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TV influence on kids more than books, says Coetzee

Stockholm, Dec. 6 (Reuters): South African novelist J.M. Coetzee, winner of this year’s Nobel literature prize, believes television has replaced books as a source of imagination for many children.

“I read a great deal as a child,” Coetzee said in a rare interview broadcast on Swedish SVT public service television yesterday. “I did have a sense that there was a certain devotion to the book in the family.

“A lot of children go through a phase of reading in a literally voracious way, it is their primary imaginative activity. Maybe that’s an experience which is not so common anymore with the presence of television in every home,” he said, noting that his own childhood was in the 1940s and 1950s.

Coetzee, a politically engaged anti-apartheid champion known for novels such as Disgrace and Dusklands, will receive his 10 million crown ($1.3 million) prize together with the medicine, physics, chemistry and economics laureates in Stockholm on December 10. The Nobel prizes awarded since 1901 were founded in the will of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel who invented dynamite.

Coetzee described his own academic career as “haphazard” but said he was now very happy at the Committee of Social Thought at the University of Chicago in the US where he spends part of each year teaching.

The white South African author who emigrated to Australia in 2001 declined to discuss his books.

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