An astonishing new masterpiece from the Nobel and twice Booker Prize-winning author of Disgrace and Summertime
After crossing oceans, a man and a boy – both strangers to each other – arrive in a new land. David, the boy, has lost his mother and Simón vows to look after him. In this strange new country they are assigned a new name, a new birthday, a new life.
Knowing nothing of their surroundings, nor the language or customs, they are determined to find David’s mother. Though the boy has no memory of her, Simón is certain he will recognize her at first sight. “But after we find her,” David asks, “what are we here for?”
The Childhood of Jesus is a profound, beautiful and continually surprising novel from a very great writer.
In this captivating and provocative new novel, a small boy who has been renamed David, and Sim n, the man who has become David's caretaker since David was separated from his mother, have immigrated to a nameless country. Sim n soon finds work on the docks, is given an apartment for new arrivals, and sets about the impossible task of finding David's mother, whose name they do not know and whose face the boy does not remember. One day, Sim n glimpses a woman inside a wealthy household a woman who very likely isn't David's mother and becomes instantly, illogically convinced that she should raise the child. He approaches her intent on convincing her to be "a mother" to David; what unfolds is their story: mistakes made in the name of love and choices no one would wish to encounter. Most fascinating is the timeless, almost placeless country itself, which provides the immigrants with essentials food, shelter, education, and modest employment but denies them what Sim n discovers matters most: irony, sensuality, intensity, and opinion. At times, the questions driving the allegory become almost too explicit, as when Sim n asks a woman with whom he has just done the disappointing "business of sex" if "the price we pay for this new life, the price of forgetting, may be too high?" As in the past, Coetzee's (Disgrace) precise prose is at once rich and austere, lean and textured, deceptively straightforward and yet expansive, as he considers what is required, not just of the body, but by the heart.