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The Childhood of Jesus

The Childhood of Jesus by J. M. Coetzee
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This is an extraordinary new fable from one of the world's greatest living novelists, two-time Booker Prize winner and Nobel Laureate.

David is a small boy who comes by boat across the ocean to a new country. He has been separated from his parents, and has lost the piece of paper that would have explained everything.

On the boat a stranger named Simon takes it upon himself to look after the boy. On arrival they are assigned new names, new birthdates. They know little Spanish, the language of their new country, and nothing about its customs. They have also suffered a kind of forgetting of old attachments and feelings. They are people without a past.

Simon's goal is to find the boy's mother. He feels sure he will know her when he sees her. And David? He wants to find his mother too but he also wants to understand where he is and how he fits in. He is a boy who is always asking questions.

The Childhood of Jesus is not like any other novel you have read. This beautiful and surprising fable is about childhood, about destiny, about being an outsider. It is a novel about the riddle of experience itself.

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 and Times of Michael K, The Master of Petersburg, Disgrace and Diary of a Bad Year. He lives in Adelaide.

'Coetzee is a master we scarcely deserve.' Age

'Coetzee gradually, with great intelligence and skill, brings to extraordinary - possibly divine - life an ostensibly simple story.' Weekend Australian

'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.' Canberra Times and Age

'[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.' Weekend Herald (NZ)

'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.' Daily Mail

'Written with all of Coetzee's penetrating rigour, it will be an early contender for an unprecedented third Booker prize.' Observer

'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.' Guardian

'The sense of calm, furthered by Coetzee's spare prose, is very unsettling...These are not the horrors of Waiting for the Barbarians, this is the horror of banality.' Independent on Sunday

The Text Publishing Company; March 2013
288 pages; ISBN 9781922148070
Read online, or download in secure EPUB
Title: The Childhood of Jesus
Author: J. M. Coetzee
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