Books

Late Essays

J M Coetzee

Stranger Shores, a collection of J.M. Coetzee’s essays from 1986 to 1999 was followed by Inner Workings, which contained those from 2000 to 2005. Late Essays gathers together Coetzee’s literary essays since 2006.

The subjects covered range from Daniel Defoe in the early eighteenth century to Coetzee’s contemporary Philip Roth. Coetzee has had a long-standing interest in German literature and here he engages with the work of Goethe, Hölderlin, Kleist and Walser. There are four fascinating essays on fellow Nobel laureate Samuel Beckett and he looks at the work of three Australian writers: Patrick White, Les Murray and Gerald Murnane. There are essays too on Tolstoy’s great novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich, on Flaubert’s masterpiece Madame Bovary, and on the Argentine modernist Antonio Di Benedetto.

J.M. Coetzee, a great novelist himself, is a wise and insightful guide to these works of international literature that span three centuries.

The Schooldays of Jesus

J M Coetzee

LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2016

Selected as a Book of the Year 2016 in the Observer and Daily Telegraph

When you travel across the ocean on a boat, all your memories are washed away and you start a completely new life. That is how it is. There is no before. There is no history. The boat docks at the harbour and we climb down the gangplank and we are plunged into the here and now. Time begins.

Davíd is the small boy who is always asking questions. Simón and Inés take care of him in their new town Estrella. He is learning the language; he has begun to make friends. He has the big dog Bolívar to watch over him. But he'll be seven soon and he should be at school. And so, Davíd is enrolled in the Academy of Dance. It's here, in his new golden dancing slippers, that he learns how to call down the numbers from the sky. But it's here too that he will make troubling discoveries about what grown-ups are capable of.

In this mesmerising allegorical tale, Coetzee deftly grapples with the big questions of growing up, of what it means to be a parent, the constant battle between intellect and emotion, and how we choose to live our lives.

The Good Story

J M Coetzee (and others)

The Good Story is an exchange between a writer with a longstanding interest in moral psychology and a psychotherapist with a training in literary studies. J. M. Coetzee and Arabella Kurtz consider psychotherapy and its wider social context from different perspectives, but at the heart of both their approaches is a concern with stories.

Working alone, the writer is in sole charge of the story he or she tells. The therapist, on the other hand, collaborates with the patient in telling the story of their life. What kind of truth do the stories created by patient and therapist aim to uncover: objective truth or the shifting and subjective truth of memories explored and re-experienced in the safety of the therapeutic relationship?

Drawing on great writers like Cervantes and Dostoevsky and on psychoanalysts like Freud and Melanie Klein, the authors offer illuminating insights into the stories we tell of our lives.

Foe

J M Coetzee

Nobel Laureate and two-time Booker prize-winning author of Disgrace and The Life and Times of Michael K, J. M. Coetzee reimagines Daniel DeFoe's classic novel Robinson Crusoe in Foe. Published as a Penguin Essential for the first time.

In an act of breathtaking imagination, J.M Coetzee radically reinvents the story of Robinson Crusoe.

In the early eighteenth century, Susan Barton finds herself adrift from a mutinous ship and cast ashore on a remote desert island. There she finds shelter with its only other inhabitants: a man named Cruso and his tongueless slave, Friday. In time, she builds a life for herself as Cruso's companion and, eventually, his lover. At last they are rescued by a passing ship, but only she and Friday survive the journey back to London.

Determined to have her story told, she pursues the eminent man of letters Daniel Foe in the hope that he will relate truthfully her memories to the world. But with Cruso dead, Friday incapable of speech and Foe himself intent on reshaping her narrative, Barton struggles to maintain her grip on the past, only to fall victim to the seduction of storytelling itself.

Treacherous, elegant and unexpectedly moving, Foe remains one of the most exquisitely composed of this pre-eminent author's works.

'A small miracle of a book. . . of marvellous intricacy and overwhelming power' Washington Post

'A superb novel' The New York Times

Here and Now

J M Coetzee

Although Paul Auster and J.M. Coetzee had been reading each other's books for years, the two writers did not meet until February 2008. Not long after, Auster received a letter from Coetzee, suggesting they begin exchanging letters on a regular basis and, 'God willing, strike sparks off each other.'

