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2003-11-06 | |
He debuted in 1974 with DUSKLANDS, a book consisting of two novellas: “America and Vietnam”, focused on the human impact of the conflict, and “The Narrative of Jacobus Coetzee”, related to the first. Three novels followed – IN THE HEART OF THE COUNTRY (1977), WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS (1980) and THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MICHAEL K (1983), none censored by the South-African regime although they dealt with uncomfortable subjects such as the violent aspects of apartheid, oppression and discrimination. Though not the Mandela rebel prototype, his works brought forth and sustained the antiapartheid movement in a sympathetic, autobiographical and highly acclaimed literary manner. Quite a modest figure, he chose to remain the name on his books, nothing else. The Coetzee style is hard to define, considering his most recent books as well (DISGRACE, 1999; THE HUMANITIES IN AFRICA, 2001; ELIZABETH COSTELLO: EIGHT LESSONS, 2003); it’s safe to say though, this 63 years old South-African literature professor, critic and translator somehow managed to reinvent narration and, most of all, to continually reinvent himself as an agonic postmodernist novelist. He’s just the first writer to win the Booker Prize twice (1983 and 1999) – and this is the highest award in English literature.
John Maxwell Coetzee cannot be described as every day consumers’ digest, although his works have been reviewed and translated in French, German and Swedish, or as an experimental fiction writer. As a matter of fact, he’s among the few extremely hard to label. And, the most important thing of all, he is the 2003 Nobel Prize for Literature laureate.
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