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As he gets older he finds himself growing more and more crabby about language, about slack usage, falling standards. Falling in love, for instance. ‘We fell in love with the house’, friends of his say. How can you fall in love with a house when the house cannot love you back, he wants to reply? Once you start falling in love with objects, what will be left of real love, love as it used to be? But no one seems to care. People fall in love with tapestries, with old cars.
A man contemplates his deep connection to a house.
The unfathomable idea of threshing wheat points to a life lost.
And a writer ponders the creation of his narrator.
Three Stories—'His Man and He’, written as Coetzee’s acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize for Literature, ‘A House in Spain’ and ‘Nietverloren’—is the work of a master at his peak. These are stories that embody the essence of our existence.
‘Coetzee is a master we scarcely deserve.’
‘All [the stories are] impeccably crafted and a joy to read, with the book itself beautifully presented in duck egg blue and inlaid gold too.’
‘For all the sharpness and sorrow of Coetzee’s writing, there is something grandly calming about his style: his sentences seem to give off light, and not in a hard dazzle, but in the glow of a child’s night-light.’
‘From the opening chapter I had that hard-to-pin-down sense that I was in the presence of a masterpiece.’
‘A Kafka-inspired parable of the quest for meaning itself.’
‘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.’
‘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.’
‘A breathtaking performance, full of the tears in things and the wonders of which we cannot speak.’
‘Coetzee’s beautiful prose is always a model of sensitivity and cohesion and is a window into the oddities of human behaviour. He has the gift of drawing the reader right, setting the atmosphere and depicting believable characters. Coetzee’s stories flow seamlessly and gracefully.’
‘Coetzee’s strength as a writer is such that each of the stories is engaging, thought-provoking and highly readable.’