Dear Professor Coetzee,
I have long been an admirer of your magnificent novels and I happened to be present in the Guild Hall in October 1999 when the jury chairman, former Labour Party minister Gerald Kaufman explained to the audience that he came from the “simple and naive world of politics and was unprepared for the long knives of literary critics.” Then he read off your name as winner for “Disgrace.” That was the first time ever that a given author was twice named laureate of the Booker Prize. At my table, we were all delighted.
I was present at the Awards Dinner in my capacity as Chairman of the Russian Booker Prize, an offshoot created by the UK Booker’s founder Sir Michael Caine in 1992. I mention that evening of October 1999 in my newly published “Memoirs of a Russianist, volume II: Russia in the Roaring 1990s”
You were remarkably brave in writing and publishing Disgrace, and the jury was brave to recognize its genius because you were directly opposing political correctness.
For all of the above reasons, I am greatly disappointed to learn that you affixed your signature to a letter petitioning Russian President Putin to release from prison the opposition personality Alexei Navalny.
With all due respect, I must tell you frankly that you have been duped by fellow intellectuals who are themselves the knaves of the Russia-bashers, the Ugly Americans who populate the governing political elite of the United States in both parties. To put it less formally, you don’t know your ass from your elbow when it comes to current Russian politics, when it comes to who is who and what is what. But this ignorance has not prevented your barging in precisely in the spirit of political correctness as it is practiced by the Collective West. Shame on you, Mr. Coetzee.
I will not be tedious. I will not explain why exactly Alexei Navalny has earned his fate, is a pawn in the hands of German, UK and US intelligence operatives, has no more than 4% of support within Russia as against 65% support enjoyed by Vladimir Putin, fair and square, in polling by many non-government experts. More to the point, Navalny in power would threaten European and world peace, since he is an outrageous xenophobe and Russian nationalist who has none of the self-restraint of the current Russian governing elites.
Please reflect and consider a retraction.