Samuel Beckett and J.M. Coetzee are examined in postcolonial terms, in particular how negotiating a path within the vernacular and cosmopolitan impacts upon their aesthetic practice. Beckett's ambiguous relation with Ireland and Coetzee's no less fraught relation to his homeland are seen to give raise to a fear of the imposition of identity, either from the local or from the cosmopolitan perspective. For both, the position of the author is also implicated in the imposition of power inherent in the novel form. The manner in which both question the imposition of colonial and national identities is detailed and the ethical and aesthetic response they then fashion is examined. By placing Beckett alongside Coetzee in this manner, both writers are seen to be deeply involved with historical and local determinants that inform the paradox of postcolonial authorship in which one struggles to avoid reinstating the very structures and techniques of power one is criticizing.