- 27 Sep 16
By JM Coetzee (Harvill Secker)
One of the most acclaimed novelists in contemporary literature, South African author JM Coetzee seems to have increasingly lost interest in conventional storytelling. So much so that one review of his latest book, The Schooldays Of Jesus, stated that “he does not actually write fiction any more” – which is a bit of a bummer for those of us who read novels for precisely that reason.
Pregnant with a meaning that never arrives, The Schooldays Of Jesus tells the story (in so much as there is one) of David, a motherless refugee child who lives in a nameless country where everyone speaks Spanish. His parents eventually enrol him in a dance academy overseen by an austere teacher, which is the cue for a series of intense debates on the nature of being. A rigorous novel of philosophical ideas (or a load of pretentious waffle, to taste), the book is full of enigmatic allusions, including a reference to “a higher place where the numbers dwell”.
To put it mildly, an acquired taste.