Life & Times of Michael K by JM Coetzee

This book was the choice of our book club friend (Grim Tim). Through him I have been introduced to The Road, Blood Meridian, Wool. You get the picture – dystopian or depressing.

Coetzee’s story of Michael K set in South Africa during a civil war reminded me of McCarthy’s work – beautifully written and disturbingly sad.

It’s the story of a so-called simple-minded young man, judged by his appearance, who has been moved to return his mother to
the land of her birth for her final days. A gentle gardener with a grim past set in a institute, he seeks freedom, self-sufficiency and a peaceful future. But he doesn’t hold the right ID cards to travel freely, nor the gift of a silver tongue to talk his way around tricky situations that include roadblocks, rebels, hunger, unforgiving weather and finally, incarceration in a detention camp.

When his mother dies on the journey, he decides to continue but finds himself drawn into a world he has no desire to join.

This could be a book about any refugee seeking a home and solace. The dispossessed are not invisible and Coetzee’s story may make some uncomfortable, but it is important one to be told.

My rating: ★★★

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