(1940- ) South African author (in Australia from 2002) and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003, some of whose work relates to the fantastic. Works clearly standing outside any mimetic tradition include Waiting for the Barbarians (1980), which offers something like a Future War scenario – though one as chillingly abstract as that presented in Dino Buzzati's The Tartar Steppe (1940) – where a soldier in command of a border outpost during an interminable war violates the vicious racial policies of his home government, and is arrested and Tortured by "the Third Bureau"; it was adapted as an opera, Waiting for the Barbarians (2005), by Philip Glass. Life & Times of Michael K (1983) is set in a South Africa caught in the coils of a savage Civil War. The Jesus sequence, beginning with The Childhood of Jesus (2013), takes place in a surreal Utopia in which two refugees from an unnamed land find themselves trapped, a territory whose abstractedly estranged absence of circumstantiality patently serves its function as an a priori for the kind of thematic investigation typical of the Mainstream Writer of SF. Foe (1986) is a Robinsonade. Several of the essays and reviews assembled in Stranger Shores: Literary Essays 1986-1989 (coll 2001) and Inner Workings: Essays 2000-2005 (coll 2007) deal with the work of various authors, some examples – like the extensive commentary on Philip Roth's The Plot Against America (2004) – being of direct sf interest. [JC]
see also: Race in SF.
John Maxwell Coetzee
born Cape Town, Cape Province, South Africa: 9 February 1940
works (highly selected)
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