Queen's University

Nobel Prize winning author coming to Queen’s


One of the world’s greatest and most reclusive writers is coming to Queen’s University to take part in an international writers’ workshop.

What makes the appearance of the South African-born writer J.M. Coetzee, winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Literature, truly special is he rarely makes public appearances. English professor Rosemary Jolly says it’s a huge honour to have him here.

“I’m thrilled John is coming to Kingston,” said Dr. Jolly. “Despite the fact he is a Nobel Prize winning writer, he doesn’t have a publicist and he doesn’t do publicity. Any academic institution or book festival in the world would be honoured to have him as a guest.” Dr. Jolly notes that Coetzee is travelling from his home in Adelaide, Australia to Kingston to participate in the conference: a long distance by any reckoning.

There are a number of factors that help Queen’s land the publicity shy writer – who did not appear in person to pick up either of his two Booker awards (one the top literary prizes in the world). The main reason – he is friends with Dr. Jolly, who has known Dr. Coetzee since the late 1980s. Queen’s is also the top university in Canada for Coetzee studies. And Queen’s English is delighted to build its relations with local creative writers, showcasing authors participating in the Queen’s workshop at Kingston WritersFest.

Dr. Coetzee has never been to Kingston but his 2009 book Summertime features a lengthy interview between two characters that takes place in the Limestone City. And because Queen’s is a smaller town and not a major media centre like New York or London, Dr. Coetzee doesn’t have to worry about masses of reporters.

Writers and academics from around the world (including South Africa, Australia and the U.S.) will be taking part in the Queen’s conference, which will examine themes explored in Coetzee’s novels – themes that are also the subject of the doctoral dissertations of Dr. Jolly’s award-winning PhD candidates in English and the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies.

If the public wants a chance to see Dr. Coetzee in person, they are welcome to attend an evening of readings hosted by Queen’s on Sept. 26 at Portsmouth Olympic Harbour. Dr. Coetzee is also taking part in the Kingston WritersFest international marquee event at the Grand Theatre on Sept. 22.

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Last updated at 4:16 pm EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
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