John Maxwell (J. M.) Coetzee is a novelist, essayist, linguist, translator and recipient of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature. Of South African origin, he is now an Australian citizen and lives in Adelaide, South Australia. Coetzee was born in Cape Town, Cape Province, Union of South Africa, on February 9, 1940 to parents of Afrikaner descent.
Coetzee spent most of his early life in Cape Town and in Worcester in Cape Province (modern-day Western Cape) as recounted in his fictionalized memoir, Boyhood (1997). Coetzee attended St. Joseph's College, a Catholic school in the Cape Town suburb of Rondebosch, and later studied mathematics and English at the University of Cape Town, receiving his Bachelor of Arts with Honors in English in 1960 and his Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Mathematics in 1961.
Coetzee relocated to the United Kingdom in 1962, where he worked as a computer programmer, staying until 1965. In 1963, while working in the UK, he was awarded a Master of Arts degree from the University of Cape Town for a dissertation on the novels of Ford Madox Ford. His experiences in England were later recounted in Youth (2002), his second volume of fictionalized memoirs.
Coetzee went to the University of Texas at Austin, in the United States, on the Fulbright Program in 1965. He received a PhD in linguistics there in 1969. His PhD thesis was on computer stylistic analysis of the works of Samuel Beckett. In 1968, he began teaching English literature at the State University of New York at Buffalo where he stayed until 1971. It was at Buffalo that he started his first novel, Dusklands. He then returned to South Africa to teach English literature at the University of Cape Town. Upon retiring in 2002, Coetzee relocated to Adelaide, Australia, where he was made an honorary research fellow at the English Department of the University of Adelaide.
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