Winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize for Literature
Synopses & Reviews
In 1982, J. M. Coetzee dazzled the literary world with the now classic Waiting for the Barbarians
. Five novels and two Booker prizes later, Coetzee is a writer of international stature and a novelist whose publication of a new work is heralded as a literary event. Now, in his first work of fiction since the New York Times
, he has crafted an unusual and deeply affecting tale.
Elizabeth Costello is a distinguished and aging Australian novelist whose life is revealed through an ingenious series of eight formal addresses. From an award-acceptance speech at a New England liberal arts college to a lecture on evil in Amsterdam and a sexually charged reading by the poet Robert Duncan, Coetzee draws the reader inexorably toward its astonishing conclusion.
Vividly imagined and masterfully wrought in his unerring prose, Elizabeth Costello is, on its surface, the story of a woman's life as mother, sister, lover, and writer. Yet it is also a profound and haunting meditation on the nature of storytelling that only a writer of Coetzee's caliber could accomplish.
"Even more uncompromising than usual....It is a resounding achievement by Coetzee and one that will linger with the reader long after its reverberating conclusion." Publishers Weekly
"Elizabeth Costello has real novelistic force. Our pleasure is watching this fascinating woman wrestle with intellectual issues as if they are life-and-death matters and being convinced, in the end, that they are." Keir Graff, Booklist
"[D]oes Elizabeth Costello succeed artistically, as a
work of fiction? The answer is yes, but more despite its
metafictional superstructure than because of it....Coetzee's unflinching exploration of this desolate and strangely beautiful terrain represents the cruelest and best use to which literature can be put." The New York Times Book Review
"Costello's rigid morality and probing intelligence finally illuminate the fundamental question of what it means to be human. An intense and challenging novel; highly recommended." Library Journal
"The main question in this novel of ideas: What does Costello believe in? [Costello's] given her life over to words to the exclusion of her children, her sister, who's a nun in Africa, and who doesn't believe in 'the novel' or anything similarly humanistic but even words have betrayed her by the book's overwhelming conclusion." Adrienne Miller, Esquire
(read the entire Esquire review
Nobel Prize winner Coetzee has crafted an unusual and deeply affecting tale of an Australian novelist whose life is revealed through a series of eight formal addresses.
Since 1982, J. M. Coetzee has been dazzling the literary world. After eight novels that have won, among other awards, two Booker Prizes, and most recently, the Nobel Prize, Coetzee has once again crafted an unusual and deeply affecting tale. Told through an ingenious series of formal addresses, Elizabeth Costello is, on the surface, the story of a woman's life as mother, sister, lover, and writer. Yet it is also a profound and haunting meditation on the nature of storytelling.
About the Author
J. M. Coetzee has won many literary awards, including the Nobel Prize, three CNA prizes (South Africa's premier literary award), two Booker prizes, the Prix Etranger Femina, the Jerusalem Prize, the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, and the Commonwealth Writers Prize. He lives in Australia.