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Age Of Iron  
Author J. M. Coetzee
Country South Africa
Language English
Genre(s) Novel
Publisher Random House
Publication date October 1990
Media type Print (Hardback), (Paperback)
Pages 198 (hardback) 208pp (paperback)
ISBN ISBN 0140275657
OCLC Number 41354850

Age of Iron is a 1990 novel by South African Nobel Prize winner J. M. Coetzee. It is among his most popular works and was the 1990 Sunday Express Book of the Year. In it, he paints a picture of social and political tragedy unfolding in a country ravaged by racism and violence.

Plot summary

The novel depicts the inward journey of Mrs. Curren, an old classics professor. She lives in the Cape Town of the Apartheid era, where she is slowly dying of cancer. She has been philosophically opposed to the Apartheid regime her entire life, but has never taken an active stance against it. Now, at the end of her life, she finally comes face-to-face with the horrors of the system - she witnesses the burning of a black township and the killing of her servant's son, as well as the shooting by security forces of a young black activist whom she shelters in her house. Against a backdrop of violence by whites and blacks alike, Mrs. Curren remembers her past and her daughter, who left South Africa because of the situation in the country: the book is framed as an extended letter from the mother to her daughter in America. As the story progresses, she constructs a relationship of a different kind with Vercueil, an old homeless man who happens to be sleeping in her driveway, as well as finally becoming truly aware of Florence, her black live-in servant.

Coetzee brings together important themes in this book: aging, the confessor as hero, narrative representation, the meaning of freedom, and the position of the white liberal in Apartheid South Africa.

  • ISBN 0-14-027565-7


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