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J. M. Coetzee: A Life in Writing

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J M Coetzee, J.C. Kannemeyer, book reviewThe South African writer J. M. Coetzee is a notoriously private and quiet man. In a 1990 profile by journalist Rian Malan, it was noted that “a colleague who has worked with him for more than a decade claims to have seen him laugh just once. An acquaintance has attended several dinner parties where Coetzee has uttered not a single word.” For there to be a new and official biography (A Life in Writing) of the Booker and Nobel prize-winning author is therefore quite surprising. For it to be done with the full and enthusiastic cooperation of Coetzee himself is remarkable – publisher Scribe even go so far as to describe it as a “global publishing event”.

Curiously, despite his unwillingness to be interviewed about his private life prior to the publication of this new biography, Coetzee has produced a trilogy of novels that he describes as “fictionalised memoir”: Boyhood (1997), Youth (2002) and Summertime (2009).


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