Waiting for the Barbarians: A Novel (Penguin Ink) (Paperback)
A modern classic by Nobel Laureate J. M. Coetzee, now a major motion picture starring Robert Pattinson and Johnny Depp
For decades the Magistrate has run the affairs of a tiny frontier settlement, ignoring the impending war between the barbarians and the Empire whose servant he is. When interrogation experts arrive, however, he finds himself jolted into sympathy with their victims—until their barbarous treatment of prisoners of war finally pushes him into a quixotic act of rebellion, and thus into imprisonment as an enemy of the state.
Waiting for the Barbarians, J. M. Coetzee’s third novel, which won the James Tate Black Memorial Prize, is an allegory of the war between oppressor and oppressed. The Magistrate is not simply a man living through a crisis of conscience in an obscure place in remote times; his situation is that of all men living in unbearable complicity with regimes that elevate their own survival above justice and decency.
About the Author
Born in Cape Town, South Africa, on February 9, 1940, John Michael Coetzee studied first at Cape Town and later at the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a Ph.D. degree in literature. In 1972 he returned to South Africa and joined the faculty of the University of Cape Town. His works of fiction include Dusklands, Waiting for the Barbarians, which won South Africa’s highest literary honor, the Central News Agency Literary Award, and the Life and Times of Michael K., for which Coetzee was awarded his first Booker Prize in 1983. He has also published a memoir, Boyhood: Scenes From a Provincial Life, and several essays collections. He has won many other literary prizes including the Lannan Award for Fiction, the Jerusalem Prize and The Irish Times International Fiction Prize. In 1999 he again won Britain’s prestigious Booker Prize for Disgrace, becoming the first author to win the award twice in its 31-year history. In 2003, Coetzee was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Praise for Waiting for the Barbarians:
“J.M. Coetzee’s vison goes to the nerve-center of being. What he finds there is more than most people will ever know about themselves, and he conveys it with a brilliant writer’s mastery of tension and elegance.” —Nadine Gordimer
“A remarkable and original book.” —Graham Greene
“Coetzee, with laconic brilliance, articulates one of the basic problems of our time—how to understand the mentality behind brutality and injustice.” —Anthony Burgess, New York
“A real literary event.” —Irving Howe, The New York Times Book Review
“I have known few authors who can evoke such a wilderness in the heart of a man . . . Coetzee knows the elusive terror of Kafka.” —Bernard Levin, The Sunday Times (London)