"J.M. Coetzee's novels are characterized by their well-crafted composition, pregnant dialogue and analytical brillance. But at the same time he is a scrupulous doubter, ruthless in his criticism of the cruel rationalism and cosmetic morality of western civilization," the Swedish Academy wrote.
His novels, largely focused on South Africa and apartheid, include "Dusklands," "Waiting for the Barbarians," and "Life and Times of Michael K" for which he won the UK's prestigious Booker Prize in 1983. He won a second Booker in 1999 for "Disgrace," set on a remote South African farm.
The Nobel committee said, "Extensive reading reveals a recurring pattern, the downward spiralling journeys he considers necessary for the salvation of his characters. His protagionists are overwhelmed by the urge to sink but paradoxically derive strength from being stripped of all external dignity."
Coetzee has taught at the University of New York in Buffalo, in Cape Town and currently is at the University of Adelaide in Australia.
Coetzee will receive a prize of 10 million Swedish krona (USD 1.3 million). The prizes will be awarded in formal ceremonies Dec. 10, the birth date of Alfred Nobel.