J.M. Coetzee is known for writing some pretty highbrow fiction, and Age of Iron stands as a case in point. While this novel definitely hooks you and takes you on an incredible ride, it is by no means your run-of-the-mill bestselling pop lit – no sir.
Age of Iron deals with some pretty heavy stuff: an unjust political system; racial violence; terminal illness. Even though you can totally argue that those subjects are what the novel is about, at its core, it seems as though Age of Iron is more about how those horrific things affect the characters themselves, both in terms of their relationships with one another as well as with themselves. You could go so far as to say that Age of Iron is really about Mrs. Curren coming to terms with her own perspectives on the world, her changing attitudes toward others, and her fears about her impending death. When we look at it as a novel about the psychological development of our narrator, Age of Iron is an almost textbook example of literary fiction.