In one of the less well-known autobiographical pieces of J.M. Coetzee, “Homage”, published in “The Threepenny Review” in 1993, the South African Nobel Prize Winner writes about the influence of Kafka, Rilke, Musil, Pound, Faulkner, Ford Madox Ford, and Beckett on his work. It seems to me that Beckett's influence on Coetzee's writing is the deepest, although it is comparatively covert. Beckett has not, perhaps, yet, become the subject of Coetzee's novel – as Dostoyevsky and Defoe have in The Master of Petersburg and Foe respectively – but he unquestionably appears to be the strongest voice in Coetzee's personal literary canon. It is in Beckett's works that Coetzee finds a “style of response to experience – or (a more skeptical way of putting it) ways of conforming one's responses to experience.”
It is significant that Coetzee's birth as a writer is closely connected with his discovery of Beckett's second novel, Watt. In the last but one chapter of Youth, Coetzee's oblique memoir of 2002, we find the following passage:
He pages through it. […] From the first page he knows he has hit on something. Propped up in bed with light pouring through the window, he reads and reads.
Watt is quite unlike Beckett's plays. There is no clash, no conflict, just the flow of voice telling a story, a flow continually checked by doubts and scruples, its pace fitted exactly the pace of his own mind.