In this collection of 21 essays introduced by Derek Attridge, most of which have been published in the New York Review of Books, Coetzee reveals his skill as a literary critic in his own right.
The essay on Arthur Miller first appeared in Writers at the Movies, ed. Jim Shepard (New York: Harper Collins, 2000).
The essay on Robert Musil first appeared as an introduction to The Confusions of Young Törless, trans. Shaun Whiteside (London: Penguin, 2001).
The essay on Graham Greene first appeared as an introduction to Brighton Rock (New York: Penguin, 2004).
The essay on Samuel Beckett is excerpted from the introduction to volume 4 of Samuel Beckett: The Grove Centenary Edition (New York: Grove, 2006).
The essay on Hugo Claus first appeared as an introduction to the paperbound edition of Hugo Claus, Greetings: Selected Poems, trans. John Irons (New York: Harcourt, 2006).
All other essays first appeared, in earlier form, in the New York Review of Books.