J.M. Coetzee’s novels offer a tragic representation of cosmopolitism. The desire for reciprocal exchanges with the Other is always hampered by the colonial context. In Waiting for the Barbarians and Foe, the narrative manages to create a tension between attempts at a reciprocal relationship with the Other – whether a barbarian or a slave – and the knowledge that they can never be entirely successful, so that the promise of reciprocity remains but a promise, raising expectations that will never be satisfied.
M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians, Foe, cosmopolitism, exchanges with the Other.