Review: The life and times of Michael K. – J.M.Coetzee

Michael K goes through his life being either underestimated – assumed to be stupid for being a young man with a cleft palate – or over estimated – assumed to be part of the resistance against the war for being a loner living in a self made hole in the countryside.
Neither of these assumptions are true, however he is a loner whose cleft palate, neither he nor his mother ever seemed interested in having operated on, who would rather live outside the confines of society and be alone with his thoughts and his gardening even if that means half starving to death. Although Michael is portrayed as a simpleton he outwits his captors on more than one occasion leading to escape and a return to the way of life he wants ‘not part of the war’.
I only reviewed Coetzee’s other booker prize winner ‘Disgrace’ a week or so before this one, so it was interesting to read these back to back. I definitely preferred this novel to Disgrace, it felt a lot more human and the characters more likeable – although both have a somewhat vague and open ended ending.

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