J. M. Coetzee

John Maxwell Coetzee [ kut ͜ sɪə ] ( born February 9, 1940 in Cape Town ) is a South African writer. He became the first author twice with the Booker Prize and in 2003 received the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Life and career

Coetzee has Dutch roots, but grew up in an English speaking family. However, he was also familiar with Afrikaans since childhood. His mother Vera Coetzee was an elementary school teacher, his father Zacharias, a lawyer who had fought on the side of the Allies in North Africa during the Second World War. Until 1948, the father was employed as a lawyer with the Government in Cape Town, but then lost this position due to its apartheid critical attitude, after which the family lived on a farm in Worcester for three years.

JM Coetzee studied at the University of Cape Town English ( Honours BA 1960) and graduated in parallel, a second main course in Mathematics ( BA Honours 1961). After that he was in England, first for IBM and then for International Computers Limited in Bracknell, Berkshire programmer, to a time which he describes in the second volume of his novelistic memoirs ( Youth. Scenes from Provincial Life II, 2002). With a thesis on Ford Madox Ford in 1963, he earned an MA degree in English at the University of Cape Town. In the same year he married Philippa Jubber (1939-1991), with whom he had two children - Nicolas (1966-1989) and Gisela ( b. 1968 ) - had. The marriage ended in divorce in 1980.

In 1965, Coetzee under the Fulbright program doctoral studies in English and Linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin, where he received his doctorate in 1969 for PhD because of a computer analysis of the style of the early prose of Samuel Beckett. This is followed by a teaching post at the State University of New York at Buffalo joined. 1972 his application for a permanent residence permit in the United States was rejected after he had participated in March 1970 in protests against the Vietnam War and was arrested after the occupation of a lecture hall of his University at Buffalo with 44 other faculty members because of " criminal trespass " had. Then the family returned to South Africa where Coetzee held a lectureship in English, Linguistics and Literary Studies at the University of Cape Town. In 1984 he was appointed professor. He also taught repeatedly in the United States: at the State University of New York, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Stanford University and the University of Chicago. In addition to his teaching and writer, he worked as a translator of novels and poetry from the Dutch and Afrikaans. He lives, works and teaches in Adelaide in Australia since 2002. On 6 March 2007 he became an Australian citizen.

1974 Coetzee published his first literary work, Dusklands consisting of The Vietnam Project and The Narrative of Jacobus Coetzee. The combination of the two to be independently told parts points to parallels between the Americans in Vietnam today and the Dutch colonization of South Africa in the 18th century. His works often take very clear reference to the social and political ills and problems of his country and represent humanity at a high aesthetic level at the center. Individual fates are represented allegorically for all people. Coetzee is a vegetarian and patron of the Australian animal rights organization Voiceless. Explicitly, the animal rights issues in the novels Elizabeth Costello and shame is treated.

1980 Coetzee was awarded the Central News Agency Literary Award, the highest South African literary award, for Waiting for the Barbarians. In 1983 he was again in 1987 for Shame Award for Life and Times of Michael K. Booker Prize, the Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society and in 1999 with the Booker Prize. He was further including the Lannan Award for Fiction, The Irish Times International Fiction Prize, the Jerusalem Prize and the Commonwealth Literary Award and was appointed Chevalier dans l' Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. 2003 Coetzee was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature as an author "who in innumerable Guise Portrays the surprising involvement of the outsider" ( " the surprising involvement of the outsider is in innumerable guises ").


The best known is Coetzee for his novels (which are never extensively ), but he also works in other genres. He has published numerous essays, which often deal with questions of literary theory. Some of the essay and novel genres be mixed and matched with him. So Elizabeth Costello is a series of lectures of a fictional Australian novelist, which are held together by a loose narrative thread; in his book, Diary of a Bad Year contrast essays and a fictional novel's plot can be played simultaneously on the same page. Issues which Coetzee is concerned in his essays, often reappear in his novels.

Some works of Coetzee wear autobiographical, but are always so heavily fictionalized that a clear separation of "true" events and fiction is not possible. Also Coetzee himself appears in these texts on always as an artificial figure. Outside his literature, it is economical with comments on his person and his own works, only in the book edited by David Attwell band Doubling the Point, he commented in more detail. However, Coetzee believes that any literature per se autobiographical and political aspects has.


Already with his first release Dusklands in 1974 succeeded Coetzee 's international breakthrough. Since then, all his books are the subject of countless reviews, interpretations and literary studies, works and achieve high sales figures. At international level, Coetzee has never been a particularly controversial writer, in his native South Africa, he joined the other hand, partly due to rejection. His literature was regarded there as elitist during apartheid and confronted with the accusation of political Konturlosigkeit. Abroad he was, however, perceived rather than oppositional author. Mostly a political motivation was also suspected behind the award of the Nobel Prize to Coetzee in 2003.


Novels and stories

  • Waiting for the Barbarians, German by Brigitte Weidmann, Henssel, Berlin 1984, ISBN 3-87329-109-6, and Reinhild Boehnke, S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2001, ISBN 3-10-010814-0
  • Life and Times of Michael K., German by Wulf Teichmann, Hanser, Munich / Vienna 1986, ISBN 3-446-14132-4
  • Mr. Cruso, Mrs. Barton and Mr. Foe, German by Wulf Teichmann, Hanser, Munich / Vienna 1990, ISBN 3-446-14936-8
  • Iron Time, German by Wulf Teichmann, S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1995, ISBN 3-10-010807-8
  • The Master of Petersburg, German by Wolfgang Krege, S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1996, ISBN 3-10-010809-4
  • The boy. An African Childhood, dt Reinhild Boehnke, S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1998, ISBN 3-10-010811-6
  • Shame, dt Reinhild Boehnke, S. Fischer, Frankfurt 2000, ISBN 3-10-010815-9
  • The Lives of Animals, dt Reinhild Boehnke, S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2000, ISBN 3-10-010817-5
  • The young years, dt Reinhild Boehnke, S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2002, ISBN 3-10-010819-1
  • Elizabeth Costello. Eight Lehrstücke, dt Reinhild Boehnke, S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2004, ISBN 3-10-010820-5
  • Slow Motion, dt Reinhild Boehnke, S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2005, ISBN 3-10-010833-7
  • Diary of a Bad Year, dt Reinhild Boehnke, S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2008, ISBN 978-3-10-010834-0
  • Summer of life, dt Reinhild Boehnke, S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2010, ISBN 978-3-10-010835-7
  • The childhood of Jesus, dt Reinhild Boehnke, S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main, 2013, ISBN 978-3-10-010825-8

Non-fiction and essays

  • What is a classic? Essays, dt Reinhild Boehnke, S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 3-10-010818-3 ( includes several formed 1981-2001 literary essays ).