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JM Coetzee’s The Childhood of Jesus Picked as a Favourite Book of 2013 by The Atlantic and Mother Jones

The Childhood of JesusAlthough it had a somewhat mixed reception, JM Coetzee’s novel The Childhood of Jesus has been included on both The Atlantic and Mother Jones’ lists of best books of the past year.

These publications asked their editors and writers to chose their favourite books from 2013. Clare Sestanovich of The Atlantic selected The Childhood of Jesus, saying that it is a story that “will confuse you constantly, even as it resonates deeply”. She highly recommends this combination.

Coetzee’s latest was also picked by Tom Philpott of Mother Jones, who commented that “the plot is oddly engrossing”. He cautions, however: “If you don’t go in a fan, you may hate it. Coetzee-heads like me will find it haunting.”

The Childhood of Jesus by J.M. Coetzee

Most books are “not for everyone.” You know: “This one” won’t do if you love dense plots and lavish sentences, and “that one” must be skipped if you aren’t in the Jane Austen Book Club. But an allegory is an exceptionally unfriendly kind of story. It says, I am only for a very few people. The people who can understand why so-and-so is called what’s-his-name, who can decipher what the pregnant dialogue in Chapter One is really talking about.

The Childhood of Jesus, by J.M. Coetzee.

In his latest, the South African Nobel laureate uses his icy, pitch-perfect prose to create a mysterious, Kafkaesque world inhabited by exiles living materially stripped-down lives administered by friendly but implacable clerks. The plot is oddly engrossing—and utterly enigmatic. If you don’t go in a fan, you may hate it. Coetzee-heads like me will find it haunting.

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