Reviews by Australians #3

I've been carrying on a bit of an internal debate lately whether or not to include works by J. M. Coetzee on this weblog. Not that I'm attempting to make any judgments on the man, either literary or philospophical - heaven forbid - just that I'm curious if he can now be considered Australian.

For those who aren't in the loop over this, Coetzee is described on the Nobel Prize website as: "John Maxwell Coetzee was born in Cape Town, South Africa, on 9 February 1940, the elder of two children." Since then, the bulk of his work, including his two Booker prize winning novels Life & Times of Michael K. and Disgrace, have had African settings and subjects. And the Nobel prize site lists his nationality as South African. However, it also goes on to state: "In 2002 Coetzee emigrated to Australia. He lives with his partner Dorothy Driver in Adelaide, South Australia, where he holds an honorary position at the University of Adelaide." So, is three years long enough to claim him as one of our own?

Coetzee was shortlisted for the 2004 Miles Franklin Award for his novel Elizabeth Costello which might have provided a hint. But then so was Shirley Hazzard for The Great Fire (which went on to win in 2004), and Matthew Kneale was shortlisted in 2001 for English Passengers, and he is definitely British. On the opposing side, Robert Dessaix includes Coetzee in his The Best Australian Essays 2004 collection, so he obviously thinks so. And Frank Moorhouse includes a story of Coetzee's in The Best Australian Stories 2004, which indicates that he agrees. With a pedigree like that who's to argue?

Which is a long introduction to justify my mentioning that J.M. Coetzee reviews a major new biography of William Faulkner, titled One Matchless Time: A Life of William Faulkner by Jay Parini, in this week's "New York Review of Books".

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on March 22, 2005 12:07 PM.

Young Australian Author was the previous entry in this blog.

"Looking for Something to Read" by Helen Garner is the next entry in this blog.

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