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The Schooldays of Jesus

The Schooldays of Jesus

J. M. Coetzee

  • awardLonglisted, Man Booker Prize, United Kingdom, 2016
  • 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.


    Weekend Australian ($)

    J. M. Coetzee
    About the Author

    J. M. Coetzee was 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 & Times of Michael K, The Master of Petersburg, Disgrace and Diary of a Bad Year. His most recent writing is a trilogy of novels: The Childhood of Jesus, The Schooldays of...

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    18 August 2016
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    Praise for J. M. Coetzee
    andThe Schooldays of Jesus

    ‘An intimacy born from urgency crackles through each of [Coetzee’s] books, as if one is not reading a text but being plugged into a brand new form of current—reinvented each time to carry a new and urgent form of narrative information…Coetzee is the most radical shapeshifter alive.’

    ‘A theological and philosophical fable of considerable brilliance, power and wit. Coetzee hasn’t done anything as fine and beautifully executed as this since Disgrace.’

    ‘Beautiful but enigmatic fable, written in clean, fierce, present tense prose, seems set in some sort of afterlife…insistently memorable in its spare evocations, it leaves the reader charmed, intrigued, impressed and curious, with much compulsively to ponder.’

    ‘[A] quiet, haunting novel…Coetzee’s calm, emblematic prose lifts the plot into something redolent with metaphor and mystery…Any statement can become a symbol; every event is suffused with potential revelation; something magical is always present and just out of reach…It’s a memorable accomplishment, turning the everyday into the almost everlasting.’

    ‘Double Booker Prize-winner Coetzee’s fable has a dream-like, Kafkaesque quality. Are we in some kind of heaven, purgatory or simply another staging post of existence? Clear answers are elusive, but this is a riveting, thought-provoking read and surely Coetzee’s best novel since Disgrace more than a decade ago.’

    The Childhood of Jesus represents a return to the allegorical mode that made him famous…a Kafkaesque version of the nativity story…The Childhood of Jesus does ample justice to his giant reputation: it’s richly enigmatic, with regular flashes of Coetzee’s piercing intelligence.’

    The Schooldays of Jesus by JM Coetzee is maddening, obscure — and brilliant.’

    ‘Obscurely compelling, often very funny, full of sudden depths…The Schooldays of Jesus is a work of many small but significant truths, rather than one central message; a novel stubbornly committed to its own way of doing things.‘

    ‘Yet although it is written with the coolness and limpidity that make Coetzee such a master, the story remains almost uninterpretable, certainly no simple allegory, quite an achievement in itself. Frustrating, yes, but not just that. There were moments when I found it almost too affecting to read without pausing to recover myself.’

    ‘The way [Coetzee] mixes the enigmatic and almost otherworldly elements of this child with his youthful and innocent questions makes David the perfect mix of endearing, enraging, and enlightening. He’s as believable as characters come.’

    ‘Freed from literary convention, Mr Coetzee writes not to provide answers, but to ask great questions.’

    ‘Coetzee’s depiction is unlike any other you’ve read. Rather, it’s decidedly ‘Coetzeean’…Eloquent and provocative.’

    ‘The indeterminacy…gives the two Jesus novels their air of unreality and their vaguely allegorical sheen, but it also provides a conveniently stripped-back setting in which to stage philosophical arguments.’

    ‘At sentence level, he [Coetzee] is, of course, a model of clarity – think of the dry and unornamented perspicuity Coetzee brings to bear in his fiction, the fastidiousness of thought that emits from his creations the way a dot matrix printer unspools. Yet the cumulative effect of this approach is not arid intellection but organic feeling: full-fleshed, mysterious and often extreme.’

    ‘These are novels for our time…They will puzzle you and frustrate you but at the end of Schooldays you will catch a glimpse of the things unseen.’

    ‘The continuation of a masterpiece that is breathtaking and enthralling in its strangeness.’

    ‘The continuation of a masterpiece that is breathtaking and enthralling in its strangeness.’

    ‘Kafka-esque, full of strange bureaucracy and even stranger mysticism….It’s odd to say The Schooldays of Jesus argues that parenthood is much like a Kafka story. But, like Kafka’s work, the novel illustrates the struggle of logic against the ineffable. In this case, what cannot be described is the internal life of the little creatures raised into adults.’

    Other editions ofThe Schooldays of Jesus
    • The Schooldays of Jesus
      ISBN: 9781925410204
      18 August 2016
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