University of Rochester

Award-Winning South African Author to Read at University

April 8, 2002

South African novelist J.M. Coetzee, a two-time winner of Britain's prestigious Booker Prize, will read from his work at 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, in Hubbell Auditorium in Hutchison Hall on the University of Rochester's River Campus.

Born in Cape Town in 1940, Coetzee studied English and mathematics at the University of Cape Town and moved to the United States in 1965, where he earned his doctorate at the University of Texas at Austin. He has been on the faculty of the University of Cape Town since returning to South Africa in 1972.

Coetzee started his first novel while teaching at the State University of New York at Buffalo from 1968 to 1971. Dusklands, which was actually two novellas and was published in 1974, examined the parallels between Americans in Vietnam and early Dutch settlers in South Africa.

In 1980, Coetzee won South Africa's highest literary honor, the Central News Agency Literary Award, for Waiting for Barbarians. He first won the Booker Prize in 1983 for The Life and Times of Michael K and again in 1999 for Disgrace, becoming the first author to win the award twice. The Booker Prize is open to British, Irish, and Commonwealth authors and recognizes the best novel of the year.

Coetzee has written eight novels, including a fictionalized autobiography of his early years, Boyhood. He is also the author of several essay collections, including his most recent book, Stranger Shores: Literary Essays.

Other literary honors awarded to Coetzee include the Lannan Award for Fiction, the Jerusalem Prize, and the Irish Times International Prize.

Coetzee's reading is part of the 40th anniversary season of the Plutzik Memorial Series administered by the Department of English. His appearance is co-sponsored by the Frederick Douglass Institute for African and African-American Studies, the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, and the Student Activities Office, and replaces the originally scheduled visit of another South African author, Nadine Gordimer, who was unable to come to Rochester. For parking and other information, call (585) 275-4092.