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Life and Times of Michael K

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  12,161 Ratings  ·  702 Reviews
From author of Waiting for the Barbarians and Nobel Prize winner J.M. Coetzee

J.M. Coetzee's latest book co-written with Arabella Kurtz, The Good Story, is now available from Viking Books


In a South Africa turned by war, Michael K. sets out to take his ailing mother back to her rural home. On the way there she dies, leaving him alone in an anarchic world of brutal roving arm
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Paperback, 184 pages
Published January 8th 1985 by Penguin Books (first published 1983)
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Lizzy
Just a few words, a first step...

Life and Times of Michael K completely lived up to what I expected from J.M. Coetzee, after having been overwhelmed by his Disgrace. It is much more than the slow thinking Michael K. It is about his inner strenght and his search for survival, in a world in which we are eminently alone. But it goes beyond even that, it is about the depths one can reach through the things we value, and their meanings when they are extensions of one’s true self.

If life is a journey,
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Dolors
Jul 28, 2014 Dolors rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gardeners of the soul
Shelves: read-in-2014
Three allegoric movements compose this symphonic tale, whose inert melody is inwardly repeated in a concentric canon of voices where character, writer and reader create a fused metanarration alternating rhythms of disquiet, frigidity and discomfort.

It all starts with bafflement.
Michael K is an outsider with a harelip, a defective soul whom people take for an indolent moron, a wooden man thrown into the battlefield of life with a past as opaque as his present and as elusive as his future.
I read s
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Samadrita
Ask me to pronounce verdict on a work of literature flaunting mere self-indulgent wordplay, revelling in its own brand of avant-gardism, which stops short of making a powerful statement on our troubled times, and my response to it is likely to be lukewarm.
Ask me to judge a book dissecting the greater human quandary with keen insight but in stilted prose, and my reaction will possibly be more or less the same.

But give me a story capable of dismantling all the divides of race, culture, political
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David
Jan 05, 2010 David rated it really liked it
~ This review dedicated to 'Ya Boy.' I'ma sip this, you do the rest. ~

The Community of Misery

'Misery loves company.' I've always kind of really hated that expression because (rightly or not) I've usually deciphered the unsettling subtext whenever it's employed: i.e., that people -- experiencing misfortunes or enduring profound unhappiness -- prefer that others are likewise afflicted.

When I was younger, for instance, my father, a nouveau riche who absurdly prided himself on the mythologized 'p
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D. Pow
Jul 07, 2009 D. Pow rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have been thinking how much a good book is like an organic thing. When the proper level of alchemical transformation is reached between a skilled author at the top of his game and a reader with the proper level of receptivity and empathy then something new and wonderful is birthed. You are no longer dealing with some pulped paper glued together with some artful(or not) cover protecting its frail glyphs but you are in the presence of something larger, vaster and infinitely more sacred than just ...more
Paul Bryant
Jun 10, 2008 Paul Bryant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
***CONTAINS SPOILERS I.E. HIGHLY INSULTING REMARKS ABOUT THE LAST PART OF THE BOOK***

Uh oh. Last thing I want to do is fall out with my bookfacingoodreadinfingerlickin friends such as Donald and Jessica, both of whom think this is so good you have to invent a new word for it, good just isn't good enough, brilliant is almost an insult. So as you can tell, I didn't share those views. I was so gripped by this book, couldn't wait to get back and finish it today, and then i hit the Doctor's Tale (las
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Glenn Sumi
During a civil war in South Africa, Michael K., a simple man born with a harelip, tries to get help for his sick mother; then, after she dies, he attempts to take her ashes to the farm where she grew up.

There’s something powerful yet elusive about this short novel by Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee. As in his other Booker Prize-winning novel, Disgrace , this fictional world is simultaneously familiar and nightmarish.

The spirit of Franz Kafka hovers over the book: in the protagonist’s name (think of
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Seemita
"War is the father of all and king of all. Some he shows as gods, others as men. Some he makes slaves and others, free."

