277 pages ; 22 cm ISBN/ISSN:
9780670014651 (hardback), 9780670014651, 0670014656 :, Language:
"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, 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"--
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In this allegorical novel by Nobel Prize Winner, J.M. Coetzee, a six-year-old boy called, David, and a man of nondescript age called, Simon, are brought together as refugees on a ship sailing to a new life. They are greeted with bland "goodwill" from just about everyone they meet. They are assigned their new names and given an allowance and an apartment. Simon finds work as a stevedore even though he is much older than the other workers. He feels inadequate to the task, at first, but the others accept him and his slowness and frailty with "goodwill". Simon is frequently frustrated with the lack of passion in everyone around him.
Simon feels compelled to find David's "real mother" by which he means, not the woman who gave birth to him, but the woman who is destined to nurture him. He picks Ines, a thirtyish, spoiled woman who spends her days playing tennis and lounging. Surprisingly, Ines accepts David as her son. She and Simon go through many difficult times trying to deal with each other but they both always put David above all else.
The childhood of Jesus is a complex examination of such a wide varieties of issues we all face, but it never seems ponderous or plodding. The story of the man and child is enough to keep the interest while the deeper topics are slipped in the narrative as discussions between the characters. It is a thoughtful book for a time of uncertainty.
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