Writers are often judged for the actions and opinions and beliefs of their characters because people think that we - writers - are using our characters as a way to express ourselves. And that might be true for some writers. A lot of writers use their stories as a bit of a soap box for them to preach about something that they are passionate about. But for many others what their characters might be the polar opposite of them. I've always felt that writers should have the freedom to write about whomever and whatever they want to write about. We should not be censored and we should not be held accountable for the actions of our characters. When I write a story I cease to be myself and I become my character. I am whoever they need to be. I breathe life into them and I make them come alive. The character lives and breathes through me. But we are still separate beings. If my character does or says something rude or inappropriate I am only doing that for the sake of the story their actions should not be a reflection on me and my own opinions not unless I specifically say that it is supposed to be.
It's unfair to call Coeztee a racist just because his character David Lurie has a hard time adapting to the political changes that sweep through South Africa. It's like calling the author of American Psycho a psychopath just because his main character is one. Coeztee wrote a story that was unpleasant to read about but was something that needed to be shared. You shouldn't try to ban things just because they pull back the curtain on a truth you do not want to face. Disgrace is fiction. We need to remember that there is a line between fiction and reality. Instead of pointing fingers at Coeztee and calling him a racist what people should be doing is discussing Disgrace and the important questions it raises about race relations and politics in South Africa.