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South Africans Delighted by Coetzee's Nobel Award - 2003-10-02


In South Africa, fellow writers and politicians alike expressed delight at the selection of South African J.M. Coetzee as this year's Nobel Prize winner for Literature.

Acclaim is pouring in for JM Coetzee from Nadine Gordimer, South Africa's first Nobel literary laureate, to the ruling African National Congress.

Ms. Gordimer said the award was great for both Mr. Coetzee and for South Africa.

ANC Spokesman Smuts Ngonyama said in a statement that he hopes the recognition given to Mr. Coetzee will inspire young writers in South Africa and on the African continent, and will encourage appreciation by both publishers and readers of what he called the vast untapped literary potential of the African continent.

JM Coetzee was the first writer to win the Booker prize twice, most recently in 1999 for Disgrace, a searing post-apartheid novel about a father and daughter, each outcast by their peers and yet unable to accept or support one another.

Professor Stephen Watson of the University of Cape Town, Mr. Coetzee's alma mater, said the award came as no surprise. Professor Watson, who is head of the English department, said that the South African's writing is on a par with the best in the world. "I think that he has modernized South African literature," he said. "He has taken it out of what was once a fairly colonial context, and refracted so many of South Africa's dilemmas through a mind, his own, and a sensibility, which is as sophisticated as any, anywhere."

The author shuns the limelight, and did not collect the two Booker prizes in person. Mr. Coetzee now resides in Australia.

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