But how does one differentiate between The Slave and The Free? Is that Man a slave, whose captivity by the victor frees him of his worldly expectations? Or should we call that Man, free who has no kin to bother about since they have all been enslaved in the war fire? Is it possible to live a life without succumbing to either side? Or is it inevitable to be one without being t
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Jessica
Dec 17, 2008 Jessica rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: novel readers, social workers, gardeners
Recommended to Jessica by: coterie of rabid coetzee maniacs who have infiltrated this site
Obviously there're a lot of people out there who write much better than I do, and in this way I feel writing's similar to distance running. I can run a passable marathon, though of course a lot of amateur runners out there run a much faster one. I'm impressed by people who run faster than I can, just as I am by those who write better than me. These people are humbling, but they're also inspiring: reading good writing or watching good running makes me want to write better and run faster. It's hea ...more
Ben
Life and Times of Michael K completely lives up to the hype and deserves every fucking award it has received. Both corporeally and allegorically it is as deep as they come; it isn’t just about the slow thinking Michael K. trying to survive; it is about inner strength, our perceptions of others, individuality in a world in which we are alone; it is about how we view meaning, and the depths one can reach through those meanings when they are extensions of one’s true self.

Coetzee amazed me....take a
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FeReSHte
Apr 28, 2015 FeReSHte rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa
لحن و فضای داستان اون قدر یکنواخت و یکدسته که با وجود همه ی اتفاقات ریز و درشت و همه ی فراز و فرود هایی که به سر مایکل میاد حین خوندن چیزی حس نخواهید کرد. همه چیز عادی به نظر میاد و از هیچ چیز شگفت زده نخواهید شد. فضایی که شاید برای خیلی ها خسته کننده به نظر بیاد

اوایل داستان بخصوص کل فصل اول من رو به شدت یاد "جاده" نوشته ی"کورمکارتی" مینداخت. سفر و جاده و تلاش برای بقا و تک شخصیتی بودن داستان و مهم نبودن سایر افراد. با این تفاوت که دنیای داستان جاده به اخر رسیده و دنیای داستان مایکل اسیر جنگ شده
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C.
Oct 09, 2008 C. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to C. by: Most of goodreads
Shelves: 2009
Huh.

The prose was detached and lifeless, as I have come to expect from Coetzee. Which leaves you cold and alone. In the rain, outside on the deserted street gazing at the lighted windows of the stalinesque apartment buildings across the road. And inside you there's this dull ache of hollowness that is where the prose would be if it was there. And because you are so empty there is a sort of lack that swells and swells until it fills you whole and spills over into your thoughts and your actions. A
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Quân Khuê
May 06, 2013 Quân Khuê rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Với tôi, một cuốn sách hay là một cuốn sách nhiều gợi mở. Cuộc đời và thời đại của Michael K đích xác là một cuốn sách như thế. Gạt qua chủ đề số phận con người trong chiến tranh mà ta có thể dễ dàng tìm thấy trong nhiều cuốn sách khác, với cuốn sách này Coetzee đã tạo ra một nhân vật CON NGƯỜi phản chiến huy hoàng nhất theo một cách ít ai ngờ tới nhất. Nói như viên bác sĩ chữa bệnh cho Michael, Michael là một con người quý giá, một con người cuối cùng thuộc loại người của anh, một sinh vật bị b ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
266. The Life And Times of Michael K, J.M. Coetzee
زندگی و زمانه مایکل ک - جی.ام. کوتسیا (فرهنگ نشر نو) ادبیات

زندگی و زمانه مایکل ک، کتاب آسانی نیست، تا بتوانم آن را در یکی دو جمله یا پاراگراف تفسیر کنم. بعد از رسیدن به جایی از کتاب، دیگر دلم آرام نبود، همچو آنروزهای شیرین عسلی که کتابهای رولان، و جان شیفته اش، روح و جانم را تسخیر کرده بود، شاید هم برای همذات پنداری با «ک» که آهسته می اندیشید، کتاب را آهسته خواندم، گاه تنها یک پارگراف را میخواندم. نویسنده انگار، کامپیوتر و زبان شناسی خوانده باشد.
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Thodoris Fotoglou
Μονο ευχάριστη έκπληξη αποτέλεσε η αγορά αυτού του συγκεκριμένου βιβλίου.Εξαντλημενο εδω και καιρό το βρηκα σε παλαιοβιβλιοπωλείο της οδού Ιπποκρατους όπου μπορεί κανείς να βρει μικρούς "θησαυρούς".Ο Κουτςί στα πρώτα του βήματα στο συγκεκριμένο βιβλιο θα αποσπάσει το πρώτο του Μπούκερ και θα αποτελέσει το λογοτεχνικό του υπόβαθρο σε όλο το μετέπειτα θρίαμβο του,2ο βραβείο Μπουκερ το 1999 για την ατίμωση και Νόμπελ λογοτεχνίας 4 χρονια αργότερα.Το "Βίος και πολιτεια του Μαικλ Κ" αξιζει να διαβαστ ...more
Fabian
Jun 16, 2011 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh these powerful novels/novellas! My favorite, I think, must be Graham Greene's "The Quiet American" (& his "Brighton Rock" comes a shy second), but lately I've discovered that the much-revered South African titan of lit J. M. Coetzee has a similar (enviable) gift for packing a tremendous wallop in such a tiny package.

