"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.... Mr. Coetzee knows the elusive terror of Kafka." —Bernard Levin, The Sunday Times (London)
From the Inside Flap
Set in an isolated outpost on the edge of a great Empire, WAITING FOR THE BARBARIANS is a startling allegory of the war between oppressor and oppressed. The Magistrate, the novel's fascinating narrator, has been a loyal servant of the Empire, running the affairs of the frontier settlement, dabbling in antiquarianism, and ignoring constant reports of a threat from the "barbarians" who inhabit the uncharted deserts beyond the village. But when military personnel arrive with captured barbarians, he becomes witness to a cruel and unjust defense of the Empire. Outraged and, with military command controlling his village, powerless to prevent the persecution of the barbarians, he finds himself involved in an affair with one of the victims, a girl crippled, blinded, and orphaned by the torturers. Their relationship, intimate but devoid of true understanding, finally pushes him to a quixotic act of rebellion that brands him an enemy of the state. Rendered in an austere but richly suggestive prose, Coetzee's novel addresses universal political and philosophical issues of power and justice.
--This text refers to an alternate