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Waiting for the Barbarians

Waiting for the Barbarians

J. M. Coetzee

  • awardShortlisted, Best Designed Series, Australian Book Design Awards, 2020
  • Introduction by Sisonke Msimang

    How do you eradicate contempt, especially when that contempt is founded on nothing more substantial than differences in table manners, variations in the structure of the eyelid? Shall I tell you what I sometimes wish? I wish that these barbarians would rise up and teach us a lesson, so that we would learn to respect them.

    After twenty years of peacefully running one of the Empire’s settlements, a magistrate takes pity on an enemy barbarian who has been tortured. He enters into an awkward intimate relationship with her, and then is himself imprisoned as an enemy of the state.

    Waiting for the Barbarians is a disturbing political fable about oppression, the fraught desire for reparation, and about living with a troubled conscience under an unjust regime. In examining who we think we are, Coetzee probes our dreams, thoughts, shame and desires.

    In awarding the Nobel Prize to Coetzee in 2003, the committee called this lauded novel ‘a political thriller in the tradition of Joseph Conrad, in which the idealist’s naiveté opens the gates to horror’.

    J. M. Coetzee
    About the Author

    J. M. Coetzee was the first author to win the Booker Prize twice and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003. His work includes Waiting for the Barbarians, Life and Times of Michael K, The Master of Petersburg, Disgrace and Diary of a Bad Year. He lives in Adelaide.

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    Sisonke Msimang
    About the Introducer

    Sisonke Msimang was born in exile to South African parents—a freedom fighter and an accountant—and raised in Zambia, Kenya and Canada before studying in the US as an undergraduate. Her family returned to South Africa after apartheid was abolished in the early 1990s.

    Sisonke has held fellowships at Yale University, the Aspen Institute and the...

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    Extent:
    192pp
    Format:
    Paperback
    Text publication date:
    2 July 2019
    ISBN:
    9781925773866
    AU Price:
    $19.99
    NZ Price:
    $24.00
    Australian
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    Praise for J. M. Coetzee
    andWaiting for the Barbarians

    ‘A real literary event.’

    ‘I have known few authors who can evoke such a wilderness in the heart of a man…Mr. Coetzee knows the elusive terror of Kafka.’

    ‘A power of historical immediacy gives this novel its thrust, its larger and, if you wish, universal value.’

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