Life and Times of Michael K

Collection of J M Coetzee BooksCredit: andessurvivor

The first thing the midwife noticed about Michael K when she helped him out of his mother into the world was that he had a hare lip. The lip curled like a snail's foot, the left nostril gaped. Obscuring the child for a moment from its mother, she prodded open  the tiny bud of a mouth and was thankful to find the palate whole.

To the mother, she said: 'You should be happy, they bring luck to the household.' But from the first Anna K did not like the mouth that would not close and the living pink flesh it bared to her. She shivered to think of what had been growing in her all these months. The child could not suck from the breast and cried with hunger. She tried a bottle; when it could not suck from the bottle she fed it with a teaspoon, fretting with impatience when it coughed and spluttered and cried.

These are the first two paragraphs from Life and Times of Michael K by J.M.Coetzee, the novel which won the 1983 Man Booker Prize for fiction. It's a great book to read, and if you get into it, you may like to think about how Coetzee portrays his 'outsider' - can you compare Michael K with outsiders in other books, plays or poetry that you may have read?

Date posted: 

Tuesday 9 February 2016

Tags: