Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Book reviews, Pullitzer, Booker, Costa and Children's Book reviews
Prize Winning Fiction
Prize Winning Fiction

1983 Booker Prize Winner

Life and Times of Michael K by J M Coetzee

       
 

Publisher: Secker & Warburg

Length:

About: South African gardener finds his own way

Style: 1st person

Where: South Africa

When: 1970/80s

 

 

Publisher’s synopsis:

In a South Africa torn by civil war, Michael K sets out to take his ailing mother back to her rural home. On the way there she dies, leaving him alone in an anarchic world of brutal roving armies. Imprisoned, Michael is unable to bear confinement and escapes, determined to live with dignity. This life-affirming novel illuminates the human experience: the need for an interior, spiritual life; for meaningful connections to the world in which we live; and for purity of vision.

 

 

Extract:

I have escaped the camps; perhaps, if I lie low, I will escape the charity too.

The mistake I made, he thought, going back in time, was not to have had plenty of seeds, a different packet of seeds for each pocket…. Then my mistake was to plant all my seeds together in one patch. I should have planted them one at a time spread out over miles of veld in patches of soil no larger than my hand, and drawn a map and kept it with me at all times so that every night I could make a tour of the sites to water them.

 

Reviews:

Good:

And so J.M. Coetzee has written a marvelous work that leaves nothing unsaid—and could not be better said—about what human beings do to fellow human beings in South Africa; but he does not recognize what the victims, seeing themselves as victims no longer, have done, are doing, and believe they must do for themselves. Does this prevent his from being a great novel? My instinct is to say a vehement “No.”

The New York Review of Books, Nadine Gordimer, 2nd February 1984 - for full review click here

 

Not so good:

"If Life & Times of Michael K has a flaw, it is in the last-minute imposition of an interior choral interpretation. In the final quarter we are removed, temporarily, from the plain seeing of Michael K to the self-indulgent diary of the prison doctor who struggles with the entanglements of an increasingly abusive regime. But the doctor's commentary is superfluous; he thickens the clear tongue of the novel by naming its "message" and thumping out ironies." -

Cynthia Ozick, The New York Times Book Review

 

About the author

J M Coetzee was born in South Africa in 1940. His novels include Waiting for the Barbarians (awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1980) and The Master of Petersburg (awarded the Irish Times International Fiction Prize in 1995). In 2003 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. J M Coetzee lives in Australia.

 

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<1982> -  <1984>

 

 

 

 

 

Ratings

Adventure

 8

Filmability

 8

Historical

 4

Humorous

 1

Intellectuality

 6

Life-changing

 8

Page turner

 7

Readability

 6

Romance

 3

 

Age guide: 12

 

 

Novels by same author:

Adaptations:

None to date

 

 

© PWF.co.uk

 

 

 

2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner

It's a massive day in arts and journalism because the 100th annual Pulitzer Prize winners were just announced, and there's a big surprise. 2015's best artistic and nonfiction writing across 21 categories were recognized during a ceremony Monday afternoon at Columbia University in New York City. The first Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Hebert Bayward Swope, a reporter for The New York World, in 1916. (And if you're as big a fan of Newsies as I am, that paper should ring a bell, but try to think of it more positively.)

The major prize for book nerds, the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction went to The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press), a legitimate surprise, if you've been paying attention to the book nerd and industry buzz. The feeling around the prize in the last few months would have you putting all your hard-earned cash down on A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara to take home the award, but that's why you should never gamble. Viet Thanh Nguyen is no less deserving, and moreover, it's his debut novel, which makes it such a wonderful win.

Extract from New York Times to view full article...

Click here

 

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