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Life & Times of Michael Kby J M Coetzee
One of the two books that J. M. Coetzee won the Booker Prize for (he was also awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize for Literature), The Life and Times of Michael K. is the story of a simple man attempting to survive (from without) in a society that has seen its humanity perverted by war into horror. He is trying only to live in quiet absence and is senselessly thwarted at every turn. Like all of the rest of Coetzee's work, Life and Times is something more than shattering, more than moving.
Coetzee's beautiful tale of Michael K's search for meaning and dignity is inspiring and powerful and unfortunately relevant. The war, racism, and human-rights abuses framing The Life and Times of Michael K are as close as tomorrow's headlines. By focusing on one man's attempt to live a life of freedom, Coetzee universalizes our evils, and Michael K's heart-wrenching story becomes revealingly human. The savagery will haunt you, but Michael K's innocence and resolve will have you cheering. The Life and Times of Michael K changed for the better what I thought literature was capable of, and what it should aspire to: it cuts like barbed wire, but heals like a lover's touch. I owe my friend a lifetime of thanks for recommending this to me; it's simply a brilliant book.
Synopses & Reviews
In a South Africa turned by war, Michael K. sets out to take his ailing mother back to her rural home. On the way there she dies, leaving him alone in an anarchic world of brutal roving armies. Imprisoned, Michael is unable to bear confinement and escapes, determined to live with dignity. This life affirming novel goes to the center of human experience—the need for an interior, spiritual life; for some connections to the world in which we live; and for purity of vision.
About the Author
Born in Cape Town, South Africa, on February 9, 1940, John Michael Coetzee studied first at Cape Town and later at the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a Ph.D. degree in literature. In 1972 he returned to South Africa and joined the faculty of the University of Cape Town. His works of fiction include Dusklands, Waiting for the Barbarians, which won South Africa's highest literary honor, the Central News Agency Literary Award, and the Life and Times of Michael K., for which Coetzee was awarded his first Booker Prize in 1983. He has also published a memoir, Boyhood: Scenes From a Provincial Life, and several essays collections. He has won many other literary prizes including the Lannan Award for Fiction, the Jerusalem Prize and The Irish Times International Fiction Prize. In 1999 he again won Britain's prestigious Booker Prize for Disgrace, becoming the first author to win the award twice in its 31-year history. In 2003, Coetzee was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
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