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John Maxwell Coetzee wins the Nobel Prize for Literature 2003

The Swedish Academy have announced that South African writer John Maxwell Coetzee is winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature 2003.

In the view of the jury, ‘J.M. Coetzee’s novels are characterised by their well-crafted composition, pregnant dialogue and analytical brilliance. But at the same time he is a scrupulous doubter, ruthless in his criticism of the cruel rationalism and cosmetic morality of western civilisation. His intellectual honesty erodes all basis of consolation and distances itself from the tawdry drama of remorse and confession. Even when his own convictions emerge to view... he elucidates the premises on which they are based rather than he argues for them....

‘There is a great wealth of variety in Coetzee’s works. No two books ever follow the same recipe. Extensive reading reveals a recurring pattern, the downward spiralling journeys he considers necessary for the salvation of his characters. His protagonists are overwhelmed by the urge to sink but paradoxically derive strength from being stripped of all external dignity.’

Coetzee was born in 1940 in Cape Town, South Africa, of German and English parentage. In the early 1960s he moved first to England, then to the USA, where he taught literature and English at the State University of New York at Buffalo. In 1984 he returned to South Africa as Professor of English Literature at the University of Cape Town. In 2002 he moved to Australia, where he is attached to the University of Adelaide.

Coetzee is the only author to win the Booker Prize twice.

Nobel Prizes in Literature have been awarded by The Swedish Academy since 1901. Coetzee will receive his $1.3 million prize from the King of Sweden in Stockholm Concert Hall on Nobel Day, December 10th.


posted 2/10/03


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