The Swedish Academy has this morning announced that this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature has been awarded to South African novelist J. M. Coetzee. From the New York Times:
“But at the same time,” it said, “he is a scrupulous doubter, ruthless in his criticism of the cruel rationalism and cosmetic morality of Western civilization.” It added, “It is in exploring weakness and defeat that Coetzee captures the divine spark in man.”
I am working with a student this semester who is writing his senior thesis in part on Coetzee, and so have been trying to catch up in my reading of his work. It’s a nice confluence, and this citation reveals one of those moments at which the Nobel’s evident political underpinnings are put to admirable use.