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National Waiting for the Barbarians Day – November 4, 2022

National Waiting For The Barbarians Day is observed every year on November 4 to commemorate South African-born Nobel laureate J. M. Coetzee’s eponymous novel. “Waiting For The Barbarians” was first published in 1980. The book is about a “The Magistrate,” who rules over a settlement on behalf of the Empire, of which he is a faithful servant. But certain events and the arrival of the interrogation experts jolts him into sympathy with the victims. The book describes his journey as he goes through a crisis of conscience and rebellion.

History of National Waiting for the Barbarians Day

John Maxwell Coetzee, born on February 9, 1940, in Cape Town, is a South African-Australian novelist, essayist, linguist, and translator. He is among the most critically acclaimed writers in the English language. Along with the Nobel Prize, he has also won the Booker Prize, the C.N.A. Prize, and holds several other awards along with honorary doctorates.

He was the first writer to be awarded the Booker Prize twice, once for “Life & Times of Michael K,” in 1983, and again in 1999 for “Disgrace.”

He has spent time working in many different places around the world including London, New York, and Texas. He currently lives in Adelaide, Australia. There, he was made an honorary research fellow at the English Department of the University of Adelaide. He is listed as a Professor of Literature in English and Creative Writing at the school.

“Waiting For The Barbarians,” published in 1980, was chosen by Penguin Books for its series “Great Books of the 20th Century.” It also won both the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize for fiction.

Coetzee is said to have taken the title from the 1904 poem “Waiting for the Barbarians” by the Greek poet Constantine P. Cavafy. Coetzee was also heavily influenced by it.

National Waiting for the Barbarians Day timeline

1940
Cape Town

John Maxwell Coetzee is born on February 9 to Zacharias Coetzee, an occasional attorney and government employee, and Vera Coetzee, a schoolteacher.

1962
United Kingdom

Coetzee moves to the United Kingdom and works as a computer programmer for I.B.M. and the I.C.T. in Bracknell till 1965.

1965
The United States

Coetzee attends the University of Texas in the Fulbright Program, receiving his doctorate in 1969.

1972
Return to South Africa

Coetzee returns to South Africa and is appointed as a lecturer in the English Language Department at the University of Cape Town.

National Waiting for the Barbarians Day FAQs

Why did Coetzee leave South Africa?

Coetzee left several years ago as a result of a clash with the ruling African National Congress over his novel “Disgrace.”

Where do I start with Coetzee?

“Disgrace” might be a good book to get started with, along with “Life & Times of Michael K” and “Waiting For The Barbarians.”

Where was “Waiting For The Barbarians” filmed?

The movie was filmed in Morocco.

How to Observe National Waiting for the Barbarians Day

  1. Read the book

    Read the Coetzee novel to experience the literary masterpiece yourself. You can also pick up some of his other works.

  2. Watch the movie

    After you have read the novel, watch the 2019 movie. The movie starred Johnny Depp and Robert Pattinson.

  3. Visit South Africa

    Book your tickets to go to South Africa. Not only is it a beautiful country, but the novel is also intrinsically tied up with the nation.

5 Facts About South Africa That Will Blow Your Mind

  1. Go nuts

    South Africa is the world's largest producer of macadamia nuts.

  2. A country of geniuses

    South Africa is the only country in the world where a street has produced two Nobel Prize winners.

  3. Instrumental in medical advances

    The first heart transplant took place in 1967 and was performed by Dr. Christiaan Barnard in Cape Town.

  4. A major gold producer

    Around 20% of the world’s gold is mined in South Africa.

  5. Shipwrecks

    There are over 2,500 shipwrecks around the South African coast.

Why National Waiting for the Barbarians Day is Important

  1. Literary masterpiece

    “Waiting For The Barbarians,” quite simply put, is an important piece of literature that everyone should experience for themselves. Grab yourself a copy now!

  2. An important message

    The novel covers a range of themes including colonialism, the idea of othering, and the evils of imperialism. It is still an incredibly relevant book in this day and age.

  3. It is a wonderful read

    We love all the relaxing qualities of reading! Not only is it an educational experience, but the novel is also extremely well-written and a pleasure to read.

National Waiting for the Barbarians Day dates

YearDateDay
2022November 4Friday
2023November 4Saturday
2024November 4Monday
2025November 4Tuesday
2026November 4Wednesday

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