In a South Africa torn by civil war, Michael K sets out to take his mother back to her rural home. On the way there she dies, leaving him alone in an anarchic world of brutal roving armies. Imprisoned, Michael is unable to bear confinement and escapes, determined to live with dignity. Life and Times of Michael K goes to the centre of human experience the need for an interior, spiritual life, for some connections to the world in which we live, and for purity of vision.
Coetzee is a writer of clarifying inventiveness and translucent conviction....Mr. Coetzee's subdued yet urgent lament is for the sadness of a South Africa that has made dependents and parasites and prisoners of its own children, black and white....he discloses, in the language of imagination, the lumbering hoaxes and self-deceptions of stupidity. His theme is the wild and merciless power of inanity....For the sake of the innocent, time is Mr. Coetzee's hope. -- Cynthia Ozick