Foe is a small sized novel written by the South African author, J.M Coetzee. Published by Viking Press in 1986, it is only a hundred and fifty seven pages. Coetzee retells Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe – a story about a castaway who spends 28 years on a remote island and is later rescued after several encounters with cannibals, insurgents and the likes.
In Youth: Scenes from Provincial Life II, Coetzee distances himself from the younger John by writing what he terms an “autre-biography. Written in the present tense and in the third person, the story has a lively and immediate reality while at the same time suggesting a clear distance between the author and his subject.
Diary of a Bad Year is an all encompassing read, a novel full of ideas, ideas that are thought-provoking and interesting. Published in 2008 by Viking Penguin, it offers a departure from the novel format that many readers are used to. The usual reading of a novel page-by-page does not apply here because the reader is presented with sentences that run across pages even mid-way into completing a page.
This Booker Prize-winning novel by South African author J. M. Coetzee tells the story of Davis Lurie, a professor lecturing romantic poetry and communication skills at the Technical University of Cape town. He is twice divorced and lives alone. At different stages in their lives, Davis and his daughter, Lucy, face personal humiliation, and have to come to terms with life, thereafter.
For the fan of the short story form, this African Pens 2011 collection may well be the continent’s bible of the genre. The short story is no longer the forte of dead writers like Can Themba, Herman Charles Bosman, RRR Dhlomo, Bertha Goudvis and their contemporaries.
The book is set in South Africa, where Magda stays in a deep, remote farm with her father and his father’s servants (Hendrik and Anna). Magda is an unmarried woman who almost feels useless and lonely, and hopeless and desolate.
This week, the winners of the 2010 Nobel Prize in various fields are being announced. Winners will walk away with a medal, personal diploma, and a cash award of approximately $1.5 million each. The awards founded by Alfred Nobel, a Swedish inventor and entrepreneur honor “men and women from all corners of the globe for outstanding achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and for work in peace.”
Over the years, Africa has had its fair share of award recipients, notably Nelson Mandela and Frederik Willem de Klerk who were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 2003.
Born in 1940, John Maxwell Coetzee grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, where he attended St. Joseph’s College, and later studied mathematics and English at the University of Cape Town. He received his Bachelor of Arts with Honours in English in 1960 and his Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Mathematics in 1961.
In Summertime, Coetzee reimagines his life in the 1970s, and although the story focuses on the imaginary John Coetzee, there are many similarities to the real Coetzee. Both are from South Africa. Like the real Coetzee, the John in Summertime returns home from overseas. Strikingly, he too has won a Nobel Prize.