Here and Now is the result of that proposal: an epistolary dialogue between two great writers who became great friends. Over three years their letters touched on nearly every subject, from sports to fatherhood, film festivals to incest, philosophy to politics, from the financial crisis to art, family, marriage, friendship, and love.

Their correspondence offers an intimate and often amusing portrait of these two men as they explore the complexities of the here and now and is a reflection of two sharp intellects whose pleasure in each other's friendship is apparent on every page.

The Childhood of Jesus

J M Coetzee

An astonishing new masterpiece from the Nobel and twice Booker Prize-winning author of Disgrace and Summertime

After crossing oceans, a man and a boy – both strangers to each other – arrive in a new land. David, the boy, has lost his mother and Simón vows to look after him. In this strange new country they are assigned a new name, a new birthday, a new life.

Knowing nothing of their surroundings, nor the language or customs, they are determined to find David’s mother. Though the boy has no memory of her, Simón is certain he will recognize her at first sight. “But after we find her,” David asks, “what are we here for?”

The Childhood of Jesus is a profound, beautiful and continually surprising novel from a very great writer.

Scenes from Provincial Life

J M Coetzee

Here, for the first time in one volume, is J. M. Coetzee's majestic trilogy of fictionalised memoir, Boyhood, Youth and Summertime.

Scenes from Provincial Life opens in a small town in the South Africa of the 1940s. We meet a young boy who, at home, is ill at ease with his father and stifled by his mother's unconditional love. At school he passes every test that is set for him, but he remains wary of his fellow pupils, especially the rough Afrikaners.

As a student of mathematics in Cape Town he readies himself to escape his homeland, travel to Europe and turn himself into an artist. Once in London, however, the reality is dispiriting: he toils as a computer programmer, inhabits a series of damp, dreary flats and is haunted by loneliness and boredom. He is a constitutional outsider. He fails to write.

Decades later, an English biographer researches a book about the late John Coetzee, particularly the period following his return to South Africa from America. Interviewees describe an awkward man still living with his father, a man who insists on performing dull manual labour. His family regard him with suspicion and he is dogged by rumours: that he crossed the authorities in America, that he writes poetry.

Scenes from Provincial Life is a heartbreaking and often very funny portrait of the artist by one of the world's greatest writers.

Disgrace

J M Coetzee

INCLUDES A READING GUIDE

After years teaching Romantic poetry at the Technical University of Cape Town, David Lurie, middle-aged and twice divorced, has an impulsive affair with a student. The affair sours; he is denounced and summoned before a committee of inquiry. Willing to admit his guilt, but refusing to yield to pressure to repent publicly, he resigns and retreats to his daughter Lucy's isolated smallholding.

For a time, his daughter's influence and the natural rhythms of the farm promise to harmonise his discordant life. But the balance of power in the country is shifting. He and Lucy become victims of a savage and disturbing attack which brings into relief all the faultlines in their relationship.

Summertime

J M Coetzee

A young English biographer is working on a book about the late writer, John Coetzee. He plans to focus on a period in the seventies when, the biographer senses, Coetzee was 'finding his feet as a writer'. He embarks on a series of interviews with people who were important to Coetzee - a married woman with whom he had an affair, his favourite cousin Margot, a Brazilian dancer whose daughter had English lessons with him, former friends and colleagues. Thus emerges a portrait of the young Coetzee as an awkward, bookish individual, regarded as an outsider within the family. His insistence on doing manual work, his long hair and beard, and rumours that he writes poetry evoke nothing but suspicion in the South Africa of the time.

Age of Iron

J M Coetzee

Nobel Laureate and two-time Booker prize-winning author of Disgrace and The Life and Times of Michael K, J. M. Coetzee tells the remarkable story of a nation gripped in brutal apartheid in his Sunday Express Book of the Year award-winner Age of Iron.

