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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 December, 2003, 17:14 GMT
Coetzee receives Nobel honour
JM Coetzee
Coetzee has twice won the Booker Prize
Reclusive South African writer JM Coetzee has been presented with the 2003 Nobel Prize for Literature.

He was also given a cheque for more than 10 million kronor ($1.3m) at a ceremony in Stockholm led by Swedish monarch King Carl XVI Gustaf.

John Maxwell Coetzee, 63, a two-time Booker Prize winner, is the second South African to be awarded the Nobel Prize after Nadine Gordimer in 1991.

The Swedish Academy praised his literary critiques of Western society.

"Coetzee sees through the obscene poses and false pomp of history," Swedish Academy member Per Waestberg told Coetzee when presenting him with the award.

"With intellectual honesty and density of feeling, in a prose of icy precision, you have unveiled the masks of our civilization and uncovered the topography of evil."

Well-crafted composition, pregnant dialogue and analytical brilliance
Nobel Academy on Coetzee's books

The Academy earlier described him as "a scrupulous doubter, ruthless in his criticism of the cruel rationalism and cosmetic morality of Western civilization".

It also cited his "well-crafted composition, pregnant dialogue and analytical brilliance" in more than a dozen novels.

Coetzee is a solitary figure, who rarely communicates with the media and prefers doing so by e-mail.

He declined to collect his two Booker prizes in the UK, but was in Stockholm to accept the Nobel - although he did not attend the traditional news conference.

Coetzee, who is attached to the University of Adelaide and distinguished service professor at the University of Chicago, was the first writer to win the Booker twice - in 1983 for The Life & Times of Michael K and 1999 for Disgrace.

He also won the 2000 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Disgrace.

Previous winners

Alfred Nobel, after whom the prize is named, was a Swedish industrialist and the inventor of dynamite. The award is always presented on 10 December, the anniversary of his death in 1896.

Previous winners of the prize include Seamus Heaney, Guenter Grass, Dario Fo and Jean-Paul Satre.

Coetzee is not well-known in his native South Africa and few newspapers bothered to report his Nobel win, said the BBC's Barnaby Phillips in South Africa.

"Local newspapers have shown no interest... and black intellectuals say he is not a worthy winner," he said in a report for the BBC's Today programme on Radio 4.

Interviewing white South Africans in a Johannesburg suburb and black students at Witwatersrand university , Phillips found few people who had heard of the writer or knew about his Nobel.

The BBC's Barnaby Phillips
"Black intellectuals say Coetzee is not a worthy winner"

Coetzee wins Nobel literature prize
02 Oct 03  |  Entertainment
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02 Oct 03  |  Entertainment
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26 Oct 99  |  Entertainment

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