Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  John Maxwell Coetzee  

Pen Name: J.M. Coetzee

Genre: Fiction Non-Fiction

Born: 1940 in Cape Town, South Africa

Sites:


Illinois Connection

Coetzee was a member of the Committee on Social Thought, at the University of Chicago, for six years. His tenure ended in 2003.

Biographical and Professional Information

Coetzee entered the University of Cape Town in 1957, and in 1960 and 1961 graduated successively with honours degrees in English and mathematics. He spent the years 1962–65 in England, working as a computer programmer while doing research for a thesis on the English novelist Ford Madox Ford. In 1968 he graduated from the University of Texas with a PhD in English, linguistics, and Germanic Languages. Coetzee's published work consists of fiction, fictionalised autobiographies (which he terms "autrebiography"), and non-fiction.In 2003 he won the Nobel Prize in Literature.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

In the Heart of the Country: A Novel
ISBN: 0140062289

Penguin Books. 1982

A story told in prose as feverishly rich as William Faulkner's, In the Heart of the Country is a work of irresistable power.



J.M. Coetzee's latest novel,

The Schooldays of Jesus, is now available from Viking.

Late Essays: 2006-2016

will be available January 2018.



On a remote farm in South Africa, the protagonist of J. M. Coetzee's fierce and passionate novel watches the life from which she has been excluded. Ignored by her callous father, scorned and feared by his servants, she is a bitterly intelligent woman whose outward meekness disguises a desperate resolve not to become "one of the forgotten ones of history." When her father takes an African mistress, that resolve precipitates an act of vengeance that suggests a chemical reaction between the colonizer and the colonized—and between European yearnings and the vastness and solitude of Africa.

With vast assurance and an unerring eye, J. M. Coetzee has turned the family romance into a mirror of the colonial experience.



Foe
ISBN: 014009623X

Penguin Books. 1988

With the same electrical intensity of language and insight that he brought to Waiting for the Barbarians, J.M. Coetzee reinvents the story of Robinson Crusoe—and in so doing, directs our attention to the seduction and tyranny of storytelling itself.

J.M. Coetzee's latest novel,

The Schooldays of Jesus, is now available from Viking.

Late Essays: 2006-2016

will be available January 2018.



In 1720 the eminent man of letters Daniel Foe is approached by Susan Barton, lately a castaway on a desert island. She wants him to tell her story, and that of the enigmatic man who has become her rescuer, companion, master and sometimes lover: Cruso. Cruso is dead, and his manservant, Friday, is incapable of speech. As she tries to relate the truth about him, the ambitious Barton cannot help turning Cruso into her invention. For as narrated by Foe—as by Coetzee himself—the stories we thought we knew acquire depths that are at once treacherous, elegant, and unexpectedly moving.

Age of Iron
ISBN: 0140275657

Penguin Books. 1998

In Cape Town, South Africa, an old woman is dying of cancer. A classics professor, Mrs. Curren has been opposed to the lies and brutality of apartheid all her life, but has lived insulated from its true horrors. Now she is suddenly forced to come to terms with the iron-hearted rage that the system has wrought. In an extended letter addressed to her daughter, who has long since fled to America, Mrs. Curren recounts the strange events of her dying days. She witnesses the burning of a nearby black township and discovers the bullet-riddled body of her servant's son. A teenage black activist hiding in her house is killed by security forces. And through it all, her only companion, the only person to whom she can confess her mounting anger and despair, is a homeless man, an alcoholic, who one day appears on her doorstep.

Brilliantly crafted and resonant with metaphor, Age of Iron is "a superbly realized novel whose truths cut to the bone." (The New York Times Book Review)

The Lives of Animals (The University Center for Human Values Series)
ISBN: 069107089X

Princeton University Press. 2001

The idea of human cruelty to animals so consumes novelist Elizabeth Costello in her later years that she can no longer look another person in the eye: humans, especially meat-eating ones, seem to her to be conspirators in a crime of stupefying magnitude taking place on farms and in slaughterhouses, factories, and laboratories across the world.

Costello's son, a physics professor, admires her literary achievements, but dreads his mother's lecturing on animal rights at the college where he teaches. His colleagues resist her argument that human reason is overrated and that the inability to reason does not diminish the value of life

his wife denounces his mother's vegetarianism as a form of moral superiority.

At the dinner that follows her first lecture, the guests confront Costello with a range of sympathetic and skeptical reactions to issues of animal rights, touching on broad philosophical, anthropological, and religious perspectives. Painfully for her son, Elizabeth Costello seems offensive and flaky, but--dare he admit it?--strangely on target.

Here the internationally renowned writer J. M. Coetzee uses fiction to present a powerfully moving discussion of animal rights in all their complexity. He draws us into Elizabeth Costello's own sense of mortality, her compassion for animals, and her alienation from humans, even from her own family. In his fable, presented as a Tanner Lecture sponsored by the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University, Coetzee immerses us in a drama reflecting the real-life situation at hand: a writer delivering a lecture on an emotionally charged issue at a prestigious university. Literature, philosophy, performance, and deep human conviction--Coetzee brings all these elements into play.

