The Childhood of Jesus
From the Nobel Prize–winning author of Waiting for the Barbarians, The Life & Times of Michael K and Disgrace.
Nobel laureate and two-time Booker Prize winner J. M. Coetzee returns with a haunting and surprising novel about childhood and destiny that is sure to rank with his classic novels.
Separated from his mother as a passenger on a boat bound for a new land, David is a boy who is quite literally adrift. The piece of paper explaining his situation is lost, but a fellow passenger, Simón, vows to look after the boy. When the boat docks, David and Simón are issued new names, new birthdays, and virtually a whole new life.
Strangers in a strange land, 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?”
An eerie allegorical tale told largely through dialogue, The Childhood of Jesus is a literary feat—a novel of ideas that is also a tender, compelling narrative. Coetzee’s many fans will celebrate his return while new readers will find The Childhood of Jesus an intriguing introduction to the work of a true master.
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.
A Beautiful Read
An amazing book. Every chapter presented profound ideas in the form of a very simple story. The plot is simple in the way a dream or a parable, with layers of meaning. This is a book best read in bursts, with time between each chapter to savor and digest. Highly recommended.
I read a lot. Several novels a month. This is my 1st review. I don't review books I read them. This is the first novel that I just couldn't get thru. I stopped after chapter five. Reread the reviews, confirmed my suspicious, and found something else to read.
the childhood of jesus
do not waste a nanno second on this. I kept reading hoping that something would make sense and it never does. Beyond a doubt the worst book I ever read and would venture to say ever written