Life and Times of Michael K by J.M. Coetzee
In the midst of a futuristic South African civil war, Michael K lives to survive, and that is all. He has no wants and needs other than to be left alone. I spent the first portion of the book feeling sorry for Michael, who was born with a cleft lip and is alternately pitied and despised as he tries to find a bit of earth were he might live in peace. In the end, however, I found that facing the charity of the world was Michael’s greatest struggle of all, and I had succumbed to pitying him just as had those he met. Michael didn’t want to be different from anyone else.
Life and Times of Michael K was written in very straight-forward language that was both intriguing to read and challenging to embrace, leaving me with mixed feelings about this book. However, the writing perfectly matched the character of Michael K and properly told his story. Michael K’s story is the story of a human searching for himself and his purpose on the earth. Just as the language was both a challenge and a reprieve to read, the story of Michael’s life is both depressing and inspiring.
Life and Times of Michael K is a slim volume, just 184 pages, but I would argue that it is a masterful work that captures the struggling inherent in our human nature. I would recommend this book.
Have you read Nobel-prizing winning author J.M. Coetzee? Which novel do you recommend I read next?