As in the story of Elizabeth Costello, the Tanner Lecture is followed by responses treating the reader to a variety of perspectives, delivered by leading thinkers in different fields. Coetzee's text is accompanied by an introduction by political philosopher Amy Gutmann and responsive essays by religion scholar Wendy Doniger, primatologist Barbara Smuts, literary theorist Marjorie Garber, and moral philosopher Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation. Together the lecture-fable and the essays explore the palpable social consequences of uncompromising moral conflict and confrontation.

Stranger Shores: Literary Essays
ISBN: 0142001376

Penguin Books. 2002

J.M. Coetzee's latest novel,

The Schooldays of Jesus, is now available from Viking.

Late Essays: 2006-2016

will be available January 2018.



Two-time Booker Prize-winner J. M. Coetzee is one of the world's greatest novelists. This thought-provoking collection gathers twenty-six of his essays on books and writing. In his opening piece, "What Is a Classic?", Coetzee asks, "What does it mean in living terms to say that the classic is what survives?" He explores the answer by way of T. S. Eliot, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Zbigniew Herbert. Coetzee goes on to discuss eighteenth- and nineteenth-century authors such as Defoe and Turgenev, the German modernists such as Rilke, Kafka, and Musil, and the giants of late-twentieth-century literature, among them Brodsky, Gordimer, Rushdie, and Lessing.

Youth: Scenes from Provincial Life II
ISBN: 0142002003

Penguin Books. 2003

J.M. Coetzee's latest novel,

The Schooldays of Jesus, is now available from Viking.

Late Essays: 2006-2016

will be available January 2018.



The second installment of J. M. Coetzee's fictionalized "memoir" explores a young man's struggle to experience life to its full intensity and transform it into art. The narrator of Youth has long been plotting an escape-from the stifling love of his overbearing mother, a father whose failures haunt him, and what he is sure is impending revolution in his native country of South Africa. Arriving at last in London in the 1960s, however, he finds neither poetry nor romance and instead begins a dark pilgrimage into adulthood. Youth is a remarkable portrait of a consciousness, isolated and adrift, turning in on itself, of a young man struggling to find his way in the world, written with tenderness and a fierce clarity.

Elizabeth Costello: Fiction
ISBN: 0142004812

Penguin Books. 2004

J.M. Coetzee's latest novel,

The Schooldays of Jesus, is now available from Viking.

Late Essays: 2006-2016

will be available January 2018.



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.

Disgrace: A Novel
ISBN: 0143115286

Penguin Books. 2008

Based on the novel by Nobel Prize-winning author J.M. Coetzee, the major motion picture stars John Malkovich.

J.M. Coetzee's latest novel,

The Schooldays of Jesus, is now available from Viking.

Late Essays: 2006-2016

will be available January 2018.



At fifty-two, Professor David Lurie is divorced, filled with desire, but lacking in passion. When an affair with a student leaves him jobless, shunned by friends, and ridiculed by his ex-wife, he retreats to his daughter Lucy's smallholding. David's visit becomes an extended stay as he attempts to find meaning in his one remaining relationship. Instead, an incident of unimaginable terror and violence forces father and daughter to confront their strained relationship and the equallity complicated racial complexities of the new South Africa.

Waiting for the Barbarians: A Novel (Penguin Ink)
ISBN: 0143116924

Penguin Books. 2010

A modern classic by Nobel Laureate J.M. Coetzee.

His latest novel,

The Schooldays of Jesus, is now available from Viking.

Late Essays: 2006-2016

will be available January 2018.



Waiting for the Barbarians centers on the crisis of the conscience of the Magistrate—a loyal servant of the Empire working in a tiny frontier town, doing his best to ignore an inevitable war with the "barbarians." After he witnesses the cruel and unjust treatment of prisoners of war, he reconsiders his role in the regime and carries out a quixotic act of rebellion.

Mark Rylance (Wolf Hall, Bridge of Spies), Ciro Guerra, and producer Michael Fitzgerald are teaming up to to bring J.M. Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians to the big screen.

Summertime: Fiction
ISBN: 0143118455

Penguin Books. 2010

"Not since Disgrace, has he written with such urgency and feeling." -The New Yorker

J.M. Coetzee's latest novel,

The Schooldays of Jesus, is now available from Viking.

Late Essays: 2006-2016

will be available January 2018.



Nobel Prize-winning author J. M. Coetzee's new book follows a young biographer as he works on a book about the late writer, John Coetzee. The biographer embarks on a series of interviews with people who were important to Coetzee during the period when he was "finding his feet as a writer"-in his thirties and sharing a run-down cottage in the suburbs of Cape Town with his widowed father. Their testimonies create an image of an awkward, reserved, and bookish young man who finds it difficult to connect with the people around him. An innovative and inspired work of fiction-incisive, elegant, and often surprisingly funny- Summertime allows one of the most revered writers of our time to imagine his own life with a critical and unsparing eye.


Awards

-- *Booker Prize, ''Life and Times of Michael K''

-- *Booker Prize, ''Disgrace''