Special Commissioned Entry on J. M. Coetzee Margaret Lenta
(Full name John Michael Coetzee) South African novelist, essayist, short story writer, critic, and editor.
The following special entry, written by noted scholar Margaret Lenta, presents an overview of Coetzee's life and works. For further information on Coetzee's writings, see CLC, Volumes 23, 33, 66, and 117.
Regarded as one of South Africa's most accomplished contemporary novelists, Coetzee examines the effects of racism and colonial oppression in his works. While addressing the brutalities and contradictions associated with the South African policy of apartheid, Coetzee writes from an apolitical viewpoint that extends beyond geographic and social boundaries to achieve universal significance. This effect is enhanced through his use of such literary devices as allegory, unreliable narrators, and enigmatic symbolic settings.