J M Coetzee (1940 – )

John Maxwell Coetzee (pronounced coot-SEE-uh) is a South African author.

On 2 October 2003, it was announced that he was to be the recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature, the fourth African writer to be so honoured. The prize was awarded in Stockholm on 10 December.

He was born on 9 February 1940, in Cape Town, as John Michael Coetzee (he later changed his middle name), and his formative years were spent between that city and the Western Cape town of Worcester. He studied at the University of Cape Town, where he took degrees in mathematics and English.

In the early 1960s he relocated to London, England, where he worked for a time as a computer programmer; his experiences there were later chronicled in Youth (2002). He then moved on to postgraduate studies in literature in the USA at the University of Texas, following which he taught English and literature at the University at Buffalo (SUNY) until 1983.

In 1984 he returned to South Africa to a professorship in English Literature at the University of Cape Town. Upon retirement in 2002, he relocated to Adelaide, Australia, where he was made an honorary research fellow at the English department of the University of Adelaide.

He was the first author to be awarded the Booker Prize on two occasions: for Disgrace in 1999; because of a desire to avoid the associated publicity, however, he did not appear to collect his prizes. In addition to his novels, he has also published critical works and translations.

Books by J M Coetzee