One of the two books that J. M. Coetzee won the Booker Prize for (he was also awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize for Literature), The Life and Times of Michael K. is the story of a simple man attempting to survive (from without) in a society that has seen its humanity perverted by war into horror. He is trying only to live in quiet absence and is senselessly thwarted at every turn. Like all of the rest of Coetzee's work, Life and Times is something more than shattering, more than moving.
In a south Africa turned by war, Michael K. sets out to take his ailing mother back to her rural home. On the way there she dies, leaving him alone in an anarchic world of brutal roving armies. Imprisoned, Michael is unable to bear confinement and escapes, determined to live with dignity. This life affirming novel goes to the center of human experience-the need for an interior, spiritual life; for some connections to the world in which we live; and for purity of vision.