someday ill be in company of all....

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Book Review :Life and Times of Michael K by J.M Coetzee

Title: Life and times of Michael K
Author:J.M Coetzee
Price: Rs 399
Genre: fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
Source: Personal

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 Michael hare-lipped (that becomes his identity)  sets on a journey with his ailing mother to her hometown..Civil war makes it difficult for them to move with no paper and permission, to make it hard his mother dies , yet he moves ahead with her ashes through, escapes, confinement, hunger with dignity and honor..

The Time is 1940's were south Africa is hit by civil war unending and undeclared, people are affected by it deeply and engrossingly but that is not the storyline of the novel..Its is about Michael K , his hare lip set him apart from the crowd..His lip shaped like a snail's foot hurdles his speech with disorientation and flimsy pronunciation..Born to Anna K who works as a servant in Cape town, he is raised in state institution, home for handicapped children...His communication with the world and its people shrinks as he grows up making him an isolated man..He is employed as a gardener by the municipality of Cape town at the town park.. It is during this time the civil war breaks down, Michael is unaffected by all of it...But his mother health deteriorates, she finds it difficult to get  relief in the over crowded hospital..She wants to go back to her hometown, a near-desert state of Karoo.... Together they set on the journey turned down at the check points not getting too far...He loses his mother ,leaving behind her ashes in a brown parcel.. He is unstoppable from this point, he is detained for not having sufficient papers for the journey , sent to prison and rehabilitation center thereafter..He is homeless, hunger struck goes through several days down with racism and confinement of prison..Yet his zeal to life with dignity and to take his mother's ash home burns high in his mind rendering him strength and the grit to pursue his journey..

Michael's story that begins in a simple note, branches up with several layers of complexities of life and people..He grows up very slowly that at times the reader miss to realize them..During the start of the journey, he builds up a cart out of scrap to push his ill mother through to her hometown, escapes the confinement of prison faking as a dead man..Learns the art of survival through evrey experience he goes on with....The novel is set into three different parts one from Michael's point of view then from the authors point of view, a third person account and back to Michael's point of view...I loved Michael's vantage more but  the third person account helped  me to define Michael better...The book is not about overcoming the physical obstacles one has to overcome but also finding strength to live with dignity in the face of prejudice and bigotry...The images and symbols of life and its adverse circumstances are brought up well by Coetzee..Its an absorbing tale  that is decently portrayed....The novel also discusses the reason for the war, minorities should have a asay in the governance a superficial reason from the vantage of democratic idealism...But the time were during the period when the place was ruled by the white minority over the black majority.....Not a light read, go for it if you have time for a thoughtful read...I am looking forward to read Coetzee's Disgrace...

Book 7 for TBR challenge


  1. I love your commentary as it really imparts a comprehensive picture of what you read.

    This sounds really good on many ways.

    This era in South African history is little known to most people especially in the USA. It is encouraging that someone has written what seems like a quality novel on the subject.

  2. I llike to read life and times of Michael k in the Economic deprivation and pangs.War also factors causes of the economic depravtion of the michale k life. more than that he is physically weak , uneducated and lack of the training. so, his life have a pangs due to the incapability enough earning

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