John Michael Coetzee
John Michael Coetzee (an Afrikaner name) was born in Cape Town, South Africa, and brought up in rural Cape Province. He studied at Cape Town University and then moved to London, where he worked as a computer programmer.
He earned his Ph.D at the University of Texas at Austin and was eventually appointed Butler Professor of English at the State University of New York at Buffalo. In 1984 he returned to his native country as Professor of General Literature at the University of Cape Town. In 2002 he moved to Australia, and in 2003 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
His best work include Waiting for the Barbarians (1980) and Disgrace (1999). Coetzee's reserved personality is well known. He leads a solitary life based on a tough, self-imposed discipline. According to Rian Malan ("Time", October 13th, 2003) "his writing is veiled, oblique, his personal style aloof and monastic. He declines to take sides, join causes or reveal anything interesting about his private life". Malan himself, on the other hand, had already described him in the past as a solitary person, a vegetarian, a non-drinker and a non-smoker. But Coetzee is a also the writer who "described more truly than any other, what it was to be white and conscious in the face of apartheid's stupidities and cruelties although the word apartheid is never uttered in his novels and the settings are not necessarily South African. In its citation, the Nobel Academy said his novels are characterized by their well-crafted composition, pregnant dialogue and analytic brilliance. "But at the same time, he is a scrupulous doubter, ruthless in his criticism of the cruel rationalism and cosmetic morality of Western civilization".