Longlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize
David is the small boy who is always asking questions. Simón and Inés take care of him in their new country. He is learning the language; he has begun to make friends. He has the big dog Bolívar to watch over him. But he’ll be seven soon. He should be at school. And so David is enrolled in the Academy of Dance in Estrella. It’s here, in his new golden dancing slippers, that he learns how to call down the numbers from the sky. But it’s here too that he will make troubling discoveries about what grown-ups are capable of.
The Schooldays of Jesus, the startling sequel to J. M. Coetzee’s widely praised The Childhood of Jesus, will beguile its readers. With the mysterious simplicity of a fable, it tells a story that raises the most direct questions about life itself.
J. M. Coetzee is the first author to win the Booker Prize twice and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2003. His work includes Waiting for the Barbarians,Life and Times of Michael K, The Master of Petersburg, Disgrace, Diary of a Bad Year, The Childhood of Jesus and Three Stories. He lives in Adelaide.
The temperature rises ever so slightly in Nobel winner Coetzee's (The Childhood of Jesus) latest, the second installment of his wintry gospel that beguiles as often as it numbs. Coetzee's fable continues as S mon stolid, devoted and In s reticent, passionless have taken their ward, Dav d, and fled Novilla, the stultifying socialist city whose nightlife (which consists of philosophical lectures) is as flavorless as its dietary staple (bean paste). The nontraditional family begins yet another new life, now in a provincial town (in an unspecified country), Estrella, in "the year of the census." Dav d, the "magistral" child whose true name remains a mystery, enrolls in a dance academy whose instructors espouse mystical notions about embodied Platonic forms: "To bring the numbers down from where they reside, to allow them to manifest themselves in our midst, to give them body, we rely on the dance." S mon initially views this as "harmless nonsense," an attitude that widens the gulf between him and his inquisitive charge. He responds to Dav d's ceaseless questions with "dry little homilies" that seldom satisfy the otherworldly child. These Socratic sallies can grate rather than illuminate, and the novel's Biblical allusions can seem more coy than revelatory. In The Childhood of Jesus, Don Quixote's visionary gusto inspired young Dav d; here, there are darker, Dostoyevskian drives at play. Dav d is attracted to exuberant characters who, unlike his guardians, flout conventional morality. Enter Dmitri, a museum attendant infatuated with Dav d's ethereally beautiful dance instructor, to provide a welcome, and violent, jolt of immeasurable passion to the novel's measured world.