Life and Times of Michael K- J.M Coetzee- A review

the life and times review


This is the first book I read of Coetzee. I was blown away none the less. It was a novel about a simpleton, his name was Michael K. However, he was born with a harelip-, because of this impediment he could not get any girls. But then the novel is set in an imaginary civil war zone. And K doesn’t want to be a part of the war. He takes his sick mother to her childhood farm, but that is not an easy task. The soldiers wouldn’t let them pass without a  permit. This becomes a challenge for K. But still he  persists but on the way his mother dies and he is handed her ashes. Taking those ashes he goes from place to place until he reaches a small farm. There he starts to farm, he enjoys being a free man. But then because of the war he is once again caught in a camp. From there he escapes and he goes to the farm once again. But he becomes weak as days pass. Then on a particular day he is too weak to hide when the soldiers arrive. Mistaking him for helping the rebellions, he is taken from the farm. As he is very weak he is left in a hospital. The doctor there is very interested in him. But K is not interested even in eating. He somehow escapes the place and he finds some men and women in beach point. There he has sex with a woman, and then he reaches the house from which he started. The novel is very critical. It  is not clear what is the meaning of K. K can mean Kafka, that is a possibility. The novel deals with the freedom of man. And the importance of growth. Michael K in the beginning was a simple man, but in the end he instigates to think. He has developed a philosophy of gardening, and he believes that earth is the mother of all. And gardeners are always focused on the ground, that they don’t know what is happening around them.


Critical views:

The beginning of the novel is rather depressing, and Michael the_content() is not a very fast thinker. He is slow and dim-witted. All he knows is to plant. K does not share any of his emotions. He is like a doll tossed around by circumstance. He does not ruminate on his condition, nor does he have a definite goal.He is not in a salutary condition. He wanders from camp to camp finding pleasure only in gardening. Perhaps Coetzee didn’t want to take part in the war, and he uses K to insist the point. But it is easy to fall for intentional fallacy. On the other hand affective fallacy cannot be overlooked. Yes a person who is depressed and worried will liken themselves to K. And those in a war zone can easily identify with k. The universality of the novel is clear when one understands what it feels like to have freedom taken away from them. And the novel doesn’t deal with any racial problems. Even the colour of K is very difficult to decipher. This is a wonderful book and any serious reader should read Coetzee, the Nobel and Man Booker prize winner.



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D. Ronald Hadrian
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