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Definition: Coetzee, J.M. (John Michael) from Philip's Encyclopedia

South African novelist and critic. His novels deal with life under forms of imperialism, including the South African apartheid system in In the Heart of the Country (1977) and Age of Iron (1990). Beside Peter Carey, Coetzee is the only writer to be awarded two Booker Prizes - for Life and Times of Michael K (1983) and Disgrace (1999). Other novels include Waiting for the Barbarians (1980), Foe (1986), and The Master of Petersburg (1994).


Summary Article: Coetzee, John Maxwell (1940-) from Encyclopedia of South Africa

Born on February 9, 1940, in Cape Town, Nobel Prize-winning author John Maxwell Coetzee is widely regarded as one of the great contemporary writers.

Although his family is of Afrikaner descent, Coetzee spoke English at home and at school. He studied at the University of Cape Town in the late 1950s and the early 1960s, earning degrees in English and mathematics. Wanting to be part of the wider world, Coetzee moved to England in 1962 where he worked as a computer programmer. In 1963, he married Philippa Jubber, and they had two children. Two years later, he began a PhD program in English at the University of Texas at Austin. Coetzee later taught at the State University of New York at Buffalo but was forced to leave after being denied permanent residency in the United States. He returned to South Africa where he taught literature at the University of Cape Town from 1972 until 2000.

Coetzee published his first novel, Dusklands, in 1974. His later works, including Waiting for the Barbarians (1980), Life & Times of Michael K (1983), and Disgrace (1999), garnered significant international attention. While Coetzee adamantly opposed apartheid, he shied away from politics and the spotlight, preferring to concentrate on his writing. He is known for his sensitivity to the human condition under colonialism and apartheid, examining the psychological and philosophical foundations of colonialism and its impact on the colonizer and the colonized. He has also written two fictionalized memoirs and numerous scholarly articles, and translated Afrikaans and Dutch literature.

In 1999, Coetzee became the first author to win the Booker Prize twice, and, in 2003, he became one of four Africans to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. In 2000, Coetzee immigrated to Australia, where he holds an honorary position at the University of Adelaide and continues to write.

See also Literature

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