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The Childhood of Jesus Hardcover – September 3, 2013
Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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Top Customer Reviews
If I recall correctly, in Arthur C. Clarke's novel "2001: A Space Odyssey" the astronaut Dave Bowman, having been catapulted through a wormhole in space into the confines of the replica French provincial apartment where he will rapidly age and die, leafs through a phone directory and sees that its text is fuzzy, as if copied imperfectly from afar.
The same seems to be true of Novilla, the mysterious city, a Spanish-speaking urban no-man's-land, that seems to have no original residents but only transferees via first a boat trip and then passage through the Belstar relocation camp. The main characters, the adult guardian Simón and the five-year-old David, are among them.
Novilla seems to embody an imperfect copy of a city made by a creator whose grasp of human institutions is imperfect. This creator has taken a stab at realizing an ideal version of human existence, possibly in an effort to realize Karl Marx's classless society. But the results don't quite work. In Novilla, there is no want and no economic conflict. But life is bland and largely scripted, as exemplified by the boarding-school-cafeteria food and the uncontroversial classes offered at the adult-education institute. The creator, like the mysterious civilization in "2001," could not plan for nuance, but only brush with broad strokes based on an ideal form absorbed from a distance.
The playful and brilliant J.M. Coetzee provides clues to this. I found two mistakes that Coetzee wouldn't make. I say this confidently because his English is impeccable, his Spanish is impeccable, and his novels are, as far as I've read them, flawless in the execution. Not so here, so any errors must be deliberate.Read more ›
For this country is not like any other. The people are unfailingly helpful, but what they provide are the minima: a slice of bread, a roof over one's head. Transportation and many services are free, and work is easy to find; Simón takes a job as a stevedore, and his foreman and colleagues are kind and patient as he finds his feet. People seem mostly to live in simple rooms in small apartment blocks; whatever their work, they all seem to have adequate funds to buy the limited range of food and merchandise sold in the few stores. Conversation (the book is almost entirely in dialogue) is relatively open and easy, but also passionless. When Simón shows an attraction to one woman, she points out the logical absurdity of wishing "to push part of your body inside me"; when he is attracted to another, she permits sex, but only as an irrelevant adjunct to their comradely friendship.
What is this place? A socialist-inflected heaven?Read more ›
Though this novel is allegorical, it is impossible to give an unambiguous rendering of what the narrative represents.
I found it completely absorbing, even though its anchoring in 'realism' is only partial; Coetzee is able to construct an entirely viable story from a restricted repertoire of characters and contexts.
There is an excellent review of The Childhood of Jesus in the London Review of Books.
Coetzee is a literary great who surpasses the conventionally acknowledged masters of the twentieth century.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a strange little book that has left me a bit baffled. In an unknown time, and an unknown place, a man and a child arrive with new names and erased memories with the most... Read morePublished 2 days ago by Nicole Del Sesto
Ever finish a novel and ask yourself: What the heck was that about?
Well, that was my experience when I finished THE CHILDHOOD OF JESUS, which is the ninth novel by the... Read more
The premise of people entering a New life without a past is unusual. The title suggests that the boy is far from normal. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads contest. I really didn't know what to think when I first opened this book. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Nancy A
Simon takes on the care of a little boy, David, who is separated from his parents as they cross the sea to a new land. Read morePublished 4 months ago by R. Z. Halleson
Coetzee manages to describe the characters and their experiences in such a way that, although they are vividly depicted, they are mysterious and always doing unexpected things. .Published 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
Coetze has written some brilliant and harrowing novels, "Disgrace," for one. This is not one of his best, but it is an unusual departure for him. Read morePublished 6 months ago by PassionateReader
Loved it although I'm not yet sure exactly what to make of it. Coetzee style I always love and themes were piercing as usual, even though sometimes unrealistically stilted in tone.Published 10 months ago by Mark Trevor Smith
Peculiar imagination, concise narrative, no words unnecessary. Great bookPublished 11 months ago by Margaret Zheng