction, in both print and digital forms, represents an important new area of enquiry in disability studies.

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Author details

Hall, Alice