In Cape Town, South Africa, an elderly classics professor writes a letter to her distant daughter, recounting the strange and disturbing events of her dying days. She has been opposed to the lies and the brutality of apartheid all her life, but now she finds herself coming face to face with its true horrors: the hounding by the police of her servant's son, the burning of a nearby black township, the murder by security forces of a teenage activist who seeks refuge in her house. Through it all, her only companion, the only person to whom she can confess her mounting anger and despair, is a homeless man who one day appears on her doorstep.

In Age of Iron, J. M. Coetzee brings his searing insight and masterful control of language to bear on one of the darkest episodes of our times.

'Quite simply a magnificent and unforgettable work' Daily Telegraph

'A superbly realized novel whose truth cuts to the bone' The New York Times

'A remarkable work by a brilliant writer' Wall Street Journal

South African author J. M. Coetzee was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003 and was the first author to win the Booker Prize twice for his novels Disgrace and The Life and Times of Michael K. His novel, Foe, an exquisite reinvention of the story of Robinson Crusoe is also available in Penguin paperback.

Disgrace

J M Coetzee

David Lurie, middle-aged and twice divorced, is a scholar fallen into disgrace. After years teaching Romantic poetry at the Technical University of Cape Town, he has an impulsive affair with a student. The affair sours; he is denounced and summoned before a committee of inquiry. Willing to admit his guilt, but refusing to yield to pressure to repent publicly, he resigns and retreats to an isolated smallholding owned by his daughter Lucy.

For a time, his daughter's influence and the natural rhythms of the farm promise to harmonise his discordant life. He helps with the dogs in the kennels, takes produce to market, and assists with treating injured animals at a nearby refuge.

But the balance of power in the country is shifting. He and Lucy become victims of a savage and disturbing attack which brings into relief all the faultlines in their relationship.

Chilling, uncompromising and unforgettable, Disgrace is a masterpiece.

Diary of a Bad Year

J M Coetzee

An eminent, ageing Australian writer is invited to contribute to a book entitled Strong Opinions. For him, troubled by Australia's complicity in the wars in the Middle East,it is a chance to air some urgent concerns: how should a citizen of a modern democracy react to their state's involvement in an immoral war on terror, a war that involves the use of torture?

Then in the laundry room of his apartment block he encounters an alluring young woman. He offers her work typing up his manuscript. Anya is not interested in politics, but the job will be a welcome distraction, as will the writer's evident attraction towards her. Her boyfriend, Alan, is an investment consultant who understands the world in harsh economic terms. Suspicious of his trophy girlfriend's new pastime, Alan begins to formulate a plan...

Inner Workings

J M Coetzee

Following on from Stranger Shores, which contained J.M. Coetzee's essays from 1986 to 1999, Inner Workings gathers together his literary essays from 2000 to 2005.

Of the writers discussed in the first half of the book, several - Italo Svevo, Joseph Roth, Bruno Schulz, Sandor Marai - lived through the Austro-Hungarian fin de siècle and felt the influence of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Freud. Coetzee further explores the work of six of twentieth-century German literature's greatest writers: Robert Musil, Robert Walser, Walter Benjamin (the Arcades Project), Joseph Roth, Gunter Grass, W.G. Sebald, and the poet Paul Celan in his 'wrestlings with the German language'.

There is an essay on Graham Greene's Brighton Rock and on the short fiction of Samuel Beckett, a writer whom Coetzee has long admired. American literature is strongly represented from Walt Whitman, through William Faulkner, Saul Bellow and Arthur Miller to Philip Roth. Coetzee rounds off the collection with essays on three fellow Nobel laureates: Nadine Gordimer, Gabriel García Márquez and V.S. Naipaul.

Dangling Man

Saul Bellow (and others)

Expecting to be inducted into the army, Joseph has given up his job and carefully prepared for his departure to the battlefront. When a series of mix-ups delays his induction, he finds himself facing a year of idleness. Dangling Man is his journal, a wonderful account of his restless wanderings through Chicago's streets, his musings on the past, his psychological reaction to his inactivity while war rages around him, and his uneasy insights into the nature of freedom and choice.

Slow Man

J M Coetzee

Paul Rayment is on the threshold of a comfortable old age when a calamitous cycling accident results in the amputation of a leg. Humiliated, his body truncated, his life circumscribed, he turns away from his friends.

