Did you know?
JM Coetzee is the first writer to win the Booker Prize twice.
JM Coetzee is a son of South Africa who enjoys wide international acclaim as a writer, having won the Booker Prize twice before being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Although he is now an Australian citizen, South Africa remains understandably proud of his achievements and his books continue to articulate some of the major challenges of our country and our time.
The best-known of JM Coetzee literature includes Waiting for the Barbarians, which won him the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1980. Age of Iron was the Sunday Express Book of the Year, and The Master of Petersburg won the Irish Times International Fiction Prize in 1995. Youth (2002) is a fictionalised memoir of his time in London in the early 1960s, where he was working as a computer programmer for IBM. Many regard Disgrace (published in 1999) as his finest work. His latest book, Summertime, was first published in 2009.
All the works of JM Coetzee demonstrate the clear, concise prose and meticulous construction for which he is celebrated. His deceptively simple economy of words and direct, rational style may partly stem from his academic background in linguistics, mathematics, computer science and translation. He uses this to great effect as he plumbs the depths of the human soul in a context that is a fictional extrapolation of South Africa's literal and figurative landscape.
An intensely private person who shuns interviews and prize-giving ceremonies, Coetzee is the son of liberal Afrikaners. He went to St Joseph's College in Cape Town, and gained honours degrees in English (1960) and in mathematics (1961) at the University of Cape Town (UCT). UCT awarded him a Master of Arts degree in 1963 for his thesis on the novels of Ford Madox Ford.
The University of Texas conferred a PhD in linguistics for his thesis on computer stylistic analysis of Samuel Beckett's work. He taught literature at the State University of New York, was denied US residence because of his anti-Vietnam War stance, and returned to South Africa to become professor of English at UCT in 1971.
On retiring in 2002 he became an honorary research fellow at the University of Adelaide in Australia where he now resides.
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