Long Listed for the 2016 Booker Prize
The Schooldays of Jesus by J. M. Coetzee is a sequel to The Childhood of Jesus, which I have not yet read. The Schooldays of Jesus is set in a Spanish speaking country, probably in the 1930s. The only book mentioned is Don Quixote and there is political unrest similar to that of the period of the Spanish Civil War. My reading of the book was very much influenced by the title, I wondered if we were seeing in the life of the young man David an allegory of the missing years of the historical Jesus.
David is maybe seven when the story begins, he is being taken care of by a couple, not his bilogical parents who are on the reasons we never quite understand running from the authorities. The couple ends up working as farm laborers on an establishment owned by three sisters. David enjoys the freedom of the field, often in the company of his dog Bolivar. (I just now wondered if this could be an allusion to the great liberator, putting another twist on the allegory.). The three sisters agree to sponser the schooling of David at an academy that primarily teaches dance but also deals in numerological matters.
The boy gradually learns things about life, the adult world. The couple, whose bond never seemed strong, drift apart. The woman starts working at a shop, the man begins to deliver advertising leaflets.
There are several interesting plot developments. There is much to think about.
I was kindly given a review copy of this book. I found it fascinating and am very glad I had the opportunity to read The School Days of Jesus.
J.M. Coetzee's work includes Waiting for the Barbarians, Life & Times of Michael K, Foe, and Slow Man, among others. He has been awarded many prizes, including the Booker Prize (twice). In 2003, he received the Nobel Prize for Literature.