A major new novel 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, Simon, vows to look after the boy. When the boat docks, David and Simon 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, Simon 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.
Praise for The Childhood of Jesus
"[ The Childhood of Jesus ] plunges us at once into a mysterious and dreamlike terrain....A Kafka-inspired parable of the quest for meaning itself." - Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Times Book Review (front page)
"[A book] of profound and painful humanity, preoccupied with some of the most essential questions about what it means to be a parent and what happens when noble principles are confronted with the grubby details of everyday life." - Patrick Flanery, The Washington Post
"Gripping from the very first page." - Bookforum
"A return to form....[Coetzee's] most brisk and dazzling book." - Benjamin Lytal, The Daily Beast
"Compelling - eerie, tautly written." - Los Angeles Times
"[Coetzee] is a consummate withholder, one of the great masters of the unsaid and the inexplicit." - The New York Review of Books
" The Childhood of Jesus - this cryptic, mythic, haunting fable - ranks among J. M. Coetzee's best." - The Chicago Tribune
"With this powerful and puzzling novel, Nobel laureate Coetzee...returns to the allegorical focus that defined Waiting for the Barbarians ." - Booklist (starred)
"Captivating and provocative....Coetzee's 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." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A fictional form that is as provocative as it is readable." - Star Tribune
Auszüge aus dem Buch
The man at the gate points them towards a low, sprawling building in the middle distance. 'If you hurry,' he says, 'you can check in before they close their doors for the day.'
They hurry. Centro de Reubicació;n Novilla , says the sign. Reubicació;n : what does that mean? Not a word he has learned.
The office is large and empty. Hot too – even hotter than outside. ?tioned by panes of frosted glass. Against the wall is an array of filing drawers in varnished wood.
Suspended over one of the partitions is a sign: Recién Llegados , the words stencilled in black on a rectangle of cardboard. The clerk behind the counter, a young woman, greets him with a smile.
'Good day,' he says. 'We are new arrivals.' He articulates the words slowly, in the Spanish he has worked hard to master.'I am looking for employment, also for a place to live.' He grips the boy under the armpits and lifts him so that she can see him properly. 'I have a child with me.'
The girl reaches out to take the boy's hand. 'Hello, young man!' she says. 'He is your grandson?'
'Not my grandson, not my son, but I am responsible for him.'
'A place to live.' She glances at her papers. 'We have a room free here at the Centre that you can use while you look for something better. It won't be luxurious, but perhaps you won't mind that. As for employment, let us explore that in the morning – you look tired, I am sure you want to rest. Have you travelled far?'
'We have been on the road all week. We have come from Belstar, from the camp. Are you familiar with Belstar?'
'Yes, I know Belstar well. I came through Belstar myself. Is that where you learned your Spanish?'
'We had lessons every day for six weeks.'
'Six weeks? You are lucky. I was in Belstar for three months. I almost perished of boredom. The only thing that kept me going was the Spanish lessons. Did you by any chance have señ;ora Piñ;era as a teacher?'
'No, our teacher was a man.' He hesitates. 'May I raise a different matter? My boy' – he glances at the child – 'is not well. Partly it is because he is upset, confused and upset, and hasn't been eating prop?erly. He found the food in the camp strange, didn't like it. Is there anywhere we can get a proper meal?'
'How old is he?'
'Five. That is the age he was given.'
'And you say he is not your grandson.'
'Not my grandson, not my son. We are not related. Here' – he takes the two passbooks from his pocket and proffers them.
She inspects the passbooks. 'These were issued in Belstar?'
'Yes. That is where they gave us our names, our Spanish names.'
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J.M. Coetzee, geboren 1940 in Kapstadt, stammt aus einer Afrikaaner-Familie, wurde jedoch englischsprachig erzogen. 1962 verließ er erstmals Südafrika, um bei IBM in Großbritannien als Programmierer zu arbeiten. 1965 zog er in die USA, wo er 1969 über Beckett promovierte. Er kehrte 1972 als Literaturprofessor nach Südafrika zurück. Der internationale Durchbruch gelang ihm 1980 mit "Waiting for the Barbarians". Er wurde für seine Romane mit zahlreichen Preisen ausgezeichnet, u.a. zweimal mit dem Booker Prize. 2003 erhielt Coetzee den Nobelpreis für Literatur.