Age of Iron

Age of Iron

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by J. M. Coetzee
     
 

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In Cape Town, South Africa, an old woman is dying of cancer. A classics professor, Mrs. Curren has been opposed to the lies and brutality of apartheid all her life, but has lived insulated from its true horrors. Now she is suddenly forced to come to terms with the iron-hearted rage that the system has wrought. In an extended letter addressed to her daughter, who

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Overview

In Cape Town, South Africa, an old woman is dying of cancer. A classics professor, Mrs. Curren has been opposed to the lies and brutality of apartheid all her life, but has lived insulated from its true horrors. Now she is suddenly forced to come to terms with the iron-hearted rage that the system has wrought. In an extended letter addressed to her daughter, who has long since fled to America, Mrs. Curren recounts the strange events of her dying days. She witnesses the burning of a nearby black township and discovers the bullet-riddled body of her servant's son. A teenage black activist hiding in her house is killed by security forces. And through it all, her only companion, the only person to whom she can confess her mounting anger and despair, is a homeless man, an alcoholic, who one day appears on her doorstep.

Brilliantly crafted and resonant with metaphor, Age of Iron is "a superbly realized novel whose truths cut to the bone." (The New York Times Book Review)

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A retired South African professor's letters to her daughter in America, telling both of her terminal cancer and of her country's afflictions, constitute a novel that moves with the implacability of a nightmare.
Library Journal
This is the South African novelist's most direct indictment of apartheid yet. It takes the form of a letter-diary from Mrs. Curren, a former classics professor dying of cancer, to her daughter in America. She details a series of strange events that turn her protected middle-class life upside down. A homeless alcoholic appears at her door, eventually becoming her companion and confessor. Her liberal sentiments and her very humanity are tested as she experiences directly the horrors of apartheid. She comes to recognize South Africa as a country in which the rigidity of both sides has led to barbarism and to acknowledge her complicity in upholding the system. Less allegorical than Coetzee's previous novels, this is still richly metaphoric. A brilliant, chilling look at the spiritual costs of apartheid. Recommended.-- Lawrence Rungren, Bedford Free P.L., Mass.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140275650
Publisher:
Viking Penguin
Publication date:
09/28/1998
Pages:
208
Product dimensions:
5.18(w) x 7.88(h) x 0.59(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"It is, quite simply, a magnificent and unforgettable work." —The Daily Telegraph

"Coetzee is one of the greatest writers of our time.... Age of Iron is taut, ironic, grieving and, finally, astonishing." —Los Angeles Times

"A remarkable work by a brilliant writer." —The Wall Street Journal

 

Meet the Author

Born in Cape Town, South Africa, on February 9, 1940, John Michael Coetzee studied first at Cape Town and later at the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a Ph.D. degree in literature. In 1972 he returned to South Africa and joined the faculty of the University of Cape Town. His works of fiction include Dusklands, Waiting for the Barbarians, which won South Africa’s highest literary honor, the Central News Agency Literary Award, and the Life and Times of Michael K., for which Coetzee was awarded his first Booker Prize in 1983. He has also published a memoir, Boyhood: Scenes From a Provincial Life, and several essays collections. He has won many other literary prizes including the Lannan Award for Fiction, the Jerusalem Prize and The Irish Times International Fiction Prize. In 1999 he again won Britain’s prestigious Booker Prize for Disgrace, becoming the first author to win the award twice in its 31-year history. In 2003, Coetzee was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

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Brief Biography

Hometown:
Adelaide, Australia
Date of Birth:
February 9, 1940
Place of Birth:
Cape Town, South Africa
Education:
B.A., University of Cape Town, 1960; M.A., 1963; Ph.D. in Literature, University of Texas, Austin, 1969

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Age of Iron 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
TexEx More than 1 year ago
Coetzee's work is always impressive. This book puts one through gut wrenching emotions as Coetzee forces one into impossible conflict in the changing world of South Africa, yet with poignant, supportive, unexpected relationships.
Airealataiel More than 1 year ago
I read this recently as a required book for a college freshman course. Given the topic, I hadn't expected to enjoy it so thoroughly, but with each passing page I found myself more engrossed. The style is unique and uncanny and perfectly satisfying. At times I wanted to slap the main character, and then I realized how well-written she was. Beyond just a good read, however, this story pushes the reader to examine deeper themes, such as termincal illness and the inevitability of death, individual truth and reality in life, and the effect of theory versus the effect of action. There is so much to be found between the covers of this phenomenal book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Im am a ninth grade student and Redmond High School and I read Age Of Iron by J.M. Coetzee for a five themes of geography application project and all though this book may have ben written at my reading level the book didnt keep my attention and make me finish one oage so I could comtinue to the next. For an age category beyond mine it may have appealed to that reading audience but it simply wasnt something I wanted to know about enough to thoroughly enjoy the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I disdain to criticize the previous reviewer, but this novel is among the most perfectly written in modern times. Coetzee's grasp of existential truth is unparalleled in modern literature. His depictions of the South African turmoil mirror perfectly the wringings of the soul. This is a work of pure dispair, infinite castigation and indictment, and the tender, but relentless, exposure of the heart. It was said in an orginal review of this book (NY Times?) that 'Coetzee tells truths that cut to the bone.' I recommend that anyone read this book, but God help you if you do. God help us all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have recently read this book for an application for honors 9 grography at Redmond High School in Oregon. This book is basicly a book written by an elderly women of her last days alive. The book helped my project by showing the movement of ideas which is a theme for geography. I felt that the Authors style of writting was vulgure and not really to the point. in this book however I learned that South Africa was a country in turmoil and needs alot of help. The Authors presentation of the subject was frankly not impressive. i feakt that this book was written at my grade level but it was just boreing. I would only recomend this book to a person who is not easily bored.