He hires a nurse named Marijana, with whom he has a European childhood in common: hers in Croatia, his in France. Tactfully and efficiently she ministers to his needs. But his feelings for her, and for her handsome teenage son, are complicated by the sudden arrival on his doorstep of the celebrated Australian novelist Elizabeth Costello, who threatens to take over the direction of his life and the affairs of his heart.

Brighton Rock

Graham Greene (and others)

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY J.M. COETZEE

A gang war is raging through the dark underworld of Brighton. Seventeen-year-old Pinkie, malign and ruthless, has killed a man. Believing he can escape retribution, he is unprepared for the courageous, life-embracing Ida Arnold. Greene's gripping thriller, exposes a world of loneliness and fear, of life lived on the 'dangerous edge of things'.

Elizabeth Costello

J M Coetzee

Elizabeth Costello is an Australian writer of international renown. Famous principally for an early novel that established her reputation, she has reached the stage where her remaining function is to be venerated and applauded.

Her life has become a series of engagements in sterile conference rooms throughout the world - a private consciousness obliged to reveal itself to a curious public: the presentation of a major award at an American college where she is required to deliver a lecture; a sojourn as the writer in residence on a cruise liner; a visit to her sister, a missionary in Africa, who is receiving an honorary degree, an occasion which both recognise as the final opportunity for effecting some form of reconciliation; and a disquieting appearance at a writers' conference in Amsterdam where she finds the subject of her talk unexpectedly amongst the audience.

She has made her life's work the study of other people yet now it is she who is the object of scrutiny. But, for her, what matters is the continuing search for a means of articulating her vision and the verdict of future generations.

Waiting For The Barbarians

J M Coetzee

For decades the Magistrate has run the affairs of a tiny frontier settlement, ignoring the impending war between the barbarians and the Empire, whose servant he is. But when the interrogation experts arrive, he is jolted into sympathy with the victims and into a quixotic act of rebellion which lands him in prison, branded as an enemy of the state. Waiting for the Barbarians is an allegory of oppressor and oppressed. Not just a man living through a crisis of conscience in an obscure place in remote times, the Magistrate is an analogue of all men living in complicity with regimes that ignore justice and decency.

In The Heart Of The Country

J M Coetzee

Stifled by the torpor of colonial South Africa and trapped in a web of reciprocal oppression, a lonely sheep farmer seeks comfort in the arms of a black concubine. But when his embittered spinster daughter Magda feels shamed, this lurch across the racial divide marks the end of a tenuous feudal peace.

As she dreams madly of bloody revenge, Magda's consciousness starts to drift and the line between fact and the workings of her excited imagination becomes blurred. What follows is the fable of a woman's passionate, obsessed and violent response to an Africa that will not heed her.

Master Of Petersburg

J M Coetzee

WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE 2003

In The Master of Petersburg J. M. Coetzee dares to imagine the life of Dostoevsky. Set in 1869, when Dostoevsky was summoned from Germany to St Petersburg by the sudden death of his stepson, this novel is at once a compelling mystery steeped in the atmosphere of pre-revolutionary Russia and a brilliant and courageous meditation on authority and rebellion, art and imagination. Dostoevsky is seen obsessively following his stepson's ghost, trying to ascertain whether he was a suicide or a murder victim and whether he loved or despised his stepfather.

J M Coetzee

Biography

Born in Cape Town, South Africa, on February 9, 1940, John Michael Coetzee studied first at Cape Town and later at the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a Ph.D. degree in literature. In 1972 he returned to South Africa and joined the faculty of the University of Cape Town. His works of fiction include Dusklands, Waiting for the Barbarians, which won South Africa's highest literary honor, the Central News Agency Literary Award, and the Life and Times of Michael K., for which Coetzee was awarded his first Booker Prize in 1983. He has also published a memoir, Boyhood: Scenes From a Provincial Life, and several essays collections. He has won many other literary prizes including the Lannan Award for Fiction, the Jerusalem Prize and The Irish Times International Fiction Prize. In 1999 he again won Britain's prestigious Booker Prize for Disgrace, becoming the first author to win the award twice in its 31-year history. In 2003, Coetzee was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.