|Author: J. M. Coetzee|
J. (John) M. (Maxwell) Coetzee came from a sheep-farming family, but his father was also a lawyer and his mother a teacher. Coetzee studied both mathematics and English at the University of Cape Town, and after graduation took a job as a computer programmer. He came to the U.S. at the age of 25 to attend the University of Texas, where he received a Ph.D. in linguistics; he then taught at SUNY Buffalo for three years in the 1960s. He moved back to Capetown in 1971 and began to write fiction that reflected South Africa's political situation without writing about it explicitly. His fourth book, THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MICHAEL K., won the Booker Prize in 1983, as did DISGRACE, his twelfth, in 1999. In 2003, Coetzee was awarded--to his complete shock, he said in interviews--the Nobel Prize in Literature. The Nobel committee, which called the choice an "easy" one, called Coetzee "a scrupulous doubter, ruthless in his criticism of the cruel rationalism and cosmetic morality of Western civilization." A reclusive and very private man, Coetzee has been married and divorced; he has a daughter, and his only son was killed in an accident at the age of 23. Author Rian Malan describes Coetzee as: "A man of almost monkish self-discipline and dedication. He does not drink, smoke or eat meat. He cycles vast distances to keep fit and spends at least an hour at his writing-desk each morning, seven days a week. A colleague who has worked with him for more than a decade claims to have seen him laugh just once." Coetzee has spent his life quietly, teaching at universities (often in the U.S.) and producing a steady stream of critically acclaimed literature. He has, however, written an autobiography--BOYHOOD: SCENES FROM PROVINCIAL LIFE--in which he recounts his gradually dawning distaste for the imperialism and racism that, in South Africa, culminated in apartheid. In 2002, he became a citizen of Australia.