For fools admire but men of sense approve, to quote Alexander Pope. However, to simply say that I approve of the works of JM Coetzee seems an understatement too far. For a young South African who wishes to write meaningful beautiful novels the shadow cast by Coetzee is a dark one indeed; how to find one’s way to the lighter ground of originality, how to shake off the shackles of influence is a most vexing problem. I read and reread his novels and critical essays. The learning and craftsmanship which informs his work is inexhaustible in its ability to provide inspiration.