|JM Coetzee: A Life in Writing
ALSO AVAILABLE IN AFRIKAANS.
In spite of his world-wide eminence as a novelist and a literary scholar, the Nobel laureate JM Coetzee has not yet been the subject of a comprehensive biography. For JM. Coetzee: A Life in Writing, JC Kannemeyer, known for his two-volume history of Afrikaans literature, and biographies of Afrikaans authors, had the cooperation of Coetzee himself, who granted him interviews and put him in touch with family, friends and colleagues. Coetzee also provided him with comprehensive documentation in his private possession. Kannemeyer also studied the enormous body of literature on Coetzee, unearthing information not previously accessed. Kannemeyer completed this biography before his unexpected death on 25 December 2011. It has been translated by Michiel Heyns from Afrikaans to English.
The book journeys through Coetzee’s life, starting with an exploration of his genealogy, followed by a chronicle of his childhood in Cape Town and Worcester. After an account of his schooling, the biography traces Coetzee’s career through his student days at the University of Cape Town and time as a computer programmer in Britain. After this, he studied for his doctorate at the University of Texas in Austin, followed by three years as a lecturer at the State University of New York at Buffalo. His participation in a peaceful protest against the presence of police on the Buffalo campus led to the refusal of his application for a visa for an extended stay in the country, obliging him to return to the country of his birth.
Upon his return in 1971, Coetzee was appointed as a lecturer in English at the University of Cape Town, where for the next thirty years he enjoyed an illustrious academic career, encompassing spells as a visiting professor at American universities, and many lectures and readings at a wide variety of conferences and institutions. In 1974 his debut novel, Dusklands, appeared, followed by a number of novels that established him as a leading English-language novelist.
The biography for the first time introduces into the public domain information about an author known for only very exceptionally granting interviews to journalists, and not readily discussing his private life. The biographer had the opportunity to correct many misconceptions still prevailing, and to provide information shedding light on the genesis and implications of the novels. All in all, this biography is an indispensible source for everybody concerned with the work of JM Coetzee.