The writer has a confidence which is rivaled only by the avid devotion to his topic: mainly of the modern war, or, perhaps more aptly, the Holocaust in that bottom-most regio
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Temuka Zoidze
Aug 11, 2016 Temuka Zoidze rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
ომზე ბევრი წიგნი დაწერილა და ბევრიც წაგვიკითხავს გაუპატიურებულ ქალებზე, მშიერ ბავშვებზე, დახოცილ მოხუცებსა თუ უდანაშაულო ჯარისკაცებეზე, მაგრამ "მაიკლ კეის ცხოვრება და დროება" ამ ომების სხვა მსხვერპლზე მოგვითხრობს.
მაიკლ კეი კურდღლის ტუჩით დაიბადა, მაგრამ 31 წლის ასაკში მისი შეცვლა არ სურს, რადგან უნდა ისეთივე დარჩეს, როგორიც არის.
მაიკლ კეის სჯერა, რომ მის მიერ შეკეთებულ ურიკაში დედას ჩასვამს, ასობით მილს გაივლის და მოხუც დედას სიკვდილის წინა ოცნებას აუსრულებს.
მაიკლ კეის სწამს, რომ მიუხედავად ომის
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Hadrian
Feb 09, 2013 Hadrian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, fiction
A novel in parts. The first being a comically miserable little tale of a Kafka character in Sud-Afrika, the second of a doctor's philosophical investigations of this man, and the third being some hippy-dippy nonsense.

Trevor
Sep 30, 2010 Trevor rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
For about two-thirds of this I couldn’t have been more fascinated. However, something really strange happens two-thirds of the way in that I found very disappointing. The story goes from omniscient narration, first person directed to straight first person narration. Now, this would have been bad enough if the new narrator had been the voice of the person out of whose eyes the rest of the book had been seen – but it was someone else entirely. I got the feeling that the main reason for this was th ...more
Violet wells
Nov 13, 2014 Violet wells rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Both brilliant and flawed. The writing is fabulous. And it’s a tremendous achievement of imaginative prowess. The story is about Michael, a young black man who is born with a harelip and thus has difficulty speaking which he rarely does. He grows up in a home for handicapped children. He has no father and his mother is a servant in Cape Town. Michael works as a gardener. South Africa is in the grip of civil war. When his mother becomes ill she asks to be taken back to her childhood home, a remot ...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
This book was very Kafkaesque. I do not say that lightly, since it tends to be a hackneyed short-form that passes for literary criticism by those who read The Metamorphosis in high school, and haven't touched Kafka since then. But this novel wasn't just Kafkaesque, it was so reminiscent and derivative (complete with heavy-handed and direct allusions to The Hunger Artist and The Castle), that at one point, I thought I might well have given up on it and just read ... Kafka.

But wait -- the best bi
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فهد الفهد
حياة وزمن مايكل ك

أي شقاء هي حياة مايكل ك!! وأي زمن هو زمنه!!

حصلت هذه الرواية على جائزة البوكر سنة 1983 م، الكاتب هو الجنوب أفريقي الشهير جي. إم. كويتسي صاحب روايتي (في انتظار البرابرة) و(خزي).

تذكرنا هذه الرواية بانتظار البرابرة، لا... لا يوجد تشابه في الأحداث، ولكنه فقط تشابه في البؤس، تشابه في تحول الإنسان إلى لا شيء في وجه أحداث عاصفة، في حالة مايكل ك العاصفة هي حرب أهلية مدمرة، حرب خيالية، تركت جنوب أفريقيا في حالة ما بعد الحرب، حيث الحكومة متحفزة ورجال العصابات يقومون بغزواتهم المدمرة من
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Kaloyana
May 19, 2010 Kaloyana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Така, така... Явно Кутси не може да пише по друг начин освен силно, много силно, смилено, потресаващо, умопомрачително добре. Така само ограничава възможността ми аз да кажа нещо смислено и различно за книгите му. Но това си е мой проблем :)

