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Dwight Garner Reviews The Childhood of Jesus by JM Coetzee

The Childhood of JesusVerdict: a subtle stick

Plenty has been written about the essential qualities of J. M. Coetzee’s novels, their severity, restraint and erudition. Martin Amis put it most memorably, if not most accurately, when he remarked a few years ago that Mr. Coetzee’s “whole style is predicated on transmitting absolutely no pleasure.”

That’s a perverse thing to say. There are many varieties of literary pleasure. Not all of them involve wit or nimble similes or the contemplation of actuality’s more antic aspects.

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