Book Review – Michael K: A Novel

Michael K: A Novel by Nthikeng Mohlele (Picador Africa) ISBN  9781770104792

I appreciated the literary value in this book but was drawn to the philosophical and psychological elements: How and why the narrator is obsessed with Michael K. And the contrast shown between the narrator and his friend on the meaning of their lives.

According to people on Dust Island, Michael K arrives one morning on truck, chooses a spot, sets down his broken red bucket, some fisherman’s twine, a gardening tool and some seedlings. He chooses to be solitary.

The narrator is intrigued, fascinated, and confused by this mysterious man. Some say he is a vagabond who has lost his mind and others say he was born ahead of his time. He is resourceful, patient, adaptable and present. Many speculate and weave stories around him, noting his peculiar habits.

The narrator ponders how the unobtrusive solitary man can have such an influence on people. The narrator begins reflecting on his own life, intensely delving into his conscience. He longs to express himself through poetry, but finds it elusive.

The author, Nthikeng Mohlele, is paying homage to J.M. Coetzee’s Life and Times of Michael K. This is a masterful work of literary fiction.

Dawn Blankfield

Posted on: 10th July 2018