Майкъл К. е роден със заешка устна. Според околните е леко бавноразвиващ се, но читателят остава с друго впечатление - човек, който не е част от системата, не мисли и не реагира като Цялото. А щом е така, значи нещо не е наред. Това предопределя различния жив
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Shovelmonkey1
Jun 30, 2011 Shovelmonkey1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone and 1001 book readers
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 book list
Normally when I write a review I like to be a bit sarcastic, or sometimes poke fun at the subject matter. This is not a book for sarcasm and I've had to set down my pointy mirth stick (the one I normally use for the poking of the fun).

Life and Times of Michael K is many thing
Poignant
Brief
Tragic

The writing has a sort of cold clarity, like a first breath of icy cold air on a winters morning which makes your lungs ache. Michael K is living in a war zone. He is an intelligent man who appreciates th
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Ammara Abid
Oct 02, 2016 Ammara Abid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recommendations
"The obscurest of the obscure, so obscure as to be a prodigy".

"He was living beyond the reach of calendar and clock in a blessedly neglected corner, half awake, half asleep".

"If he ate, eating what he could find, it was because he had not yet shaken off the belief that bodies that do not eat die."

'Life & times of Michael K'
[A real page-turner]
This book is Incredibly awesome though every page makes my heart cringe but this is really something very powerful yet shattering. :'( You are
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Richard
Jan 16, 2009 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Is There Joy in Utter Destitution?

Musings on The Life and Times of Michael K.

When I was thirteen, we moved out to a smallholding on the outskirts of Johannesburg. We still refer to it as “The Farm”, but only about a third of the land was arable, the rest was slate, covered with a thin crust of dust and scrub. There was a borehole and an orchard, a vegetable patch, chickens, three horses, two donkeys, a cow, and two pigs. There was also a family of nine – Wilson and Rebecca M. and their seven chi
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Rayroy
Jan 26, 2013 Rayroy rated it it was amazing
Michael K wants no part of the Civil War taking place in South Africa, he works at a park in Cape Town, and takes care of his mother, expect that it rains all the time, everything is wet inside the house, Michael takes care of his mother in and lives in,rocks have been thrown through all the windows,so it's wet insdie. What are son and mother, who can't stand up on her weak legs, to do but leave and move out to the country away from the cold rain and strife of the city? This isn’t safe as they ...more
Banushka
Jan 31, 2017 Banushka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
yazın okuduğum Barbarları Beklerken'i daha çok beğendimse de Michael K Nasıl Yaşadı, özellikle içinde bulunduğumuz günlerde çok etkili.
güney afrika cumhuriyeti'nde nedenini bir türlü anlayamadığı bir savaşın içindeki doğuştan tavşan dudaklı, kıt zekalı, anasının bile yetiştirme yurduna terk ettiği michael k'nin yaşama içgüdüsü bir yandan dünyanın adaletsizliğini gözler önüne seriyor, bir yandan insanın aslında ne denli güçlü olduğunu hissettiriyor.
devletin savaş bahanesiyle yaptıkları, halkın sa
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Edgar Trevizo
Sep 04, 2012 Edgar Trevizo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Este debe ser uno de los libros más hermosos, profundos y rebosantes de tesoros de toda la literatura. Es, sin duda, uno de los más entrañables. Tu cucharilla, Michael, la llevo desde hace años echando raíces en el corazón.
Yossi
Feb 15, 2013 Yossi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Muy "kafkiano" en muchos aspectos, una de las mejores historias sobre la libertad individual y la dignidad que he leído y un final magnífico.
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John Maxwell Coetzee is an author and academic from South Africa. He is now an Australian citizen and lives in South Australia.
A novelist and literary critic as well as a translator, Coetzee has won the Booker Prize twice and was awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature.
More about J.M. Coetzee...

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“He thought of himself not as something heavy that left tracks behind it, but if anything, as a speck upon the surface of an earth too deeply asleep to notice the scratch of ant feet, the rasp of butterfly teeth, the tumbling of dust” 12 likes
“He even knew the reason why: because enough men had gone off to war saying the time for gardening was when the war was over; whereas there must be men to stay behind and keep gardening alive, or at least the idea of gardening; because once that cord was broken, the earth would grow hard and forget her children. That was why.” 10 likes
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