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Cover for Waiting for the Barbarians

Waiting for the Barbarians

A Novel (Penguin Ink)

J. M. Coetzee, C. C. Askew (Illustrator)


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Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (4/29/1982)
Prebound (6/29/2010)
Compact Disc (3/2/2021)
Paperback (10/1/1999)
MP3 CD (5/12/2020)


A modern classic by Nobel Laureate J. M. Coetzee, now a major motion picture starring Robert Pattinson and Johnny Depp

For decades the Magistrate has run the affairs of a tiny frontier settlement, ignoring the impending war between the barbarians and the Empire whose servant he is. When interrogation experts arrive, however, he finds himself jolted into sympathy with their victims—until their barbarous treatment of prisoners of war finally pushes him into a quixotic act of rebellion, and thus into imprisonment as an enemy of the state.
Waiting for the Barbarians, J. M. Coetzee’s third novel, which won the James Tate Black Memorial Prize, is an allegory of the war between oppressor and oppressed. The Magistrate is not simply a man living through a crisis of conscience in an obscure place in remote times; his situation is that of all men living in unbearable complicity with regimes that elevate their own survival above justice and decency.

Praise For Waiting for the Barbarians: A Novel (Penguin Ink)

Praise for Waiting for the Barbarians:

“J.M. Coetzee’s vison goes to the nerve-center of being. What he finds there is more than most people will ever know about themselves, and he conveys it with a brilliant writer’s mastery of tension and elegance.” —Nadine Gordimer
“A remarkable and original book.” —Graham Greene
“Coetzee, with laconic brilliance, articulates one of the basic problems of our time—how to understand the mentality behind brutality and injustice.” —Anthony Burgess, New York

“A real literary event.” —Irving Howe, The New York Times Book Review

“I have known few authors who can evoke such a wilderness in the heart of a man . . . Coetzee knows the elusive terror of Kafka.” —Bernard Levin, The Sunday Times (London)

Penguin Books, 9780143116929, 192pp.

Publication Date: June 29, 2010

About the Author

J. M. Coetzee won the Nobel prize for Literature in 2003 and is the author of twenty-three books, which have been translated into many languages. He was the first author to be awarded the Booker Prize twice, first for Life & Times of Michael K and then for Disgrace. A native of South Africa, he now lives in Adelaide, Australia.